By Sonya James
Posting in Cities
Toronto is finally taking action against the downtown highway that blocks access to the waterfront. The Underpass Park opens this summer, but will anyone want to play there?
The debate about highway removal in Toronto has been waging for decades - and for good reason.
The Gardiner Expressway blocks the entire downtown core from the waterfront. And it's no surprise the Gardiner made the 2012 Freeways Without Futures List. The ugly grey concrete pillars looming before the pristine waters of Lake Ontario don't exactly scream, "Come have fun with your family!" In fact, simply crossing the street can feel perilous.
But apparently, things have changed. Or at least, change is under foot.
The Underpass Park is the first attempt at transforming the space under and around a series of overpasses in Toronto - and by far the most ambitious redevelopment of its kind in Canadian history.
The park will be 2.5 acres, boast 54 new trees, and "convert a neighborhood liability into a welcoming and distinct public space," according to Waterfront Toronto.
The first phase of the park will open this summer.
The following video, from the Toronto Star, illustrates the parts of the park that have been built:
Would you bring your child to play in this "completely re-imagined space"? Those massive concrete pillars seem to cast quite a shadow - literally and figuratively speaking.
Images: Waterfront Toronto
Mar 28, 2012
It will be interesting to see how the new businesses fare. Cafes are part of the development. Having lived in Toronto for over ten years, I'm definitely more skeptical than The Toronto Star???s Christopher Hume. I don't know that "amenity" is the word I would use for this park.
Studies have shown there is a very strong correlation between exposure to emissions from vehicles near major roadways (distance less or at. 30m.) and adverse health outcomes. I would not let my kids play is all that exhaust that close to a highway. What were the designers thinking? Did anyone even think of consulting with health authorities before sticking a kiddie park under one of the busiest highways in the country???
Paradise for the homeless, that is. Nothing would look like the designer's protrait. I don't know if any people would sit there for even a while, with the constant piercing noise from Toronto's busiest highway over your head, and toxic exhaust and dust...another typical wasteful project from a government. And it is Gardiner Expressway, by the way.
Have you ever stood under one of those overpasses to get out of a downpour? I did on my last visit to Toronto in 2007. In two words. Annoyingly loud. Not what I would call a family atmosphere. Nice try. When the headline said park I was thinking green space, not outdoor mall. A green space with walking trails would be better than this plan. More trees would also help dampen the road noise.