Parkland Gems Naturalizing – Naturalizing the Waterfront
Parkland Gems Naturalizing
Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common,two new lake side parks east of Jarvis Street,give us a hint of what Toronto’s revitalized waterfront will be. They are gems of city and nature weaving together and creating a “water play” for all ages.
Live & Play
Sugar Beach is largely artifice. But it provides a delightful beach experience where sunbathers can watch cargo ships unload in an active port. The Redpath Sugar factory sits across the water of Jarvis Street Slip. It’s a constantly changing hub of docking and unloading bulk sugar and molasses for processing and distribution. Beach-goers can also watch pleasure craft,ferries and sea birds flitting across Toronto Harbour.
Work & Learn
Strolling east along a generous waterside promenade, we pass the activity hubs at Corus Quay and the George Brown College Centre for Health Sciences. These new buildings bring people to the water’s edge to work and learn, not only to live and play. They will help to make the East Bayfront, as this area has been named, a complete community, not just a bedroom hub.
It will truly blend diverse communities, as we expect, in one of the world’s most diverse cities.
Gems on the Edge
Next going east, we come to Sherbourne Common, a very uncommon park in spite of its name. There’s a pavilion and water play area that transforms to an outdoor skating rink in winter. But the water features in the park, both south and north of Queen’s Quay, particularly draw the eye. These beautifully designed features cleanse stormwater runoff from asphalt surfaces of the area and return it pure to the lake.
The Urban Edge Meets Water and Nature
Runoff will be directed to an underground ultraviolet treatment tank, below the pavilion, that mimics the sun’s cleansing effect on water. Then the water is pumped through the artistic fountains called “Light Showers”, by Jill Anholt, that sprinkle the water into a channel of biofiltration beds. Here the water is further purified by wetland plant action before it is discharged back to the lake.
It’s a very beautiful, very civilized way to integrate natural functions back into the urban landscape. And it’s just the beginning. As the waterfront continues to change, great swaths of land to the east will also undergo naturalization
Looking east at the water’s edge, there are more port activities,including docked shipping vessels, that capture the eye. This will become the centrepiece of the waterfront – the naturalized mouth of the Don River. Now the river is not recognizable. It flows in a concrete channel under a bridge on Cherry Street. But the visionary Lower Don Lands plan developed by Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and Toronto & Region Conservation will change that.