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Downtown skating trail under Gardiner Expressway to open this winter

More outdoor activities that are part of the project, including a grassy amphitheatre and wooden boardwalk, are projected to be ready by June next year.

A skating rink is being built under the Gardiner.

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A skating rink is being built under the Gardiner.

Soon you'll be able to drive over the Gardiner and skate underneath it.

A 220-metre skating trail is under construction below the western part of the expressway. Workers poured the concrete this past Saturday and will continue their efforts until the trail's official opening, scheduled for early 2018, according to the project's manager of communications Kasia Gladki.

It's part of The Bentway project, an attempt to transform the vacant area under the highway into a vibrant gathering place for recreation and artistic engagement.

"This residential neighbourhood has a large number of people living in condos without much public space that they can enjoy and come together," said Gladki. "So we wanted this trail to be really very accessible to the community and then to Toronto as a whole."

The trail is a figure-eight running the length of four bents that support the highway, from east of the Fort York Visitor’s Centre to Bastion Street near June Callwood Park. An opening party is expected to take place in early January, Gladki said, and the path will be open to the public for the entire skating season.

The Bentway project comes from a partnership between the non-profit Bentway Conservancy and the City of Toronto as well as other collaborators such as Artscape, Waterfront Toronto, Ken Greenberg Consultants, Fort York Visitor's Centre and Public Work. Following several consultations to decide on the name, Julian Sleath was hired last March as CEO to spearhead the project's execution.

While the skating trail will be the first element of The Bentway to open to the public, Gladki said many more outdoor initiatives will follow. They'll include a grassy amphitheatre for music performances and movie screenings; a wooden boardwalk section near the Fort York Visitor Centre meant to evoke the original shoreline of Lake Ontario; and a multi-use trail for walking and biking, among other things.

"We are hoping that the entire length of the full site from Strachan to Bathurst will be ready and open in June next year," she said.

Learn More

Find more details on the under-Gardiner transformation at thebentway.ca

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