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Two new Toronto waterfront parks, 10 designs: which will you choose?

July 5, 2018
Claire Floody

Toronto is getting two new waterfront parks, and it’s the public’s turn to sway the decision on their designs.

Five proposals for each park in York Street and Rees Street Park Design Competition have been shortlisted.

York Street Park will be at the southern foot of York St., and Rees Street Park at the bottom of Rees St., both running along the north side of Queens Quay W. The parks will be 650 metres apart.

Waterfront Toronto partnered with the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division to create a six-week competition looking for “bold and innovative” designs for the two parks.

“These two new parks will exemplify the innovative ways we’re addressing the needs of our growing downtown,” Mayor John Tory said in a news release.

The first stage of the competition was launched in February with more than 40 international design teams submitting proposals.

The 10 selected designs, five for each park, were unveiled Wednesday, beginning the public portion of the competition. The proposals will be on display at Toronto City Hall or available online, so that members of the public can provide feedback. This feedback will help inform the final decision made by the competition’s selection committee.

The shortlist for creative park designs:

York Street Park

Rees Street Park

There is a large range of designs, from York Forest, which aims to create an urban sanctuary in the downtown core with 90 per cent of the site’s area covered by vegetative canopy, to Rees Ridge, a vertical interactive garden inspired by the Scarborough Bluffs.

Park Vert has a unique tree walk, an elevated walkway that encircles the park providing picturesque views of the city. And what about The Nest? A park inspired by backyards centred around play and community; a park with a hammock grove, backyard barbecue and a rooftop bark park for dogs..

The exhibition will be open to the public during regular hours in the rotunda at Toronto City Hall until July 17.

The competition’s selection committee is expected to choose the two final designs in early fall. Construction of the York Street Park is expected to begin in 2019, with Rees Street Park following in 2020.

Four objectives were outlined on Waterfront Toronto’s website:

Offer compelling new park experiences and support a range of social activities for a diverse group of people and community groups.

Provide opportunities to incorporate innovative public art and art programs.
Act as key gateways and arrival points to the waterfront by welcoming visitors and creating memorable experiences.

Strive to uphold a high standard of design excellence and quality of place that has been achieved across the waterfront.