Philanthropists fund $25m park under a Toronto highway

Thanks to millions of dollars donated by philanthropists, an ambitious 10-acre public space will be designed and built under the huge elevated expressway cutting through the waterfront heart of downtown Toronto, Canada.

The CAN$25m gift will see museums, an aquarium, performance spaces, a cycle path and more along a 2-km stretch of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, built along the shore of Lake Ontario in the 1950s.

Philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews are behind the scheme, called ‘Under Gardiner’, which aims to knit communities together with "innovative programmable spaces that will showcase Toronto’s unique cultural and related offerings."

Events are planned to take place all-year-round in the new space, which is currently seen by many residents as a dispiriting, concrete wasteland.

The development will be split into three sections:

  • West will be a "creative action hub" containing an adventure playground, urban theatre and open air hall;
  • Fort Central a "programmed landscape and passive hub" housing a water garden and skating in the winter, and
  • East, dubbed as "community link" with amenities, containing a fitness park and a "future community centre."

Ken Greenberg will lead the design team, working with Adam Nicklin and Marc Ryan of Public Works. Waterfront Toronto will also lead public engagement and consultation.

Construction is to start in the summer of 2016, with the initial phase due for completion in 2017.

Images via Public Works

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  1. A novel idea. However the Gardiner is decades past its ‘use before’ date & is nothing but a crumbling, ugly, concrete scar slashing across the face of Toronto’s waterfront. Even now there are frequent reports of chunks of concrete falling off the Gardiner onto the roadway below – which brings up another question – the roadway below. Currently tens of thousands of cars every day use the Lakeshore Boulevard which is currently und the Gardiner. Where are all those cars expected go? As years go by the crumbling will accelerate & at SOME POINT the city will be forced to deal with it. The only real solution is to tear it down, rejoin the city core with the waterfront & replace the Gardiner with a tunnel. The problem is that the current left wing city council doesn’t have the b@lls to deal with the truth.

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