Leaside is home to some of the most interesting – and not just green – parks in Toronto. From the well-loved and well-used Trace Manes and the sprawling Sunnybrook Park to the so-called “Batman Park,” Leaside is brimming with green, recreational spaces.
Here’s one that may not be quite as well-known….
Who’s that imposing gentleman one sometimes sees at Leonard Linton Park picking up stray pieces of debris and carefully depositing them in nearby receptacles?
It’s Leonard Linton himself, whose namesake park graces Vanderhoof Ave. across from the Hyde Park townhouses and the new Scenic Towers. This local business leader served as president of the Leaside Business Park Association from 1993 until 2003, and is still a frequent visitor to the area.
What’s the history behind this “business” park in the industrial district?
“In the early days, the Leaside Industrial Park Association was a loose association that only jumped into action when occasion required,” says Linton. “But in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the area increasingly became the target of so-called waste transfer stations and undesirable operations – including an animal sanctuary that housed boa constrictors, leopards and other exotic animals – so I decided to get more involved and do something about it.
“Taking on the task was a full time effort. Fortunately, I had three competent sons to run our business. To be more inclusive we changed our name to the Leaside Business Park Association. Our goal – to preserve the integrity of the business park.”
The park that bears his name was officially opened by Linton and Councillor Jane Pitfield on October 25, 2003 with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and sign unveiling. Vince and Antoinette Benadetto also spoke at the opening ceremonies, representing Kosmor Developments, the company that donated the land for the park, as did Bernard Rasch of the LBPA, who said that, “Even in his ‘retirement’ Leonard Linton continues to be a tireless voice for the area and there is no one more deserving of having their name on the park.”
The park as it was originally designed featured grass, trees and picnic tables surrounding a basketball court and skateboarding facility. A park redevelopment currently underway, featuring a new playground including a splash pad, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2017.
Leonard Linton’s family business, Interior Care Ltd., a specialty carpet and furniture cleaning business for downtown office towers and other commercial properties, is still located in the Leaside industrial area and is operated by his three sons, Graham, Randall and Fraser. Leonard himself is now fully retired from the company and from the LBPA. He and his wife Norma live in North York, but you can be sure he will continue to take pride in the park that bears his name.