Imagine this: an “outdoor living room” in the heart of the city that will reside under the Gardiner Expressway.
If you thought such a dream only lives in the imagination, think again.
The city, along with Waterfront Toronto, announced Tuesday a partnership to transform more than four hectares, or 10 acres, under the expressway between Strachan and Spadina avenues in several public spaces.
The $25-million gift from philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews will also enable residents to enjoy a 1.75-kilometre multi-use trail for walking and cycling. It will also feature a 500-metre connection to the Exhibition GO station.
Mayor John Tory, Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell, and Toronto councillors Joe Cressy (Ward 20) and Mike Layton (Ward 19), among others, were on hand for the announcement on Tuesday morning.
The plan, which is temporarily called Project: Under Gardiner, will convert the area into community spaces that will host several cultural programs, and create a “new outdoor living room for the use of the 70,000 residents in nearby neighbourhoods and for visitors,” the city said in a release.
Watch an overview of the project below, or click here for a mobile-friendly version.
Major John Tory said the project will “help bridge the divide between our city and our waterfront with creativity, beauty and vision.”
“It will bring life and activity to a formerly sterile area of the city and will offer new connections to the revitalized waterfront,” Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell said.
The project will also bridge residents from the Liberty Village, Niagara, Fort York, Bathurst Quay, Wellington Place and CityPlace areas with up to 55 civic spaces – or rooms – that emphasize the city’s unique arts and culture scene, as well as its sports and education offerings.
“These spaces have been conceived as ‘rooms’ that are defined by the series of concrete post-and-beam structural elements supporting the Gardiner.”
The off-street trail will connect Torontonians to several attractions and city sites along the waterfront, including the Molson Amphitheatre, BMO Field, Historic Fort York, Toronto Music Garden and the revitalized Queens Quay, Harbourfront Centre, the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, Toronto Railway Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Air Canada Centre and the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal.
City planner Ken Greenberg, along with architecture firm Public Work, will develop the design the space underneath the Gardiner. Waterfront Toronto will manage and build the project.
Torontonians will be invited to share their views and give feedback on the design process. They can also offer suggestions on what the call the new space under the campaign “Reclaim the Name.” Details of the consultation process will be revealed at a later date.
The city says construction is expected to start in the summer of 2016, and aim to finish the initial phase of the project in 2017.