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Help Give Project: Under Gardiner a Permanent Name

Mar 10, 2016

Image description: Looking through the the columns supporting the Gardiner Expressway, there is an active construction site in the background. Block text reads "Let's Reclaim This Space Together."

Our city is ready for a new story about the Gardiner Expressway – one filled with hope and possibility. That’s why we need your help to #ReclaimTheName.

By Christopher McKinnon

Last week, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto launched #ReclaimTheName – a campaign that invites Torontonians to help come up with a permanent name for the space that will be transformed by Project: Under Gardiner. The project is reclaiming ten acres of forgotten space beneath the Gardiner Expressway, from just west of Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue. The vision includes a continuous multi-use trail, an iconic new crossing at Fort York Boulevard for pedestrians and cyclists, a grand staircase at Strachan that will double as seating for an urban theatre, and a series of flexible year round performance and programming spaces for use by the community.

In short, we’d like to change the way that we, as Torontonians, think about public space in our city. Increasingly, we must get creative to squeeze more out of our dense urban neighbourhoods. Forgotten spaces along rail and hydro corridors, like the Green Line; the laneways and alleyways of our downtown neighbourhoods, as seen through the Laneway Project; and even the unkempt spaces beneath an urban expressway – these are the surprising places where we can reclaim space for community, recreation, culture and art.

Click to download our DIY Naming ToolkitThe #ReclaimTheName campaign takes a similarly creative approach to naming this new space. Project: Under Gardiner was always intended to be a placeholder name  and this is our tip of the hat to Toronto’s inspiring new wave of civic leaders, community organizers and brilliant artists. Join us in a citywide naming brainstorm to reclaim this space. Our city is ready for a new story about the Gardiner – one filled with hope and possibility.

Let's reclaim the name together

One of our objectives with this campaign is to encourage you to explore the history and heritage of the site. This was the location of the former shoreline of Lake Ontario. For thousands of years before European settlers arrived, many First Nations peoples used these lands for hunting and fishing, including the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Later, John Graves Simcoe built Fort York here to protect the city’s harbour. Still later, the Grand Trunk Railway ran over these lands. From a historical perspective, the Gardiner Expressway is a relatively recent feature of this landscape – and even in that short time, the expressway has always been contested, as when Fred Gardiner once suggested moving Fort York in order to build it.  

With #ReclaimTheName, we’re asking Torontonians to dig into this project. Think about how it connects seven of Toronto’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods. Think about the history and the heritage of the land. Think about how it fills in a gap in the city’s trail network. And, also, think about its potential to bring communities together and create new and dynamic spaces for Toronto’s unique, local, creative culture to flourish.

Want to know more? Download our DIY Naming Toolkit (PDF) for help and inspiration hosting your own group brainstorm or part.

Then, visit the project website to submit your name to the campaign.


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.