With no backyard to retreat to when the COVID-19 lockdown hit, Toronto resident and plant designer Jesse Goldfarb took his green thumb and got to thinking.

The concrete parking alley behind his family residence was not ideal as a place for kids to play or adults to hang out but a gift of $3,000 worth of AstroTurf from Echoing Green Inc., set the stage for a complete driveway-laneway transformation.

In order to create the shared backyard, the four families living in four units of two duplexes on Avenue Road moved their cars to the main street, added potted plants, purchased water toys from Kijiji, set up chairs and an umbrella donated by Hudson’s Bay Company and created a makeshift playground.

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“When COVID hit, we were stuck inside with two kids and it was pretty rough,” said Goldfarb.

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Even though Toronto playgrounds opened up as part of stage three on Friday, Goldfarb and his neighbours said they prefer the security of their transformed laneway. The families meet up for 5 p.m. “happy hour” cocktails and when the sun sets, a simple bed sheet takes on the role of film screen for evening movies.

“In terms of connecting, it’s really allowed us to… get to know each other a lot better and it’s just been life-transforming,” said resident Camille Mauger.

“When the pandemic hit, we all had nowhere to go, we had no way of entertaining our children, so I really think it brought out a real sense of community.”

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Since the residents have been spending so much time together in the laneway and since several of the families do not have immediate family close by, the decision to “bubble” with one another seemed logical.

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“We often refer to ourselves as a summer 2020 family,” said Mauger.

A recently added water mister over the laneway was the most recent addition to the area, but the residents are planning to include a fire pit, a beer fridge and a tiki bar in the coming weeks.




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