Your comments on the St. James Park restoration project

Email your comments to Denis Flanagan or Tony DiGiovanni

December 19, 2011

On behalf of every business and commercial property owner in the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood, we would like to thank you for your generous donation of time, resources and materials that contributed to rejuvenating our beloved St. James Park. St. James Park plays a very important role for our business and residential community. Whether relaxing and enjoying the green space or walking a dog; having a quick lunch al fresco or discovering the Victorian Gardens, there's something for everyone to enjoy. It is clear that a great many people love this park and recognize the important historical and environmental role that it plays in our day-to-day lives.

A few of the businesses in the neighbourhood have expressed an interest in extending some special offers as tokens of appreciation to the staff and volunteers who participated in the restoration of St. James Park. Please let me know how many volunteers and staff you had on this project.

Kind Regards,
George Milbrandt, President
Al Smith, Executive Director
St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA

Date: Fri, Dec. 16, 2011 11:38:29 AM EST

I was on an email trail this morning praising the efforts of Landscape Ontario and the volunteers for the St. James Park in Toronto – I looked at the slide show and thank you notes which were included through web links. What an impressive gathering of volunteers – and for such a great cause! To watch the grounds transform from dirt to the end result, in just two days time, was amazing! The thank you notes clearly show how much the contribution was appreciated by the community.

Prior to coming to PLANET, I worked for a school board association, and then a medical association. The green industry is the most caring group of individuals – always ready to answer the call for help and so willing to give back - their contributions truly make a difference!

I wanted to add my personal congratulations to all of staff on this community event.

Zane P. Castle
Certification Manager
Professional Landcare Network

Posted on YouTube

Thank you Landscape Ontario and all of the contributing businesses and volunteers! Way to Grow!


Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 3:29 PM

On a day that, I'm sure, you must field an avalanche of mail I'd like to add one more that should not be left unsaid. Thank you to you and to all associated with making the restoration happen. It is exactly this type of event that makes me extremely proud to be involved with a group that acknowledges the precious nature of all urban green spaces and is ready to step in with action, while so many others treat it as their political football.

A glorious December sun shines down on the good work. It does us all proud.


Jeff Gregg
A Squirrel's Eye View

Date: Sun, Dec 11, 2011 at 3:30 AM

As a resident in the St. Lawrence Market area and a park user for the last 10 years, I wanted to extend a personal note of thanks for the efforts of Landscape Ontario. We are looking forward to once again being able to enjoy a rejuvenated, green, better-than-ever park.

Please extend my sincere thanks to all of the volunteers and anyone who had a part in the project. Their generosity is truly appreciated.

Yours truly,
Robert Clarke
Toronto, ON

Date: Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 7:21 AM

Hats off to Landscape Ontario members for stepping up to the plate and restoring St James Park to its former beauty after the 'Occupiers' departed! I have known for many, many years that you truly are a very special group! Congratulations!

Helen Craig

Date: Sat, Dec 10, 2011 at 10:52 AM

What a wonderful thing you have done and how wise to document it so well. Now Landscape Ontario is a household word.
Congratulations on a great project.

Carol Dunk

Date: Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 9:55 AM

I understand Landscape Ontario and its members have stepped up to refurbish the St James Park after the departure of the Occupy movement.

One of the Customer Support staff I sit close to and work with heard your interview on the radio and brought it to my attention.

That is a very generous and thoughtful gesture from you and your organization.

If I don't get a chance to speak with you or your staff before the New Year, I just wanted to wish you all the best and say Thank you.

Regards Brian

Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 9:58 AM

So wonderful that your volunteers are working hard in this chilly weather to re-sod St. James Park. Thanks to you all for your generosity. Your example in an inspiration.

Thank you so much,

Liz MacLeod

Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Dear Mr. DiGiovanni:

Please accept our thanks for restoring the sod in St. James Park.

St. James Park is used daily by residents, local business people and their customers, students and visitors from around the country and the world. Our collective, The Friends of St. James Park, is an association of residents and business owners who live and work in the neighbourhood. We joined together earlier this fall, as people who love the Park, so that we can support the maintenance and enjoyment of the park for everyone.

Your donation of material and time and effort is a marvelous gift to St. James Park, and one for which we are very grateful. Your generosity green spaces illustrates how important green living is, and reinforces the true sense of community. And your dedication to a meticulous job shows that you go over and above to have it done right and remain beautiful.

We may have been borne out of adversity, but we have been healed by generosity. We are the stewards of this park, and we will honour that responsibility and take the most care of it.

Please share our thanks with all the members of your association and everyone who contributed to this project.

Yours very truly,

Rachel Young
Friends of St. James Park

Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 7:14 AM

We saw the reports on CP24 this morning and yesterday. Your members are doing a wonderful benefit to the community.
Congratulations on truly having the Christmas spirit and caring about people who appreciate and enjoy the city parks.

Willy and Jake

Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Thank you very much for making the park look so beautiful.

I work right across from the park and am able to watch the volunteers working so hard. I hope they are enjoying themselves.

Your efforts and kindness are greatly appreciated.

Sandy Booth

Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Congratulations to Landscape Ontario Members and their Associate Groups!
I am so happy to see that these organizations and their many volunteers have come to the rescue - although I don't live in Toronto, this story warmed my heart. It will be so gratifying to the residents and visitors of the area to have their park back again, in useable condition. A job well done - many talk about "improving the world", but it is only those who actually roll up their sleeves, and put in the work who will make an difference.

Thank you!
Susan Connolly

Date: Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

I saw on the news yesterday how your members donated their time, products and services to repair St. James Park.

I wanted you to know that my family and I appreciate your group's commitment to the city and its residents and to extend our thanks for your efforts. Please feel free to pass my message along to your members.

Jackie Braden
Senior Manager, Brand Communications

December 9, 2011

Dear Tony:

I could not let this day pass without sending on a note of appreciation to Landscape Ontario. I am not sure I can adequately put into words the extent of appreciation for your members who were responsible for transforming St. James Park from a muddy, trampled mess to a professionally finished, picture-perfect park.

Although Occupy Toronto was in the news for weeks, the nearby residents and businesses were the people who lived it every day for weeks. For our own Parks Staff who maintain this site regularly and with great pride, it was truly disheartening to see it destroyed.

When the call came from you to see if it would be possible for your members to come in and restore St. James Park, I never imagined that such a huge transformation could be undertaken in such a remarkably short time frame.

The professionalism, determination and willingness of the number of companies and their staff that came out to support this initiative was nothing short of awe-inspiring. I truly felt privileged to be a part of this effort as did our entire Staff Team.

The contribution made was not only to physically and aesthetically restoring the Park, but most importantly to helping to turn the entire city's attention to the generosity of giving back. What had been an ugly reminder of the damage done is once again a gem.

I have never seen so many people smiling in downtown Toronto!

Mary Battaglia
A/Parks Manager
Toronto & East York District

Date: Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 4:38 PM

I just read the city's announcement about Landscape Ontario's part in re-sodding St. James Park. I think that is absolutely wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you!
Kyn Barker, Don Mills, ON

Date: Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 6:02 PM

To all the wonderful people at Landscape Ontario,

You have no idea how happy I was to see your people at St. James Park this morning, laying out new sod. I almost cried! I love this park! It's so beautiful in the spring, when the first tulips and spring flowers are blooming and as a neighbourhood resident, I am so glad to see it being restored. Thank you so much and BIG HUG to the volunteers for all their hard work and for making this possible.

Heidi Umstadt

Date: Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 11:00 AM

On behalf of the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association:

Congratulations to Landscape Ontario and the participants at the rejuvenation of the St. James Park after the protesters moved out.

I heard the press and interviews on 680AM at least 6 times during the day.

Well done to all in acting so quickly.

Bill Stensson
Chief Executive Officer
Sheridan Nurseries Ltd.

Date: Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM

I was listening to the news this morning and over heard them say that Landscape Ontario donated over $60,000 worth of material and labour for the repairs of Saint James Park.

That really touch my heart what a wonderful and thoughtful gesture. "Wow."

You guys are so wonderful. Great idea!

Joelle Tardif
Corporate Sales Manager
Radisson Suite Hotel Toronto Airport

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 2:07 PM

We live in the VU condominium overlooking St. James Park and we would like to thank your companies for donating soil, wood chips and sod plus the many many workers for donating their time and effort to restore the park last Wed. and Thurs. You did an amazing job and made the park look better than it has looked for some time. We thank all of you for your generosity and kindness.

After the illegal tenters were gone, as you know, the park was a complete muddy mess and certainly an eye sore. Because of all you, St. James Park is once again a lovely place to look at, walk through and be in.

Many thanks

Dave and Raili Garth

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 3:45 PM

I wanted to personally thank you and your crew for all that you did to restore St. James park . I am a local resident in the area and use the park on a daily basis walking my dog. When the occupiers left the park in shambles my heart and spirit was broken. I could never have asked for anything more. This is the best Christmas present anyone could have ever asked for.

Thank you so very much for your hard work and making this park look so beautiful. We absolutely appreciate it.


Hilda Whincup

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Just wanted to say thanks for all your hard work-fantastic. Just shows what can be done when people get together and have the determination to make things happen.
Best regards to all the volunteers there efforts are much appreciated.

Bob and Gail Alebon

Thu, Dec 8, 2011

To: St. James Park Restorers

As a nearby resident, I want to express my sincere thanks and deep appreciation for your generosity in restoring (and probably improving) St. James Park. Stepping in to repair the recent destruction committed by "Occupation Toronto" confirms my faith that the majority of Toronto's populace takes pride in and respects our environs for the use of all.

Marianne Girling

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 11:02 PM

Hi Tony:

What a coup!
Congratulations on turning out all the troops today. It was impressive!!

Joyce Mckeough, Garden Club of Toronto

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Hello Tony,

My company uses Stems interior Landscaping to provide greenery for our office, and owner Hella Keppo forwarded me your e-mail.

Our office is directly across from the park, and I've formed the Friends of St James Park with the residential and business owners that surround the park to ensure it is returned to its former beauty and help to create a safe and enjoyable park for everyone to use, possible only after the end to the occupation which we always hoped would be peaceful and swift. Your generosity of product and labour is heartwarming, and we thank you so very much for helping to restore our neighbourhood park.

Please let me offer bathroom facilities and coffee/tea to your folks who are here Wed and Thu. Just have them cross Adelaide St (safely please!) to 102 Adelaide St E, same building as Starfish, and buzz the 2nd floor and say they are working on the park. We are open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days.

Thank you for arranging this.

Rachel Young

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Hi Denis,

I just wanted to drop a quick note of thanks to Landscape Ontario. I'm a St. Lawrence Market area resident and a regular user of St. James Park. As an apartment dweller, the park is my 'backyard' and as a dog owner, the park forms an integral part of my daily social routine. Every day dozens of us congregate there to let our dogs mingle while we catch up on neighbourhood chat. I didn't realize how much I relied on those daily interactions until the park was engulfed by tents and yurts and the locals could no longer use (nor feel welcomed in) the public space.

While the neighbourhood was tolerant of the recent occupation, the park sure took a beating. Following the evacuation all that was left behind was a field of mud that none of us could easily traverse. We expected to have to wait until spring while the City debated (dithered?) about using its finite resources to re-sod the area... but thanks to the generosity of your organization (and others) it looks like the park will be reclaimed and beautified just in time for the holiday season.

This is tremendous news for the neighbourhood, area businesses, residents and visitors to our great city (lest we forget that the park sits in an historic location situated across from a busy hotel). I look forward to mingling with my neighbours in the park in short order and admiring your handiwork.

Thank you.

Happy Holidays (indeed),

Patrick Carnegie