A dynamic park that will actually be several parks in one and that will offer visitors a diverse range of experiences and views of the city and surrounding area.
The centrepiece of the West Don Lands, Don River Park will be a 7.3 hectare (18 acre) active, vibrant and inviting park that will not only serve the local community, but residents from throughout Toronto and visitors from far and wide. Construction of the park, which will occupy the south eastern portion of the neighbourhood and will run along the Don River from King Street to the rail corridor in the south, started in September 2010. When completed, the beautiful green space will invite people to the Don River and offer inspiring experiences along the river’s edge as well as spectacular views of downtown and Lake Ontario.
Don River Park will transform an abandoned post-industrial site into a dynamic, year-round, re-naturalized public park, animated by a wide variety of programming and a beautiful multi-functional Pavilion. Innovatively positioned atop the area’s Flood Protection Landform (FPL), the park will renew the site while addressing vital infrastructure, taking full advantage of the robust topography.
The park design by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates was integrated into the contours and the elevation provided by the FPL. The design capitalizes on the unique landscape to open sightlines to the Toronto skyline and the lake, creating a sense of scale and grandeur.
At the broadest scale, the FPL organizes the park both physically and programmatically into two distinct halves. In response to site conditions and FPL regulations that restrict active recreation and the planting of woody vegetation on the eastern slope of the landform, an extensive 3.2 hectare (7.9 acre) urban prairie will be created on the river side of the park. The urban prairie grassland will include an upland meadow on the upper slope, while a lowland wet meadow at the base of the landform will add ecological and experiential diversity. The wet meadow will be a crucial part of a park-wide ecological stormwater recycling system. Meandering trails, multi-use bike paths, and a boardwalk will allow visitors to explore this unique urban landscape. Along the Don River, renewal of the multi-use trail system and new access under the Bala railway corridor will provide direct access to the Don River Trail and the river’s edge.
The 3.6 hectare (8.9 acre) western city side of the FPL is defined by a dynamic, unfolding topography that creates varied, flexible spaces for a diverse range of passive and active pursuits. Woodland plantings will work in concert with the topography to define each space and screen views of the surrounding urban infrastructure. The spaces in this part of the park will be more introspective, allowing immersive experiences of nature providing opportunities for focused specific activities, ranging from soccer and lacrosse to bird watching, picnicking, concerts, and tobogganing.
East of Bayview Avenue, south of King Street, west of GO/CN railroad lines and the Don River to the rail corridor in the south.
7.3 hectares (18 acres)
A spacious playground will occupy one of the park’s central hilltops, bringing a high level of diverse activity to the core of the park. The playground will offer diverse play experiences for children of all ages,balanced by natural features, such as rock outcrops and woodlands with conventional play equipment such as slides, swings, seesaws, and water play. This elevated area will also afford distant views to the river and Lake Ontario beyond, encouraging a sense of connection to the wider landscape.
The play hill also features a pavilion that will serve the practical needs of the park with enclosed bathrooms, a park office, a kitchenette and basement utility space. In keeping with Waterfront Toronto’s sustainable development goals, the pavilion will be powered through solar panels and includes a UV (ultra violet) water treatment system to recycle water for a variety of uses within the park. The pavilion also includes a flexible multi-use exterior community room for meetings, performances and other small-scale community events. A plaza with tables and benches, and an outdoor fireplace will encourage gatherings in all seasons.
East of the playground and pavilion, a series of open lawns will provide ample space for both informal and organized sports and activities. At the end of Front Street, the park’s 4,500 square metre central lawn will accommodate multiple uses, such as games, picnicking, and sunbathing. The lawn may also be used as an amphitheatre, with gently sloping sides providing space for comfortable seating. To the south there will be a slightly smaller 3,000 square metre lawn that may be used for informal games and leisurely activities. The far southern end of the park will be home to a 30 metre x 60 metre athletic field for organized youth sports. In the winter, the field will serve as the base of a sledding hill that rises toward the playground.
North of the three lawns there will be a large marsh (approximately 1,300 square metres), wrapped by landforms and woodland vegetation. Supporting plant communities native to the Don River Valley, the marsh will demonstrate the site’s ecological heritage as a Crown Reserve, providing habitat for wildlife and space for passive recreation. The marsh is an essential part of the park’s ecological stormwater management system, receiving and treating runoff from the western side of the FPL.
Visit our webcam and watch construction unfold in the West Don Lands. Click on the thumbnail to view the construction web camera.