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How Love Park Came to Be

May 10, 2021

Rendering of a busy Love ParkOnce complete, Love Park will provide several areas to lounge, walk and play.   

By: Katie Andrachuk

With construction on Love Park (currently York Street Park) starting in the coming weeks, we’re taking a look back at the multi-stage design and consultation process that has led to the final design for the highly anticipated new public space. 

In February 2018, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation launched a six-week long international design competition to produce a bold and innovative park design for York Street Park (as well as Rees Street Park). Located in Toronto’s Central Waterfront, York Street Park will be the newest addition to Toronto’s growing collection of beautiful parks that serve the diverse needs of local residents, office workers, and visitors in the busy waterfront district.  

More than 40 international design teams from 18 cities world-wide submitted proposals during the pre-qualification stage of the competition. Of these, 5 design teams were shortlisted to submit a design for York Street Park. 

We believe that effective and early public engagement is key to a decision-making process that serves the public. To meaningfully involve the public at each stage of the park’s development, Waterfront Toronto created a series of consultation and engagement opportunities to evaluate and inform key decisions in the development process. 

In the initial stage, these consultation and engagement opportunities provided feedback that directly informed the Competition Design Brief for York Street Park. This input shaped the park design brief to ensure that the needs and desires of park users were entrenched in the development process from its inception. 

At the end of the intensive six-week design competition, all ten shortlisted teams had their final design proposals put on public exhibition at Toronto City Hall and online for a two-week public comment period. Torontonians had the opportunity to review the designs and provide feedback to the competition jury. 

Rendering of Love Park in the fallOne requirement outlined in the Design Brief was that the park should feature a space that is green and peaceful. The design for Love Park features a variety of hardy, tolerant species that will withstand heavy usage. 

In total, we recorded feedback from 1,976 individuals from Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area on the York Street Park design proposals alone. Following the public feedback period, public comments were summarized in a Public Feedback Report that was delivered to the competition jury for consideration, along with reports from the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee. 

Love Park by Claude Cormier et Associés was unanimously selected by the independent jury because it successfully responds to the need for flexible public space in the southern Financial District and Harbourfront neighbourhood. The selection strongly responds to the public’s desire to introduce a lush green space where visitors, neighbours and colleagues can enjoy a peaceful leafy atmosphere together. We also discovered a common desire for relief from concrete and hard surfaces along the waterfront. 

Rendering of Love Park with the Trellis Vine planting in the backgroundLove Park will feature a Trellis Vine planting that will serve as a natural shade for visitors to the park. 

In 2019, a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) was established for the design development phase of the park. The SAC, comprised of community representatives, provided feedback to the project team at key points in the design development process. 

On January 16, 2020, Waterfront Toronto, alongside the City of Toronto and Claude Cormier + Associés, presented an update of the competition design for Love Park (York Street Park) during a Public Information Centre.  

Now, after several stages of design review and updates, the park has reached 100% design and construction is slated to begin this spring. A Construction Liaison Committee (CLC) for the park is being formed in advance of work beginning on site. The CLC will be comprised of community stakeholders to provide feedback on construction related impacts. 

Get a glimpse of the final park design and how it came to be in this blog.