Apply to be a member of the Community Advisory Committee to help develop the winning park design. The application closes on June 16, 2024.

A new 2,600m2 park is coming to 229 Richmond St. W. The site is currently leased to a restaurant and used as an outdoor patio. Wàwàtesí, the proposed design by West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture and team has been selected as the winning design through a two-stage design competition. There will be various opportunities for the community to get involved in the park design process in 2024.

While we aim to provide fully accessible content, there is no text alternative available for some of the content on this site. If you require alternate formats or need assistance understanding our maps, drawings, or any other content, please contact Erika Richmond at 416-394-5770.

  • 2023: Hire a design team through a two-stage design competition
  • 2022 to 2024: Community engagement
  • 2023 to 2024: Design development
  • 2024: Detailed design and hire a construction team
  • 2025: Construction starts
  • 2026: Construction complete

The timeline is subject to change.

Community Advisory Committee Application

May 29 to June 16, 2024

Apply to be a member of the Community Advisory Committee to help develop the winning park design. The application closes on June 16 at 11:55 p.m.

Level of Engagement

This project has been classified as a Collaborate project based on the International Association of Public Participation Spectrum. This means we aim to partner with the public, stakeholders and rightsholders in each aspect of the design process, including the development of design options and the identification of a preferred design.

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Wàwàtesí, by West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, hcma Architecture and Design, Native Art Department International, MinoKamik Collective, ARUP, KG&A, ERA Architects and A.W. Hooker

Wàwàtesí (Firefly in Anishinaabemowin) was selected from the shortlisted designs as the winning design by a jury of experts in landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, art, curation, climate resilience, and Indigenous design. The Jury’s decision was based in part on the public’s feedback, as well as each proposed design’s ability to meet the evaluation criteria and technical requirements identified by the City.

Read the full Jury Report.

Over the next two years, the proposed design will be refined into a final detailed design. Additional opportunities for public engagement, including selecting a permanent name for the new park, will occur in advance of construction.

A rendering of the park, named Wàwàtesí, in fall. The image is a birds-eye view looking down into the park from Richmond Street. The image shows night-time illuminations and groves of birch trees. From top left to bottom right, an elevated walkway named the ‘Canvas’, water point named ‘The Source’, and central lawn named ‘The Green’ can be seen. In the corner, fireflies from Wàwàtesí’s firefly habitat are glowing.
A bird’s eye view of Wàwàtesí looking south.

Wàwàtesí is a park with a night life and a winter attitude, who is not afraid to share silenced stories and urgent agendas. In a place where skyscrapers have eaten up the city, Wàwàtesí becomes the compass, lighting the trail to renewal and transformation. She is the boutique and alternative backstage platform of Toronto’s Downtown Arts district: an authentic place for people of all walks of life to discover unique integrated experiences of landscape, light, and performance. Wàwàtesí will be Toronto’s first park with a curator and her own tailored calendar of arts events and installations. This is a place where traditional myths are given contemporary mediums.

Wàwàtesí (Anishinaabemowin: firefly) symbolizes the cycle of life, healing, and the passage of time. Along with the creek that used to cross the site who was buried by Toronto’s rapid urbanization, fireflies have all but disappeared from the urban landscape. Her name calls attention to the power of the unseen and supernatural.

Wàwàtesí invites you to enter a multi-level journey through the woodlands from each of the four directions, as actor and audience in the theatre of life. A stream-like trail leads you along seven stepping stones with different experiential qualities. The Eastern Gateway – humane laneway and park welcome, The Balcony – place to watch and perform, The Riverbed Playscape – with hammocks and slide, The Grove – for fireflies, The Green – to gather, The Source – of water and light, and The Canvas – for light. Her seasonally shape-shifting art piece Aki Illuminations (Anishinaabemowin: Earth Illuminations) celebrates solstice, equinox, and transformation.

Aerial view of proposed park layout, aligned North in the top and South at the bottom. From top left to bottom right, the image shows the connection with Richmond Street, the groves of birch trees, the central lush green lawn that is edged with white paving slabs, the water access point named ‘The Source’, the elevated walkway named ‘The Canvas’, and five trees along the edge of Nelson Street.
A plan of Wàwàtesí.
  1. Richmond Street improvements
  2. Nelson Street improvements
  3. Area for Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) screen
  1. The eastern gateway
  2. The balcony – an elevated platform from which to watch and perform
  3. The riverbed playscape
  4. The grove of birch trees
  5. The green – a lawn
  6. The source – a public washroom
  7. The canvas – the balcony’s underbelly, a canvas for projected art and ongoing curation by Native Art Department International
An artistic rendering of Wàwàtesí at night. The image is positioned at eye-level, looking north into the park from Nelson Street. The view shows a variety of urban activity to represent the diversity of culture and subculture in Toronto. The elevated walkway named the ‘Canvas’ is highlighted by the park’s permanent art installation, Aki Illuminations (Aki meaning “Earth” in Anishinaabemowin).
A view from Nelson Street looking north at the Canvas, showing NADI’s Aki Illuminations art piece.
Cut-through section of the park, aligned North-South and looking West. The image shows the soil conditions below the ground and groves of grey and yellow birch trees. The image highlights Wàwàtesí’s sustainability components. From left to right, they are: bioretention planters and green stormwater infrastructure on Nelson street; low walls designed to be used as benches made from reclaimed and repurposed building demolition waste; the firefly habitat, a natural planting area within the groves of trees; groves of grey and yellow birch trees planted when very young to encourage natural forest-like health; the Canvas and Balcony structure made of low-carbon concrete; the rocky fern garden and its biodiversity elements; the Riverbed Playscape’s recycled-steel slide; salvaged boulders from quarry waste; healthy root systems from the groves’ planting techniques; healthy soil with mycelium (mushroom roots) and probiotic activity; concrete pavers made from carbon-negative concrete; and low-maintenance native plants beneath the birch groves.
A cross-section view of the proposed design’s sustainability features.
  1. Nelson Street
  2. Richmond Street
  1. Bioswale Planters (Green Stormwater Infrastructure)
  2. Seating Edges from Salvaged Concrete
  3. Native Cedar Accent Tree
  4. Natural Firefly Habitat
  5. Balcony Structure from Low-Carbon Concrete
  6. Fern Garden with Native & Novel Habitat for Insects
  7. Recycled Steel Slide
  8. Salvaged Boulders from Quarry Waste
  9. Dense Root Systems: Birch groves planted as small trees and grow up together
  10. Restored soil with healthy mycelium network and probiotic activity
  11. Mycelium path made from carbon-negative concrete unit pavers
  12. Native understory planting attracts pollinators, birds, and small mammals
A diagram showing the Seven Stepping Stones concept and Indigenous teaching that inspired the layout of Wàwàtesí. At the center of the image is a purple river with seven stepping stones in it. They are, in order: first, the Eastern Gateway, an entry portal through the historic Laneways; second, the Balcony, a gently elevated pathway bridging over the park; third, the Riverbed Playscape, a rugged playground in a natural rocky setting; fourth, the Canvas, the underbelly of the Balcony and the primary projection surface for Aki Illuminations and other public art; fifth, the Wave, a curved sitting area that comes out of the park’s path; sixth, the Green, the park’s central lawn and gathering space; and seventh, the Source, the park’s washrooms which double as glowing lanterns, a public power source, and a source of free access to water.
Wàwàtesí Indigenous Placekeeping – the Journey of the Seven Stepping Stones
  1. The Eastern Gateway
  2. The Balcony
  3. The Riverbed Playscape
  4. The Canvas
  5. The Grove
  6. The Green
  7. The Source

In Wàwàtesí, a stream-like trail leads you along seven stepping stones corresponding to different park program elements, each with their own experiential quality.

The path and its winding through the changing experiences, seasons, and sounds of an urban park area metaphor for life: constantly in transformation, whether it be through the colour of the trees or the sounds of children or decay of leaves.

In the tradition of landscape architecture, parks and gardens are illusions of reality. The changing of seasons; the cycles of life. The teaching of the Seven Stepping Stones shared with us by elder Shelley Charles (Mandawke) brings depth and layers to outdoor public culture.

The teaching shares the story of people who have lost their way and in need of guidance. The searchers look along the water for seven stepping stones to help find their way back to the trail where there is food, water, and community. While this teaching refers to a specific sacred place, when applied to Wàwàtesí, it teaches us to never go too far off the path without coming together as humans. This teaching also reminds us of the power of water to shape, even where water is unseen.

Between January and September 2023, the City held a two-stage design competition for the design of the new park at 229 Richmond St. W.

The two-stage design competition was open to design teams, including international talent, and had to include a Landscape Architect in good standing with the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects. The first stage of the competition was a Request for Supplier Qualifications (RFSQ). The applicants were evaluated by an evaluation committee based on their qualifications, work experience, and approach to the park site.

The five highest-rated teams were shortlisted and invited to participate in Stage Two of the competition. These teams were:

  • DTAH Architects, Paul Raff Studio, Trophic Design
  • O2 Planning and Design and OLIN Studio, Omar Gandhi Architects, Michel De Broin, Re:imagine Gathering
  • PMA Landscape Architects and SLA, Gow Hastings Architects, Ned Kahn Studio, Tàmmaro Art/Design, Ridge Road Training and Consulting
  • Public City Architecture, Sook Yin-Lee, Seán Carson Kinsella
  • West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, hcma Architecture and Design, Native Art Department International, MinoKamik Collective

In the second stage of the competition, the shortlisted applicants responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) and submitted conceptual designs for the new park. Applicants presented their design ideas to the Design Jury made up of experts in landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, art, curation, climate resilience and Indigenous design.

Timeline

  • January 31 to March 23, 2023: Design Competition Stage One – Request For Supplier Qualification (RFSQ)
  • June 2023: Shortlisted design teams announced
  • Late Spring 2023: Design Competition Stage Two opens – Request For Proposal (RFP)
  • Late Summer 2023: Design Competition Stage Two closes (RFP)
  • Fall 2023: Public engagement and Jury deliberation
  • Winter 2023: Design team awarded project

Eligibility

The two-stage design competition was open to design teams, including international talent. Each team was led by a Landscape Architect in good standing with the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects. The teams also included:

  1. An architect/architectural firm that is a full member in good standing with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA). If the architect was registered in another jurisdiction and does not have OAA registration, a sub-consultant with this requirement must be on the team.
  2. A professional artist or artist team.
  3. An Indigenous design partner with experience or expertise in Indigenous placekeeping. This person could also fulfill other roles on the team, such as the artist, architect or landscape architect, but should have specific expertise in Indigenous placekeeping.

Stage One: Request for Supplier Qualifications (RFSQ)

In this stage, the City collected applications from eligible design teams. The applicants were evaluated based on their qualifications, work experience, and approach to the park site.

Stage One RFSQ submissions were reviewed by an Evaluation Committee made up of City Staff and the Professional Advisor to the Design Competition. The five highest-rated teams will be shortlisted and invited to participate in Stage Two. Each shortlisted team received an honorarium of $10,000.

The application submission deadline closed on March 23, 2023 at 12 p.m. EST.

Stage Two: Request for Proposal (RFP)

In this stage, the shortlisted applicants submitted conceptual designs for the new park. The applicants received a competition brief in the form of a Request for Proposals (RFP), which outlined the submission requirements and provided additional material required to develop the designs. This stage included an orientation session and a site tour.

The shortlisted applicants presented their design ideas to the Design Jury. The design ideas were also shared on this page.  A Professional Advisor collected and summarized all feedback on the design ideas from the Community Advisory Group, the Park Steering Committee, and the community. The feedback will inform the Design Jury’s recommendation.

The design competition was judged by a Jury of experts in landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, art, curation, climate resilience and Indigenous design. Adjudication took place in November 2023. The Jury was:

  • Fadi Masoud, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Landscape Research at University of Toronto John H Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
  • Jennifer Nagai, Partner at PFS Studio and Landscape Architect
  • Nancy Prince, Chief of Landscape Architecture, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) and Landscape Architect
  • Ryan Rice, Executive Director and Curator, Indigenous Art at Onsite Gallery.
  • Tim Scott, Architect and retired Principal at Forrec Architects Limited and Natale and Scott Architects

Shortlisted Designs

The following designs were shortlisted and considered by the jury but were ultimately not selected.

Public City Architecture, Sook Yin-Lee, Seán Carson Kinsella

Evening birds eye view of Waasamoo-mitigoog / Electric Forest looking southeast toward Nelson Street.
A rendering of the new park at night taken from Richmond Street showing trees and the "Electric Forest" art pieces throughout.

Plan view of proposed Electric Forest design for the new park, with numbered labels indicating the location of the features and amenities.

  1. Neon park signs
  2. Open tree sculptures with LED lighting
  3. Mister station and raised deck
  4. Public washroom pavilion
  5. Ceremonial fire pit
  6. Mounded planting beds with native tree species and understory planting
  7. Bike racks (pavilion has additional bicycle parking)
  8. Stormwater infiltration areas
  9. Street/lane raised to sidewalk level, bollard separation
  10. Existing historic building
  11. Future development
  12. Former MuchMusic building
  13. Commercial patio
  14. Video projector
  15. Laneway leading to Duncan Street
  16. Pedestrian connection to John Street
  17. Raised seating deck
  18. Logs, stumps and movable tables and chairs in pocket gathering areas
  19. Cast-in-place concrete paving
  20. Permeable reclaimed stone paving
  21. Painted, recycled asphalt paving
  22. Compacted crushed granite surface
  23. Vehicle ramp
  24. Maintenance access
  25. Park property line
  26. Recycling/garbage bins
  27. Street lighting
  28. Colour-changing LED light fixtures, typical
  29. Tree sculpture with mesh infill and LED lighting
About the Design

This is the Electric Forest. In Anishinaabemowin, Waasamoo-mitigoog means electric forest/trees. Throughout the design, our Indigenous Placekeeper led us through teachings about the history of pine and cedar and their importance to this land and its people. The Eastern White Cedar has medicinal and spiritual significance, symbolizing strength and resilience. The Eastern White Pine has deep connections to Treaty 13 and is known in Haudenosaunee as “the tree of peace”. The park’s dominant curvaceous forms take their cues from these trees.

The name also alludes to Electric Circus, the unscripted and kinetically vibrant MuchMusic show. MuchMusic, the Canadian institution that sparked energy and defined a spirit of belonging and open-minded culture-making in this neighbourhood for decades, was a generation’s natural cultural lab. As the park’s name conjures up the spirit of curiosity and experimentation that was MuchMusic, it integrates this with a powerful meditation about land and regeneration. The park is to be a place electrified by charged histories and the regenerative power – mentally, psychologically, and ecologically – of a forest.

If this proposal is about regenerating living environments, it also strives to do so playfully and without austerity. Joy, contemplation, awe, and delight are foremost in our mind.  A little bit nature; a little bit culture; and every bit wild, this park is designed as an energy source in the city. With the power of the ancestral forests and the vibrancy of MuchMusic all but turned off from the Queen and John neighbourhood, Waasamoo-mitigoog/Electric Forest is a playful reignition of a public place in our city.

PMA Landscape Architects and SLA, Gow Hastings Architects, Ned Kahn Studio, Tàmmaro Art/Design, Ridge Road Training and Consulting

A bird's eye view of the new park showing the central circular art in the middle, with curved pathways connecting the north and south side of the park.
The proposed art for the new park shown at night, which illustrates a circular structure in blue.

Plan view of the proposed design for the new park, with numbered labels indicating the location of the features and amenities.

  1. Event lawn
  2. Seating steps
  3. Rain garden
  4. Seating edge in terrain
  5. Flex space for events
  6. Aqueous veil (name of proposed art)
  7. Amphitheatre
  8. Woodland wall
  9. Picnic tables
  10. Outdoor seating
  11. Bicycle parking
  12. Washroom entrance
  13. Future laneway connection
  14. Path
About the Design

oneSky Park/Bezhig Giizhig (in Anishinaabe) – “we all see it there, one sky.”

The new park at 229 Richmond St. W. faces the challenge of creating a park amidst a rapidly changing area. Situated in a mid-block of downtown, it is close to bustling streets and major attractions, yet surrounded by a neighbourhood undergoing substantial transformation.

While these changes are anticipated in a thriving city, they pose day-to-day difficulties for community members seeking an engaging outdoor environment connected to nature. In this dynamic setting, how can equilibrium be established? Where is the common ground that unites us?

The sky provides a universal connection. We all share the same celestial view, experiencing the same moon, sun, and stars. The sky is a constant presence, regardless of alterations in our tangible surroundings, symbolizing our shared human experience.

oneSKY embodies these collective insights: encompassing land and sky, water and wind, with clarity and purpose. It serves as a beacon of unity and harmony in a changing urban landscape.

The vision for this urban transformation is to seamlessly blend nature with urban living and use all the great qualities that the site contains today.

The three key goals of our oneSKY vision is to:

  • Introduce a New Nature Experience
  • Maintain the Vibrant Civic Identity
  • Create an Important Link

Our park design proposal aims to breathe new life into an old parking lot, ensuring that it not only becomes a lush park but is also future-proofed for generations to come.

DTAH Architects, Paul Raff Studio, Trophic Design

Rendering of the proposed design looking south from Richmond Street.
Rendering of the proposed design looking Southwest from the central garden.
Plan view of proposed design for 229 Richmond Street West. It includes the Open Hand sculpture in the center with a central planting area, planted landforms, seating, in ground misters, permeable pavers, water fountain and bike racks.
Site Plan for Nookomis Garden, by DTAH
  1.  Planted landform
  2. Sculptural form/open hand
  3. Central planting area/stormwater collection
  4. Movable seating
  5. Pavilion building with green roof
  6. Wood platform/seating
  7. Bench
  8. Inground misters
  9. Service lane
  10. Laneway with catenary lights
  11. Drinking fountain
  12. Bicycle parking
About the Design

Imagine a lush verdant garden in the heart of the city. Imagine it is nestled within a large, sculpted landform – an open palm sculpted in stone. The hand symbolizes the animism of the earth. In cradling the garden, it guides us to care for nature.

It is called Nookomis for this sense of caring guidance. In some Anishnaabe origin stories Nookomis fell from the moon to the earth and gave birth to the mother of the Anishnaabe people. Also associated with the moon, Nookomis is connected to all life on earth, and her gentle hand has long guided the Anishnaabe people in the cycles of life including planting, harvesting, hunting, gathering and ceremony.

Nookomis literally translates as “my grandmother.” The teachings of our grandparents occupy a privileged place in society.

Nookomis Garden is a physical manifestation of the gifts we are offered by the natural world – the stone of the earth, the waters, the soil and the plants that nourish us. Cradled within the hand, these features come together into a lush, dense forest planting. The surrounding mounds carry plantings found within the oak woodland native to these lands.

Nookomis Garden is meant as a meditation on “how to live the good life.” It is a place connected to its surroundings and accommodating of larger crowds, while offering opportunities for quiet contemplation in nature. It is a place for gathering, sharing stories, and honouring the gifts offered by the natural world.

O2 Planning and Design and OLIN Studio, Omar Gandhi Architects, Michel De Broin, Re:imagine Gathering and Tiffany Shaw

View from Richmond Street, looking south. The corners of the park provide a welcoming moment from Richmond St, while an elongated granite bench defines the north corner of the space, and the lawn that raises behind it, providing ample seating along the edge for passers-by or for people to meet.
A tall flowing sculpture marks the southeast gateway of River Park. Visitors head toward the central space, admiring the sculpture. Others are seated in the vibrant, yellow patio furniture in between large trees with lush planting and the adjacent tall building.

Rendered top of River Park with Richmond Street West to the north and Nelson Street to the South. A large pavilion in the southwest of the site is the washroom pavilion, while the smaller pavilion located in east of the site is the trellis structure surrounded by trees. Additional trees and vegetation wrap around the edges of the site. The surface of the park is made of a granite and concrete pavers of varying sizes and a wood decking that encircles the central space.

  1. Creek
  2. Flexible Lawn
  3. Amphitheatre
  4. Art Sculpture
  5. Outdoor café
  6. Seat wall
  7. Rain gardens
  8. Wooden boardwalk
  9. Flexible seating
  10. Laneway
  11. Mid-block connection to John Street
About the Design

Narratives are powerful tools that shape memory, influence values, and drive behaviour. River Park is centred around reimagining the narrative of urban parks to transform relationships between people and nature in a time when such a shift is urgently needed. The park restores the connection between the city and its natural water systems, paying homage to a lost creek, paved over in the 19th century. The design is guided by three core gestures: tracing the path of the river, lifting the edges to create banks, and connecting the city along the edges. The river, flowing through the park, serves as both a subtle topographic change and an ephemeral water feature, emphasizing the importance of water in the urban landscape. The edges offer spaces for daily life and events, including a pavilion, canopy, stage, and a tilted lawn. Tree-lined corridors connect the park to the city, drawing in adjacent activities and reflecting the character of surrounding buildings. The spectacular sculpture, Resurgences, creates a magnificent and startling gateway off Richmond Street as a monument to the city’s lost rivers.

In proposing the name River Park, we seek to shift the narrative surrounding our relationship with nature and each other. This naming process presents an opportunity to connect with the generational history of this area and its evolution, learn about the building practices and decisions that have led to the present, and instill an optimistic view of the future. We envision River Park as a place for reflection, storytelling, and cultural exchange, fostering inclusivity and equity.

Community Advisory Committee

This project has a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of representatives of the Spadina-Fort York area. The CAC’s mandate is to provide a forum for feedback, guidance and advice to the project team at key decision points during the community engagement process. The CAC will meet approximately three times during Community Engagement Phase 3. The CAC is not a decision-making body and does not speak on behalf of the entire community.

Indigenous Advisory Circle

This project has an Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC) made up of representatives of the city’s Urban Indigenous population. The IAC’s goal is to inform Indigenous Placemaking opportunities and provide feedback and guidance on the overall design for the new park. The IAC will meet three times during Community Engagement Phase 3. The IAC is not a decision-making body and does not speak on behalf of the entire Spadina-Fort York community or the city’s Urban Indigenous population.

Objectives

  1. Collect community feedback, co-develop a project vision and establish design goals.
  2. Inform project committees of the design competition and consultant selection process, and collect feedback and insights.
  3. Confirm the project vision and design goals.

Park Goals

The park goals were developed in this phase of the community engagement process using the outcomes of a visioning survey that engaged over 3,000 participants, Community Advisory Group feedback and an internal City stakeholder group meeting. The park goals will guide the park design development.

A place of culture

The park’s location in the heart of the Entertainment District should provide inspiration for the program and design. The design should reflect and enhance the neighbourhood’s cultural scenes by providing flexible spaces that can support cultural programming. During design development, the design team will continue to consult with the local arts community to determine future programming needs.

A reflection of the neighbourhood

The park should be responsive to the adjacent urban context and should draw on the rich cultural and built heritage of the neighbourhood, including the area’s manufacturing history and days as a hub of youth and club culture.

A green oasis

The park should be an oasis and a peaceful green “backyard” for the many downtown residents.

Indigenous placekeeping

As part of the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan, the park design should incorporate Indigenous knowledge, world views and language(s). The park program should be responsive to the needs of urban Indigenous people for safe places to engage in ceremony, gather and heal. Indigenous people must be included on the design team.

Integrated public art

Innovation and artistry should inform the design holistically. A public artist or collective must be included on the design team.

Design excellence

Provide a high standard of design excellence, quality of place and attention to detail. High-quality durable materials, innovative technologies and design excellence should be combined with careful attention to the City’s operating parameters.

New standards for sustainability

The park should set new standards for sustainability in park design and operations by using the lens of net-zero, climate resilience and material life-cycle analysis at all stages of the design. This park should strive to reach the City’s goal of net zero by 2040.

A diverse community of users

Toronto has one of the most diverse urban populations in the world and the park should support social activities for a wide range of people, groups and civic organizations, including unhoused people. The Entertainment District is a mixed-use neighbourhood, where increasing numbers of residents live among offices, entertainment venues, retail and dining.

Community Engagement Meetings and Events

September 2023

Indigenous Advisory Circle Application

From September 18 to September 27, 2023, those who identify as Indigenous to Canada could apply to become a member of the Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC). IAC members will inform the development of the winning design for the new park, which will be selected by a jury comprised of industry leaders, including an Indigenous artist and curator.

Park Goals Identified

Eight park goals were developed using the outcomes of the feedback collected during this phase of the community engagement process.

January 2023

Community Advisory Group Meeting 2

On January 9, 2023, the Community Advisory Group (CAG) had their second meeting.

November 2022

Online Thought Exchange Activity

From September 28 to November 4, 2022, the community shared their vision and ideas for the new park and rated the ideas of others in a thought exchange activity. The activity had 3,303 participants, 1,968 thoughts shared and 50,557 ratings.

Download the summary report.

Community Advisory Group Meeting 1

On November 15, 2022, the Community Advisory Group (CAG) had their first meeting. The CAG is comprised of local community organizations and businesses with unique perspectives from years of experience in the King-Spadina community. The CAG will act as an advisory body through the design competition and park design process.

In this phase of the community engagement process, the City will collect community feedback on the shortlisted designs from the two-phase design competition. At the end of this phase, the City will hire a design team.

Download the survey summary.

Objectives

  1. Present five shortlisted designs and collect high-level feedback (including preferences).
  2. Summarize community feedback and provide it to the Design Jury.

In this phase of the community engagement process, the City will present the winning design in a series of engagement events to inform the development of a detailed design. The final design will be presented to the community for feedback and revisions.

Objectives

  1. Present and collect feedback on the winning design as it is developed into detailed design.
  2. Set the design direction for the detailed design phase.
  3. Share the detailed design online.

The site was secured as parkland in 2019 through a transaction involving CreateTO and multiple City Divisions. The transaction resulted in:

  • A new development at 260 Adelaide St. W, which will include affordable housing and an indoor community space
  • A new Emergency Medical Services station at Metro Hall (55 John St.)
  • The purchase of the site at 229 Richmond St. W for the future park, which represents one of the City’s most significant park acquisitions in downtown in recent decades

Downtown Toronto has one of the lowest parkland provision rates in the city at 5.5m2 per resident (based on the 2016 census) and 1.8m2 per resident and employee. The city-wide average is 28m2 per resident and 18m2 per resident and employee respectively. Nearly 16,000 people live within a 0.5km radius of the new park site, and 52,000 more come to work in this area. This project will create much-needed parkland in a rapidly growing neighbourhood.

A design and construction budget of $10 million has been secured for this project. The new park will be referred to by its location until it is officially named. The park naming process is separate from the park design process.

Park Location

The future park is located between Richmond Street West to the north and Nelson Street to the south. West of the new park is the future site of a high-rise residential and commercial development at 241 Richmond St. W and 133 John St. with construction starting in 2024. East of the new park are two commercial heritage buildings at 221 Richmond St. W and 30 Duncan St. The site was used as a surface parking lot since the early 1980s. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was leased to local restaurants for summer patio use.

An aerial map showing the location of the new park at 229 Richmond Street West, circled in red. The park shape is rectangular in size and boarders Richmond Street West, with a connection to Duncan Street to the east and Nelson Street to the south.

History

The park site is part of the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District (HCD), which is an evolved historic district, with a concentration of late-19th and early-20th century residential and commercial buildings, three historic parks and a network of laneways. These historic resources reflect the District’s evolution from an institutional and residential neighbourhood to a warehouse and manufacturing area over the course of the 1880s to 1940s. For the first half of the 20th century, the District was Toronto’s primary manufacturing and warehouse area. After World War II, many industries left the downtown core and relocated to suburban locations.

Subsequent waves of development in the mid to late 20th century saw the regeneration of the District through the adaptive reuse of residential and commercial buildings for a variety of uses. In the 1980s to early 2000s, the area was a mecca for youth culture, as the empty industrial buildings were repurposed as nightclubs and bars. In the last 20 years, a boom of condominiums has transformed the area, creating a mixed-use neighbourhood with offices, bars, restaurants, cultural venues and high-rise residential buildings.