July 13, 2014
by Canadian Architect
Last week, Waterfront Toronto and its government partners celebrated the official opening of Corktown Common with a ribbon cutting ceremony in the park.
Corktown Common, Waterfront Toronto’s signature new park in the emerging West Don Lands, is a destination park that both protects Toronto’s eastern downtown from flooding and serves as a multi-use urban green space. With spectacular views of Toronto’s skyline and a wide range of leisure and recreational features, Corktown Common is the centerpiece of the new community.
“Corktown Common shows that Waterfront Toronto is delivering on our mandate to transform underutilized brownfields into beautiful new waterfront neighbourhoods that deliver environmental, social and economic benefits and to position the City of Toronto as a world leader in creating sustainable communities,” said Mark Wilson, Chair, Waterfront Toronto.
High-quality parks and public spaces help create a sense of identity and place and are critical to the successful development of new neighbourhoods. By taking an abandoned post-industrial site and turning it into a must-see destination, Waterfront Toronto has created a valued community asset that serves the new West Don Lands community and the surrounding area.
“The revitalization of the Toronto waterfront has been and will remain a priority for the Harper Government,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance. “Through the Corktown Common project and other infrastructure initiatives we are helping to create jobs and economic growth, while supporting a vibrant waterfront that will attract the citizens of Toronto and new businesses to the area.”
“Corktown Common is a perfect example of how government investments can create not just beautiful parks, but also the great new downtown communities that will help Toronto stay economically vibrant and competitive,” said Glen Murray, MPP for Toronto Centre and Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. “Ontario’s investment in the flood protection infrastructure under this park is the foundation of Corktown Common and the West Don Lands community and protects a large portion of downtown Toronto from the impacts of climate change.”
“Corktown Common is a huge asset to the City and a great addition to our extensive park offerings along the waterfront, said Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. “It is a beautiful new green space that has connected this long-neglected area to surrounding neighbourhoods, Toronto’s Don Valley and waterfront trails, and the rest of the city.”
At 7.3 hectares (18 acres), Corktown Common is the largest park in the area and one of the largest parks being built as part of waterfront revitalization. The park is innovatively positioned atop the area’s flood protection landform that protects more than 200 hectares (over 500 acres) of downtown Toronto – including a portion of the city’s financial district – from flooding. Utilizing the flood protection landform for a large community park is a creative and sustainable use of critical infrastructure and is an example of Waterfront Toronto’s approach to combining valuable infrastructure with community assets.
Corktown Common is a key part of the transformation of the area from former industrial lands into a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive mixed-use community. The award-winning park has been a catalyst for neighbourhood regeneration and economic development and a major draw for local developers Urban Capital and Dundee Kilmer.
Corktown Common offers something for everyone. The playgrounds, splash pad, athletic field and large central lawn can be used for informal gatherings or organized activities. The flexible outdoor space, tables, benches, bbq and fireplace create welcoming spots for the community to meet and socialize.
With more than 700 trees and thousands of shrubs, groundcovers, and aquatic plants, Corktown Common is a diversely planted habitat with ecological richness that encourages biodiversity and a healthy forested area within the park.
The practical needs of the park are served by the striking and sustainable pavilion at the play hill that contains washrooms, stormwater management equipment and utility space. In keeping with Waterfront Toronto’s sustainable building approach, solar panels have been included on the pavilion to supplement onsite power needs.
Corktown Common is located between Bayview Avenue and the GO/CN railroad lines, from King Street to the rail corridor in the south in the West Don Lands. The public can access Corktown Common from Bayview Avenue at Lower River Street or from the Don Valley Trail at the Bala Underpass.
The West Don Lands – a 32-hectare (80 acre) site being transformed from former industrial lands into a sustainable, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, riverside community – is one of the first communities being developed as part of waterfront revitalization.
Designed and built as part of the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront, ownership of Corktown Common will be transferred to the City of Toronto when complete. Once transferred, the park will be operated and maintained by the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department.
The Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Toronto created Waterfront Toronto to oversee and lead the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. Public accessibility, design excellence, sustainable development, economic development and fiscal sustainability are the key drivers of waterfront revitalization. Great parks and public spaces are a vital part of the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. Since 2004, Waterfront Toronto has opened 23 new or improved parks or public spaces.
For more information, please visit www.waterfrontoronto.ca/1999/11/waterfront_toronto_officially_opens_corktown_common