A superpark hides in Toronto’s Don Valley, waiting to be discovered

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A superpark hides in Toronto’s Don Valley, waiting to be discovered

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A superpark hides in Toronto’s Don Valley, waiting to be discovered

What if Toronto had a massive park ready to be born? A 480-acre green space on the edge of downtown with dramatic topography, a rich mix of plant and animal life and deep links to the history of Toronto?

It does: the lower part of the Don Valley. And after a century of neglecting and abusing that space, it is time for Torontonians to bring it back.

City officials and Evergreen, a non-profit group, have been working for months on an ambitious goal to transform a stretch of the valley, from Pottery Road down to Front Street near the river’s mouth, into a massive park.

You probably don’t know that landscape well. Most Torontonians don’t. We’ve seen it through car windows on the Valley Parkway, from the Bloor Street subway, from the windows of a GO train – but rarely from within. Though the upper Don Valley is relatively green and well used by locals, this part has been a dumping ground, a waste sink and a transportation corridor for more than a century. The potential for regeneration is awesome. But we have to learn how to see it.

To help that process, Evergreen brought together landscape architects and other professionals for a design charette in October. During a rainy two days at the Brickworks, a consensus emerged: that with better access and changes to the infrastructure in the valley, the city could gain a tremendous public space, insurance against the effects of climate change and a healthier river valley.

Perched over a large map of the area, landscape architect Claude Cormier laid down a piece of tracing paper and pulled out a red marker. “This is Central Park,” he explained, sketching a rectangle that represented about 800 acres. “It’s not so far in scale, and it is a park with an urban edge. So is this valley.” […]

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