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How You Can Get Involved in Project: Under Gardiner

Dec 2, 2015

A vision of a grand staircase from Strachan Avenue.

This new public space initiative will transform the space under an expressway. Here’s how you can help.

By Christopher McKinnon

Last week, we announced an exciting new initiative, temporarily named Project: Under Gardiner. It will see a 1.75-kilometre stretch of unused land beneath the Gardiner Expressway, from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue, completely re-imagined as a place for people.

Maybe you’ve seen the trailer?

The trailer for Project: Under Gardiner is by Bespoke in collaboration with Mattru Media.

The project is the brainchild of philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews, who have previously played a role in creating the Toronto Music Garden and revitalizing St. George Street through the University of Toronto campus. The Matthews worked with urban designer Ken Greenberg and landscape architecture studio PUBLIC WORK to present the City of Toronto with a framework plan for the project. The Matthews also stepped up with a $25 million donation to fund the project and asked that Waterfront Toronto implement the plan – including overseeing the design, public consultation and construction – with an aggressive target of completing the first phase in 2017.

What’s proposed?

  • 1.75 kilometres of new multi-use trail that creates a new east-west corridor from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue that will help to connect from the CNE to the CN Tower
  • 55 unique outdoor spaces, dubbed urban “rooms,” flexible enough for a wide range of community programs and activities, from farmer’s markets to chamber concerts, dance competitions to experimental theatre, street art festivals to kids’ camps and more
  • A grand staircase at Strachan Avenue that will double as seating for an urban theatre space
  • Integration with the landscape master plan currently being implemented for the Fort York National Historic Site’s 43 acres
  • An iconic crossing over Fort York Boulevard for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Connections to new and existing public spaces at the Fort York Visitor Centre, as well as Privately Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces (POPS) that already exist under the Gardiner Expressway

Are you excited? Want to get involved? Here are three ways that you can join Project: Under Gardiner.

Help Name this New Public Space

This project is all about reclaiming public space for people, so it’s only fitting that the public should have a hand in naming it. Later this month we’ll kick off a campaign to give this uniquely Toronto project an equally unique name. Sign up here and we’ll send an email when the campaign launches. (We’ll also let you know about upcoming public meetings and opportunities to participate online.)

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Join the Conversation on Twitter

Share an idea or a picture. Ask a question. Tell us what you’d like to see Project: Under Gardiner become. Plenty of Torontonians are already engaged, so join the conversation. We want to hear from you!


Apply to Join the Project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee

Subject to City Council’s approval of the donation and the project, we’ll be assembling a Stakeholder Advisory Committee for Project: Under Gardiner. The committee will play an important role in the public consultation process by providing feedback, guidance and advice to the project team at key points during the design and implementation of the project. A selection committee will review all the submissions and select up to five people to act as community-at-large representatives. We are specifically looking for representatives who are involved in heritage and culture, as well as individuals with experience advocating for active transportation (walking and cycling), accessibility, and recreational uses. In total, the committee will be composed of about forty representatives of the local residents, businesses and advocacy groups.

To learn more about the time commitment involved and how you can submit your interest, check out our Call for Submissions [PDF].

Learn more about Waterfront Toronto’s approach to Public Consultation.


post contributor

  • Christopher McKinnon

    Christopher McKinnon was previously a communications and public engagement Manager at Waterfront Toronto. He’s passionate about art, cycling in the city, public transit and building really amazing parks.