Plan for 'majestic' park beneath Gardiner Expressway unveiled
The underside of the Gardiner Expressway is likely to soon include features including a skating rink and an off-leash dog park.
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An open-air market, a skating rink and an off-leash dog park within 10 acres of new public space linked together by gardens and bike trails will be a “suture” for the city’s downtown neighbourhoods and the waterfront, its designers say.
This is the underside of the Gardiner Expressway reimagined by philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews.
They started with donating $25 million, to be managed by Waterfront Toronto, but they had design help from local architect Ken Greenberg and firm PUBLIC WORK.
The project, dubbed “Under Gardiner” for now, was officially announced Tuesday at the Fort York Visitor Centre under newly-painted yellow supports of the western section of the expressway.
“We see this city struggling with this huge explosion of people coming into the downtown and the need for public open space and civic amenities,” Judy Matthews told a news conference. “And if we could help nurture and expand that common ground, the places that we all share, we would hope to do that — like to do that.”
The space will link seven downtown neighbourhoods to the waterfront, benefiting some 70,000 residents, the project team says.
The name will change, with a push for public input on the new linear park space that will stretch from Strachan Ave. to Spadina Ave. The design is malleable too, Matthews told the crowd, though designers have already drawn up detailed maps of how the space might be transformed, with features including water installations, trails and a “grand staircase.”
Waterfront Toronto will be co-ordinating future public consultations.
Mayor John Tory challenged other citizens to partner with the city as he applauded the Matthews for their large gift.
“It’s an incredible and transformative gesture,” Tory said Tuesday. “There really is something quite majestic about this.”
“I think we’re on a path where we’re going to find ways to say yes to things like this.”
Councillor Joe Cressy, whose ward intersects the future park, said the announcement is great news for local residents and the whole city.
“In my neighbourhood, for a lot of my constituents, they live in vertical neighbourhoods,” he said. “Parks become your backyard. Arts and culture and recreational spaces become your living room.”
The expected opening of the new park space is set for 2017, beginning with a western portion up to Bathurst St.
The city and partners are still working out plans for future maintenance and management of the space, Tory said.