This post is sponsored by TD and the TD Common Ground Project.  All opinions are my own or that of my family.

“The more we get together, the happier we’ll be” – we’ve heard it before, we’ll hear it again, and it rings true every time.

“The more we get together” is the theme  for the TD Common Ground Project, an initiative that has created a legacy supporting the revitalization of green spaces across the country, green spaces where people gather on common ground to celebrate, to play, and to be. And in the days and weeks since the kickoff of the Kingston TD Common Ground Project at Victoria Park, I have come to realize just how true that little song is. Each time that we head out into our community, and especially when we make our way to Victoria Park, we run into friends and colleagues galore, and we often make new friends, too. And these encounters bring such joy to us, such a sense of community, and that sense of community is what I want to address today.

 

 

Back in May, I wrote about how through the TD Common Ground Project, the City of Kingston received a $500,000 donation to put towards the revitalization of Victoria Park. I also discussed our newfound need for a park, what with Huckleberry reaching an age and stage when parks become a big part of our life. I was naïve when I wrote that post though, I didn’t realize just how deep that need was, just how much we, as the parents, also needed a park. I thought we were going to the park just for Huckleberry, just so our toddler could blow off some steam and work on his gross motor skills, maybe make a friend or two. I was so (delightfully) wrong.

In the four years that we’ve lived in Kingston, we’ve bumped into friends and colleagues the odd time at the grocery store, or maybe a restaurant. We’ve said “Hi” in passing and carried on with whatever it was that we were doing. Through these encounters, and their rarity, we never quite felt like we belonged in Kingston, we never felt that same sense of community that we felt in our hometowns, where you couldn’t step out the door without seeing someone you knew. But that is slowly changing, and we’re grateful to the TD Common Ground Project for that. Throughout the revitalization process at Victoria Park, we’ve checked in many a time and run into many a friend while there. And the ribbon-cutting celebration back on July 30th was such a heart-warming and incredibly uplifting experience! I lost track of how many people I stopped and chatted with in the hour that I was at the park. I had people reaching out to grab my arm so that I didn’t just walk by them. I could hear my name being called over a crowd of people. I was recognized, I was celebrated, I was part of something bigger. “This is community,” I thought, “This is what we’ve been looking for!”

How silly of me to think that we needed a favourite park so that Huckleberry could enjoy himself. We needed a park so that we could belong so that we could feel the sense of community that had been lacking. The TD Common Ground Project has brought new life to a well-loved but somewhat neglected park, and with that new life a new sense of community to us and to others I am certain. In fact, while at the ribbon-cutting event, I overheard someone say, “This park is going to be so well-loved!” And the more well-loved a place is, the more people will gather together there. And we all know that the more we get together, the happier we’ll be.

I am so happy, so excited, and so proud to have been part of this project. I hope that so many other new residents and new families find the same encouraging sense of community when they visit Victoria Park, when they gather with new friends, when they make new memories. Thank you, TD, for helping to create a common ground in Kingston!

If you’re wondering what we think of the park upgrades beyond the feel-good sense of community it brings us, well here’s a quick rundown of our first impressions:

  • The splash pad is shaded! How many parks can boast of a shaded splash pad? The new one at  Victoria Park is in the shade most of the day, and that is pretty amazing! So no need to stress about how waterproof that waterproof sunscreen really is…those big mature trees have you covered, literally.
  • The splash pad is great for little kids and big kids alike! Huckleberry does not enjoy being sprayed with water but LOVES to splash in it. This new splash pad can do both! There are geysers and jets that you can run through and get soaked by, but there is also the runoff river that is perfect for little or apprehensive splash pad goers and that’s where Huckleberry and smaller tots (and some hot pups) spend all of their time.
  • The splash pad is eco-friendly! Yes! That runoff river that our guy loves splashing in feeds a garden! There’s a whole lot less guilt for waste- and water-conscious parents when their children want to spend hours running through this splash pad over and over again.
  • The splash pad is minimalistic! There are no huge water guns or buckets that spill on your head, there are no posts to run into or spheres to trip over. The new splash pad at  Victoria Park is simple in design – it is a flat space with a half-wall running down one side. That’s it. That’s all.
  • We love the splash pad! If you haven’t already guessed it, the upgrade we are most excited about is the splash pad. But, I suppose I should probably discuss the other features in case those excite you more.
  • There’s an educational water conservation garden! So that garden that is fed by the splash pad runoff? It is a beautiful water conservation garden full of native species that are all well-marked and described on a beautiful nearby sign, making it quite educational! Any excess water that the garden does not need is slowly released into a storm drain, thus not overtaxing the city’s water system or causing any flooding.
  • The bridge is also educational! The bridge going over the rivulet and garden is decorated with the names of all of the plant species for in the park, for some nature-based learning. Go find them all!
  • There are so many more trees! Victoria Park was already a very well-treed park, with a full shade-providing mature canopy. But that canopy has since been diversified. Many newer saplings were added, as well as some flowering bushes. I can’t wait to watch them grow and change the look of the park!
  • There are fancy charcoal BBQs! Trail Dad does not spend much time BBQing but he wouldn’t stop gushing about how cool the new BBQs were. And there’s one at just about every picnic table! Maybe he needs to get into grilling…
  • There are so many places to sit! Beyond all of the picnic tables, there are really neat shaped half-wall benches all over the park. It makes you want to grab a coffee and a friend and sit for a spell.
  • There are sporty things for sporty people! We don’t really play basketball or tennis, but folks that do are very excited about the new courts! So if that’s your thing, go check them out!

To learn more about the Victoria Park project, please check out my previous blog post on the topic or visit: