Located under and around the Eastern Avenue and Richmond/Adelaide overpasses in the West Don Lands, the first phase of the Underpass Park has been officially opened. “Underpass Park is an example of creative city building,” said John Campbell, president and CEO, Waterfront Toronto, at the presentation. “By viewing the space under the overpasses as an opportunity, we turned a potential liability into a great neighbourhood asset, one that helps connect the community and raises the bar for urban space.”
Designed by landscape architecture firm Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg with The Planning Partnership, the park takes advantage of massive overpass structures to provide weather protection for large parts of the park, creating a year-round community amenity. A key feature is a public art installation by Toronto artist Paul Raff, called Mirage, which uses mirrored stainless steel panels suspended from the overpass to reflect and bounce light within the space.
Constructed in two phases, the first completed sections of the park are between St. Lawrence Street and Bayview Avenue. Visitors can access the completed portions of the park from River Street, south of King Street. Phase Two of Underpass Park, located west of St. Lawrence Street to Eastern Avenue, is currently under construction and expected to open in spring 2013. When complete, Underpass Park will cover a total of 1.05 hectares (2.7acres).
Representatives from all three levels of government were at the public unveiling, and all took credit to some degree for the park’s creation while simultaneously echoing what can be achieved when different levels of government work together. “As the federal minister responsible for the GTA and the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative—and after having been at the ground-breaking of Underpass Park a year ago—I am pleased once again that our government is part of this remarkable transformation along Toronto’s lakeshore,” said Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance. “Our Government is proud to invest in key infrastructure projects that create local jobs and economic growth, and improve the quality of life for Canadians,” said Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. “The McGuinty government is proud to be part of the development of Underpass Park and the West Don Lands,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Transportation.