Budapest Park – a pride of Toronto city!
This is one of the favourite places, and a source of pride for Toronto city dwellers. As it combines history and nature together, the Budapest Park is termed as a 'city within a park.' Situated on the wide shore of Lake Ontario at the east of Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool, this is one place anyone can spend for an entire day, enjoy a picnic with friends, or even to spend some quality time in solitude.
The Sunnyside Beach gives special attention to the swimmers or those who love to walk over the sands. The park offers numerous options for entertainment like rowing clubs, sports clubs, picnic areas, play grounds to run or play with your pet, an ornamental fountain, a wading pool, a night club, bathing pavilion and a public pool. The Park is also popular for boating and swimming (within protection barrier).
The trees of this park make it extra special. The joggers trekking alongside the shore area is something special to mention. While writing this, the scene of our Cox's Bazaar sea beach came into my mind. We never thought of a beach equipped for joggers or walking tracks!
The park area is a single, long strip of 3 kilometres encircled by the Gardiner Expressway and rail lines and a hydro-electric line serving the Toronto city and also to separate it from Parkdale and other neighbourhoods of the north. While visiting Budapest Park I felt - nature comes first here.
Now, for a list of history -
The park is located in one of the landing areas of an attack of 1813 in the War of 1812 (when the American troops attacked the then-town of York - arriving by the water way); and also in remembrance of the fallen freedom fighters of Hungary who fought against the rule of the then Soviet Union.
History is marked on the stone installations in a very simple but befitting manner. Once again, I remembered our Suhrawardy Udyan. Over 1900 – 1910, Toronto preserved the open space and cleaned up the war marks. The massive waterfront was created through reclamation that helped expand the land area by 38 hectares i.e. 94 acres for creating several beaches and break water for boating.
Although the summer time is the most visited period of the year, but on one late October afternoon, I found it full of life – even after the sun had set, joggers and walkers were going strong with their passion for exercise.
In that late October, the trees were seen changing their colours, the fallen leaves creating an image of an oil painting, and the roaming clouds reminding us how the weather had changed. The newly introduced maple leaf wooden tunnel turned out to be a new spot for fun lovers.
Back to the present, among the beaches along the waterfront, a small beach rests to the east of the Boulevard Club and at its eastern most point - a small area of the original bluff still exists as a reminder of the original shoreline. The main beach is located to the south of the Bathing Pavilion. Though in our eyes, the water is clear enough to soothe our mind and bodies, but the city/park authority consider it too polluted and efforts are being made to reduce the pollution further through a major tunnel built to divert the storm water that was polluting the river but also for wastewater treatment.
Two storm water management ponds were also built at the north of Lake Shore Boulevard West in 2007. Water conditions are indicated by flags posted along the beach. Now the swimming area is open for most of summer.
Water quality is improving. The Toronto City water department proposed landfill –excavation to construct a chain of artificial islands near the mouth of the river that would extend approximately one kilometre off shore, and would be connected by an underwater system to direct the river's flow into deep water – following a commissioned study titled 'Western Waterfront Public Consultation.'
The future plan includes realignment of the lake's shore to free up more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and also to create some more recreational facilities. The long south side lakeshore is for commercial uses such as Deans Boat House and Meyer's Hotel. With time, facilities of the park are added such as free street car services to take children to bathe at Sunnyside. The full fledged park was opened back in July 2014!
Park facilities include – beach, bike trail, drinking fountain, field house, outdoor fitness equipment, playground, splash pad, parking lot and washroom facilities. Some facilities are available with prior communication and permission. Permit rates are dependent on rating - premium, A, B or C and under group category. Do not forget to visit this park on your next trip to Toronto City!
Photo courtesy: Laila Karim