In cities experiencing explosive growth, we have to get creative about green spaces. It’s not easy to find land for new parks. We need new models, new ideas, new thinking. Enter Toronto’s Green Line–a project that I’m working on at Park People.
The Green Line is important, not just because it creates more green space in neighbourhoods that need it, but because it represents a new, creative way to think about parks in Toronto.
The key to the Green Line is that it takes a hydro corridor and a set of nine existing small parks, and connects all of these together with new green spaces to create something larger and more impactful.
Rather than thinking about each park as an individual space, the potential of the Green Line is seeing the entire 5km length, from Earlscourt Park to just east of Spadina Road, as one continuous park. Much like knocking down walls in a small house creates larger, more usable spaces from tinier rooms, creating connections between parks in the corridor creates a much larger, more usable park.
We’ve been working hard at Park People, along with our partners Workshop Architecture and the Friends of the Green Line, to make the Green Line a reality.
We’ve advocated for new green spaces to be created in the corridor and seen the City commit in the 2016 budget to license the land to create four new parks. We’ve engaged with hundreds of community members with fun activities that bring people to the Green Line through walks, parties, bike rides, and harvest festivals.
We’ve beautified the walls of the Dovercourt underpass with a new mural by celebrated street artist Roadsworth. We’ve created new natural habitat with the Friends of Frankel Lambert Community Garden in a new pollinator garden. We’ve worked with Ryerson University students on a study that lays out the Green Line’s challenges and opportunities. The Toronto Star endorsed the Green Line, calling it “brilliant.”
And we’re just getting started.
And, if you can forgive the plug, we’re hosting a Green Line Fundraiser and Celebration on Thursday, March 31 at Geary Lane. We want to celebrate the successes that we’ve all had together and raise some money to continue working. If you’re in Toronto, come!
Linear parks like the Green Line are crucial to urban neighbourhoods that find themselves struggling to create new parks. These spaces have become extremely popular in cities around North America, from well-known projects like New York’s High Line and Chicago’s 606 to our local Toronto gems like the Midtown Beltline and West Toronto Railpath.
Because of their long skinny shape, linear parks are able to connect many communities together, providing space to relax, but also a safe, pleasant route to bike, walk, or run along. The Green Line is no exception. It would connect neighbourhoods in the west like Davenport Village to the Annex in the east.
The Green Line is a key east-west link. If we plug the Green Line into existing bike routes like the West Toronto Railpath to the south, and Prospect Cemetery and the York and Midtown Beltline to the north, it suddenly becomes a part of a much larger already established network of trails and parks.
Linear parks also reach more people than traditional square-shaped parks because they extend their long, skinny shapes farther into neighbourhoods.
This is why the Green Line would have more people within walking distance than a park like Dufferin Grove, which actually contains a similar amount of space. A study by Ryerson University students found more than 65,000 people living within a 10-minute walk of the Green Line—that’s more than the entire population of Aurora, Ontario.
So what needs to happen to bring the Green Line to life? We need to create more green spaces in the corridor, build connections over the roadways, and run a continuous trail through both the parks and the parking lots in the east.
We’ve built a lot of positive momentum in the past year to get this done. With support from local politicians, city staff, community members, and people like you, we can make the Green Line a reality.
photos by Sammy Tangir (people walking) and Dan Bergeron (mural)