Most people wouldn’t think of taking their children to play, walking their dog or spending leisure time in a derelict area below an underpass, but the planners behind an innovative new park hope to change that.
Underpass Park, a project that aims to transform an ugly and incidental space into something exceptional, is slated to open in the spring of 2011.
This new and unusual urban area will be the largest public space below an overpass in Canada and the first of its kind in the city.
Its construction, sped up thanks to Toronto’s successful Pan-American Games bid, starts this summer and is part of the metamorphosis underway in the West Don Lands where the industrial landscape is being transformed into vibrant residential and public space in preparation for the 2015 Pan-Am event.
The new public space will be located under the Richmond and Adelaide overpasses around Eastern Avenue, between Cherry Street and Bayview Avenue, with the Pan-Am athletes village and the Gardiner Expressway to the south.
“Underpass Park is a crucial step in delivering on our promise to revitalize the West Don Lands into Toronto’s next great neighbourhood,” John Campbell, President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto, said.
While the main goal of Underpass Park is to transform the unused space into an innovative and charming urban oasis, the planners believe this $5.3 million project, funded by the federal government, will improve connectivity in the area. The new $300 million River City condo development, near King Street West and River, and the first phase of a major new public housing development are both slated to open in 2012.
Construction on the centrepiece of the reformed neighbourhood, the 17-acre Don River Park, will start this summer and work on building the area’s flood-protection landform is nearly complete.
A new east-west road north of Underpass Park will be modelled after the “woonerfs” in Europe – narrow and pedestrian-friendly streets in which cars are considered guests as opposed to the priority.