July 30, 2003
by Nyla Matuk
Urban Strategies Inc., a Toronto planning and urban design firm, has been selected along with a consortium of partners for the development of the $3.5 billion Canada Water waterfront site in southeast London, England. The partners include British Land , property developers, and Canada Quays Ltd. A vote yesterday by London’s Southwark Council has designated Urban Strategies Inc. as “lead master planners” for the 16-hectare property, which fronts the Thames River across from the Docklands, on the Rotherhithe Peninsula just west of Greenwich. The area is a former water supply for gunpowder factories built in the 16th century but was given the name Canada Water when the docks later housed and unloaded timber, grain, and other raw materials from Canada. An extension of the Jubilee tube line to Canada Water in 1999, and the adjacent development of Docklands’ Canary Wharf earlier has partly revitalized the area. The Urban Strategies Inc. plan for Canada Water will build on a traditional pattern for London and include new streets, pedestrian ways, green spaces, and water links with new mixed-income residential communities, a central library, and a new community resource centre. Two distinct but integrated districts of low and medium-density housing are also proposed, the Maple and Blue Heron Districts.
A commercial/retail sector will be designated the Galleria District and the riverside will be fronted by a wooden boardwalk. A retail glassed-in galleria will replace part of the current large parking lots to form a canal-side High Street, and public areas will include such “Canadian” features as outcroppings of Canadian Shieldrock similar to that found in Toronto on Cumberland Street and at Ryerson University’s skating rink. The plan’s environmental features, formed in consultation with the community, includes a network of raised islands of different heights with lower ones planted with reeds for the creation of bird and fish habitat and higher ones planted with willow, alder and other trees.
Urban Startegies Inc. will also develop the $4.7 billion Silvertown Quays project, the last large site in the Royal Docks district of the city east of Canary Wharf.