News / Toronto

New CEO to lead transformation of space under Gardiner Expressway

Julian Sleath, who has extensive experience in planning cultural programs, will spearhead The Bentway, formerly known as Project: Under Gardiner.

The view under the Gardiner Expressway south-east from the Fort York Visitors Centre. The area is included in the Bentway, formerly named Project: Under Gardiner.

File / Torstar News Service Order this photo

The view under the Gardiner Expressway south-east from the Fort York Visitors Centre. The area is included in the Bentway, formerly named Project: Under Gardiner.

Julian Sleath sounds as excited about The Bentway as his appointment to spearhead it.

“The Bentway is a go now. It’s going to happen,” the executive director of performing arts at the Banff Centre told Metro shortly after he was announced as the downtown Toronto project’s CEO.

“We’re talking about an extraordinary mixture of passion for the arts and community engagement plus urban landscape construction. I couldn’t be happier.”

Formerly known as the Under Gardiner Project, The Bentway is touted as a transformation of the space beneath the Gardiner Expressway into a vibrant public space for community gathering and artistic engagement.

Julian Sleath, a long-time producer of theatrical and cultural events, has been named CEO of The Bentway. He starts the job on March 27.

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Julian Sleath, a long-time producer of theatrical and cultural events, has been named CEO of The Bentway. He starts the job on March 27.

It’s run through the non-profit organization The Bentway Conservancy in partnership with the city of Toronto.

As the first full-time senior hire for the project, Sleath said he’ll concentrate efforts on putting together the logistical necessities to get the initiative off the ground. But, strategically, he added it’s important to listen to the wishes of the community and make sure they’re reflected in the project’s architectural design.

Drawing from his previous experiences leading large-scale public events and artistic companies, Sleath said the essential part is about making sure the project connects people back to their city.

“It’s a project for the city, not by the city,” he said, noting The Bentway success will be measured from both its multiple roles of representing the city’s diverse communities and its ability to attract tourists.

“Love it or loathe it, the Gardiner is an icon of the city and The Bentway is the best way to embrace it.”

A stacked resume:

Sleath has led several large-scale public events including:

  • Toronto’s Nuit Blanche
  • Doors Open
  • 2015 Pan Am Games
  • Canada Day celebrations

He has also managed events at:

  • The Canadian Opera Company
  • An outdoor stage in Dallas
  • Theatre and concert halls in the U.K. and Russia.

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