$25-million project reimagines area under Toronto’s Gardiner with paths, cultural spaces

$25-million project reimagines area under toronto's gardiner with paths, cultural spaces
A ‘grand staircase’ at the corner of Strachan Avenue would serve as a gathering place and an informal ampitheatre for performances and gatherings / Image: PUBLIC WORK

For decades, the Gardiner Expressway has been a barrier between downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario. That promises to change in 2017, as a 10-acre space under the highway becomes a network of pathways and gathering places that binds a fast-growing part of the city together.

This is the promise of a bold new public-space project, which will be formally announced on Tuesday morning. Supported by a $25-million private donation, the initiative will remake an area under the Gardiner – stretching over 1.75 kilometres – into a place unlike any other in the city.

Called Project: Under Gardiner, it would combine a walking and cycling trail with covered public spaces that can be used for markets, meetings and performances. “It’s not just a park, and it’s not just a trail,” Adam Nicklin, a partner at the landscape architecture firm Public WORK and one of the lead designers, told me last week. “It is a series of spaces that can be a showcase for all that is exciting about Toronto.”

The first phase of the project is scheduled to start the planning process shortly and to be completed, quickly, by July, 2017. It will include a continuous trail from near Strachan Avenue all the way to Spadina Avenue, punctuated by two major elements: an outdoor “grand stair” at the intersection of Strachan and a pedestrian bridge that spans Fort York Boulevard. […]