Over 150 volunteers from Landscape Ontario descended on St. James Park in downtown Toronto to re-sod the park occupied by protesters and turn it back into a city park with over 1800 rolls of new sod.
The City of Toronto had expected the repair of the St. James Park would cost $60,000 to $100,000 to repair after protesters from Occupy Toronto camped out for over a month and made the site their home. Landscape Ontario members from all over Toronto came forward and offered to complete the lawn work and tree services for free, with the help of a small army of volunteers and put the park back to its previous state, prior to the protests.
Joseph Salemi from the Landscape Ontario said, "It all started out on a plea on the John Tory show on CFRB on Friday and one of our members heard the plea and approached us to get involved. We answered that call and we contacted the Mayors office and we got the ball rolling."
The sod for the project was donated by the Nursery Sod Growers Association of Ontario which was put together within a few days.
Joseph Salemi added, "This was a large scale philanthropic event by our over 2000 members who volunteered their time and efforts.
Landscape Ontario - Robert Ellidge
Used with permission, Landscape Ontario with over 2000 members. Robert Ellidge, Landscape Ontario. The man (in yellow), laying the sod is Alan White, Owner of Turf Systems Inc.
For us it wasn't necessarily about the credit, it was taking the opportunity to tell people that grass is just as important as trees with the environmental benefit, if you can imagine that size of park which is 118,000 square feet will provide enough oxygen for about 550 families."
Most of the trees in St. James Park are in the neighborhood of 20 years plus and they are important for shade and to oxygenate the city. Many of the root systems from the trees were damaged during the protest and many had to be trimmed to allow sunlight to get to the new grass. The sprinkler system was running today, so the new grass could get a good soaking to prepare for the long winter.
Joe commented on how proud he is of his membership, "I would like to say to the membership, is a very sincere thank you for going above and beyond the call, it's truly the definition of association is the community within industry to giving back to the City of Toronto.
One other big donation was from Scotts Canada they provided all the mulch, which was a full tractor trailer load of over 26 pallets."
The mulch assists around the tree beds to help save the trees which had been damaged during the protests at the park and the root systems were coming above ground. Because of this, you will notice most of the trees in the park have larger beds around them.
Stephany was walking her dog near the church and said, "It's great to have our park back even if we have to stay off the grass for a while."
Hats off to all those who participated, and it proves that Toronto is one of the greatest places to live.