Toh Yi Interim Park

Text by Eugene Tan

While it served residents well during its short existence, this now-infamous temporary park became part of the country’s dialogue on space for the elderly and NIMBYism, and will be remembered for unsavoury reasons.

The Park in 2012 (Photo credit: Eugene Tan)

Between 2011 and 2013, the once-unoccupied plot of grass between Toh Yi Drive and Blocks 11 and 12 of Toh Yi Garden was transformed into a park. Although the Housing Board had reserved the land for future development, it was leased to the Bukit Timah Citizens' Consultative Committee on a temporary basis to allow for a basketball court, jogging path, rest areas and garden.

The site of new elderly housing in Toh Yi estate

In February 2012, the Interim Park drew the nation’s attention after some 230 residents opposed plans for the park’s development into studio apartments for the elderly. The petition these residents signed a day after development plans were announced, appeared to conflate opinion of the many, lamenting the loss of ‘breathing space’ which helped foster a ‘kampong spirit’ in the estate. However, a separate argument emerged in the following days, one which drew attention to the chosen site’s location at the top of a steep 200m slope, and its distance from local amenities.

Toh Yi residents petition signing

The Toh Yi Elderly Housing Petition being signed

Resident proposal for alternate elderly housing site in Toh Yi estate

Although some residents developed alternative proposals and submitted them to the area’s Member of Parliament, it was announced in March that development would proceed as planned and construction of the studio apartments started in early 2013. To mitigate the steep climb along Toh Yi Drive that new elderly residents would have to undertake, several sheltered rest stops were constructed along the sloped portion of the road in anticipation of the Elderly Housing's completion.