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cityscape

“Derelict” Underpass to Be Transformed Into Bright, Shiny Park

Underpass Park is step one in a wider revitalization of the less-than-beautiful West Don Lands area.


Once a shabby, forgotten corner of the city, the area under and around the Eastern Avenue, Richmond, and Adelaide overpasses is now undergoing a major revitalization.

Although Underpass Park hasn’t officially opened, Waterfront Toronto has confirmed that the two eastern-most sections are almost complete and will become available to riled-up kids and harried parents alike later this summer. The park will feature a skateboard park and half courts, a community gathering area, and a play area featuring unique jungle gym equipment. A piece of suspended public art by local artist Paul Raff is also set to be installed within the next month (it will be reflective, to attract what light is available).

The final section by St. Lawrence Street, a green space, will be unveiled in September.

Waterfront Toronto’s Meg Davis admits that the area under the overpasses were considered “derelict” and were not originally part of the organization’s West Don Lands revitalization project. But when a developer submitted a plan for the space, the wheels started turning.

With new affordable housing going in just north of Underpass Park—and 50 per cent of those residents expected to be families with young children—Davis said that the park will serve the new neighborhood well.

“Wouldn’t it be great on a rainy day your kids are driving you crazy…you can go to Underpass Park and play on the playscape and be weather protected and the kids can get activity and get out of your hair, so to speak,” said Davis.

Diane MacLean of the Regent Park Community Health Centre agrees that Underpass Park will be a welcome part of the redevelopment of the wider area, including the West Don Lands and Regent Park.

“[The area is] undergoing a true revitalization, physical, as well as how you create social cohesion–gatherings, how people come together,” said MacLean. “One thing that I think is great about Underpass Park is that for space that is considered unusable for a long time…it’s going to bring a whole opportunity for people to find new ways to come together.”

MacLean hopes that by injecting life into the underpasses, a sense of safety and ownership will be restored. She would also like to see Underpass Park become part of a Discovery Walk that would further connect Regent Park with the wider community.

It appears at least that the project is unaffected by the political circus that the Port Lands inspired last summer and the “accelerated” plan for development there. “The City, the feds, and the province are all cooperating with us nicely on this project, on the West Don Lands and on Underpass Park,” said Davis.

Underpass Park will officially open in July.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    I hope they paint the underbelly some bright bright colour and light it other wise it’s still going to look like crap.

    • Anonymous

      This is how to light up underpasses: http://g.co/maps/2fqex

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, something like that.

        Some sections of mirrors would be cool too.
        Or just polished metal that’s super reflective.

  • Ben Wolfe

    Would you bring your children to play under an underpass? Seriously.

    • Anonymous

      Kids love playing under shit.

    • John Duncan

      It’s a big, open space, and cars aren’t actually getting on the overpass in the area, so it’s probably not quite what you’re picturing.

  • Alice_and_hatter

    Won’t be long before it’s covered in graffiti, weeds, dirt and trash. And can they please spell “neighbourhood” correctly!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=28110435 Kate Roberts

      A way to combat that would be to have arts funded programs such as ‘Art Starts’ come in and create graffiti murals – when there’s an actual mural, people are less inclined to tag over it. (Of course there are plenty of jerks out there) Unfortunately programs like these have lost all of, if not most of their funding thanks to RoFo’s “Clean Up Toronto” campaign which has focused on their flashy, pointless app that has the city come white wash over graffiti at owners expense.

  • http://bart.whahay.net Bartek

    I was skeptical about this when it was first announced but it’s growing on me. Just another creative usage of an otherwise boring space. Think sad and dark laneways turned into mini markets filled w/ greenery. Like!

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a bad attempt. New York has several playgrounds and sport courts underneath highway viaducts; it can work. And the equipment (looks to be Kompan) is top-notch. Time will tell…

  • Guest

    can wait to sell coke there.