Located at the foot of Lower Rees Street
and Queens Quay in the Central Waterfront
Inspired by Scarborough’s signature bluffs, Rees Ridge (currently Rees Street Park) is designed to be a dynamic and lush vertical landscape infused with play and culture in Toronto’s waterfront district.
Located at the southern foot of Rees Street at Queens Quay, this 9,500 square metre (2.3 acres) park sits in a residential part of the waterfront just south of the Rogers Centre, CN Tower and Entertainment District. The site is currently operated as a parking lot.
Designed by wHY Architecture in partnership with Brook Mcllroy, Rees Ridge is a hybrid of infrastructure and the geology of Lake Ontario’s landscape. At the heart of this bold and thoughtfully designed space is a large ridge that offers a new vantage point for viewing the lake and a backdrop for the lively activity of the park below. Rees Ridge features a variety of play areas and open spaces for relaxation or programming and events, along with diverse native vegetation and a market area that will animate the space year-round.
Innovative design competition
In February 2018, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation division launched an international design competition for the design of Rees Street Park (and York Street Park). More than 40 design teams from 18 cities world-wide submitted proposals during the pre-qualification stage of the competition. Five design teams were shortlisted to participate in the six-week design competition for Rees Street Park.
wHY Architecture in partnership with Brook Mcllroy and their proposal – Rees Ridge – was selected as the winning entry for Rees Street Park. The proposal's bold design allows for year-round activity and includes exciting potential for future programming and events that will meet the needs of local residents and visitors, along with many opportunities for flexible art integration.
Since the design competition, the park’s design has evolved to incorporate feedback from the competition jury, the Waterfront Design Review Panel (DRP), the public and various stakeholders. The scope of the project was also adjusted to enhance or add new features, while some aspects were removed from the design to optimize the park’s functionality.
The park envisions an expanded playground area, recreational courts, the waterfront’s largest off leash dog area, a large lawn for flexible programming and relaxation, as well as plenty of seating and space for pop-up vendors year-round. Construction of Rees Ridge is expected to commence in 2024.
In addition to providing a lush respite within the downtown core, the design for Rees Ridge will also accommodate the future construction of an important storm shaft in the eastern area of the park. The storm shaft will be part of the Toronto Water, City of Toronto’s Inner Harbour Tunnel Project, which is expected to begin construction in 2029.
Consultation and public engagement
Communication and engagement with the public was a key part of the design competition. A Stakeholder Advisory Committee comprised of local residents, businesses and neighbourhood groups met at key points during the competition to provide advice and feedback to the project team and the jury.
In July 2018, the shortlisted proposals were put on public exhibition at Toronto City Hall and online, giving Torontonians an opportunity to review the proposals and provide feedback. Following the public feedback period, public comments were summarized in a Public Feedback Report that was delivered to the competition jury for consideration, along with reports from the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee.
Since the design competition, a new Stakeholder Advisory Committee has been formed for Rees Ridge. The initial schematic design was presented to the Waterfront Design Review Panel in late 2022 and we have sought early feedback from the Stakeholder Advisory Committees (SAC) which has provided some helpful insights to the design team.
By the end of 2023, Rees Street Park is expected to reach 60% design. We will also be hosting a public consultation around the same time to seek broad public feedback on the programming in the park. Public engagement is an important part of our design process and essential to creating a valued public green space on the waterfront.