Pessoa Park – A New Park at Dufferin & Peel
Pessoa Park is currently under construction. The park is expected to open in spring 2020.
A public survey of potential names for the park was completed in 2016 and the new park name, Pessoa Park, was selected through the public vote. Pessoa means “person” in Portuguese, reflecting the community’s cultural heritage.
The North Plaza is at the mid-level of the park with access points at the corners. A multi-use, hard-paved space is at the confluence of circulation.
Water features indicated are an array of aerated jets projecting from the ground at the north end and misting nozzles at the north wall that produce a fog or cloud effect. The cooling effect of water features will be interactive for children, welcomed on a hot summer day by all and will not be visible in winter.
The location of the water feature creates a focal point from both ends of the park – from the Dufferin and Peel corner as well as from the south end at the Rail Path. The pattern of paving around the water feature surrounded by green lawns, trees and lush planting is the centrepiece of the new neighbourhood park.
The south end of the park meets the new Metrolinx Bridge Extension Project and will connect with the future Rail Path extension. The City has undertaken coordination meetings with all of the stakeholders and consultants for the West Toronto Rail Path Study to encourage a bridge alignment/design that fits with the proposed new park and Rail Path.
The solution is a complex issue, requiring decisions with consideration of property boundaries, design and constructability and phasing. The bridge abutment and Rail Path for bicycles is a major element that will have an impact on the landscape design for the new city park at the south end of the site.
The supportable bridge alignment/design required time to organize and develop to a level of design that can reasonably be represented in the Final Design Concept for this new park.
The final bridge alignment and layout maintains many of the features expressed as desirable at the community meetings. It was acknowledged that the area will be a future hub for bicycle path users and that the preferred access should be on the west side of Dufferin. Among the features for the new park are seating, lush meadowland landscaping, lighted terraces and a lookout focused on the park, while accommodating visiting cyclists.
The wide-sloped Central Green connects the North and South Plazas at the base of the building frontage. A gentle grade of approximately 3% is maximized as a flexible-use lawn by providing access in the corners instead of across in both directions. Seat walls on the sides reinforce the edges and a curb or grass-jointed paving provide a transition to the North Plaza and the South Plaza.
Dufferin Street Streetscape
Aggressive existing grades, the hydro Meter Station and street lights complicate the Dufferin streetscape edge. The existing sidewalk is not of appropriate dimensions to provide space for trees and/or a landscape buffer for the New City Park. Seat walls at the inside sidewalk edge allow for grades between the boulevard and the park to become independent, creating an intermediate place. Additional landscaping and strategic location of trees in the Dufferin Street Boulevard screens utilities; provides a green buffer; and, extends the park experience between the street and the park. This buffer also allows the interior of the park to have an improved sense of calm character.
Peel Avenue, within the City right-of-way is represented as the future layout of sidewalk and curb, including streetscaping features such as a continuous landscape boulevard and street trees. Peel Avenue will be constructed by the City of Toronto, separately from the Park.
A grouping of trees in a grove near the corner, along with trees at the north edge, creates opportunities for shade. The space overlooks on to the North Plaza and the Central Green. Benches among the trees create places for quiet rest, relaxation and reading. Areas of fine-textured granular paving within the park will allow groundwater infiltration as well as a comfortable walking surface texture.
Construction began in March 2019. The new bridge extension, completed by Metrolinx in 2017, will host the future Rail Path extension to connect to and complement the new park at this location.
The park is expected to open in spring 2020, weather permitting.