April 16, 2004
by Canadian Architect
On April 13th, the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation (TWRC) unveiled two design options and launched a public consultation process for a 41-acre waterfront park that will help meet city-wide demand for playing fields for sports like soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
“Great cities are defined by the quality of their parks and public spaces,” said Robert Fung TWRC’s chair.” Commissioners Park is TWRC’s first new waterfront park and it will set a very high standard for waterfront public spaces.”
Commissioners Park , located in the Portlands between the Keating Channel and Commissioners Street, is being designed to be both a waterfront landmark and an active recreation space. The park will help meet existing demand for playing fields and park space as well as the future needs of new waterfront communities in the West Don Lands, East Bayfront and Portlands.
The Commissioners Park design team is made up of three firms ENVision-The Hough Group, Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes and E.R.A. Architects. The diverse landscape of Commissioners Park will accommodate a range of activities: larger fields for recreational sports, forests for casual walks, groves for intimate gatherings. These features along with views back to the downtown core will make Commissioners Park one of the best in the city. The history and ecology of the site and the Don Greenway are also important elements of the park design.
“We see the park as a pivotal piece that not only ties together the ecology of the Don River with recreation uses, but also the point where the three new communities of the West Don lands, East Bayfront and Portlands meet,” said David Leintster, a landscape architect with ENVision-The Hough Group.
TWRC is looking for public input on two design options. They are being put forward to generate discussion and provide a framework for the final park plan.
The first option “Green Room” is for a park with an urban presence similar to New York ‘s Central Park . It would be surrounded by an urban forest with a rectangular green space in the centre for playing fields. The surrounding forest would be made up of trees of iconic quality like the chestnut trees in Grange Park , the black oaks in High Park or the black willows of the Beach. The second option ” Camouflage Park ,” playfully appropriates the art of “camouflage” to address the former industrial and munitions history of the Commissioner’s Park site. Camouflage Park proposes a flexible, organic demarcation of spaces, resulting in a picturesque patchwork of dramatic landscapes, interweaving ecological functions within a landscape system, Camouflage Park’ s diversity of landforms provides a unique backdrop to the wide range of recreational activities available in the park.
“Commissioners Park will become more than another local park; we envision it as a metropolitan icon whose landscape strategy will evoke poetry and reverie without compromising its sports agenda,” said landscape architect Claude Cormier .
Many field sports are played year-round. The design team is considering options to cover some of the fields and using artificial turf to provide for 12-month use. The park design will be flexible to accommodate the unique requirements of different sports field size, markings and turf.
The design team is also considering facilities for indoor recreation activities like swimming, hockey, and basketball. These facilities could be located outside the park but close to it. The final plan for Commissioners Park will be submitted to the City of Toronto with the precinct plans for the West Don Lands and East Bayfront in June.
TWRC’s Central Waterfront Public Space Framework calls for the development of 500 acres of new and improved waterfront parks and public spaces. Other TWRC park and public space projects currently underway include the expansion of the water’s edge at Harbourfront Centre and the revitalization of Cherry Beach.
Commissioner Park Public Forums:
May 6–7:00 p.m. 9:30 p.m. Stone Distillery, 55 Mill Street ,Toronto
June 15–7:00 p.m. 9:30 p.m. Location to be confirmed