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innovative new park opens on Toronto's downtown waterfront

Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, Toronto City Councillor Pam McConnell, Chair of Waterfront Toronto Mark Wilson and Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation Glen Murray officially open Sherbourne Common.

An innovative new park on Toronto’s waterfront that will clean stormwater in its Pavilion and public art installations and release the treated water back into Lake Ontario officially opened today.  Sherbourne Common is the third and largest new public space opened by Waterfront Toronto and its government partners since August in Toronto’s downtown waterfront area.


Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, Toronto City Councillor Pam McConnell, Chair of Waterfront Toronto Mark Wilson and Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation Glen Murray officially open Sherbourne Common.


Located in the heart of the new East Bayfront neighbourhood, the south side of Sherbourne Common, which opened today, stretches more than a hectare from Lake Ontario to Queens Quay. When the north side of the park opens later this fall, the 1.5 hectare park will cover two city blocks from the water’s edge to Lake Shore Boulevard.


With development growing all around it, including George Brown College on its western edge, the newly approved Hines Bayside development to its east and flanked by Great Gulf’s Parkside development to the north, Sherbourne Common will become the heart of this new community and a major civic destination.


More than just a beautiful public space, Sherbourne Common is also the first park in Canada to integrate an ultraviolet (UV) treatment facility for neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment into its design. Collected stormwater is treated in a UV Facility located in the basement of the park’s Pavilion and released from three dramatic art features into a 240-metre long water channel — or urban river — and back out to Lake Ontario.


“Today’s opening demonstrates the importance of Federal government participation in the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront,” said Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “The federal government’s $27 million contribution to this beautiful and innovative park supports a unique venue that will become a landmark not only for Torontonians but all Canadians.”


“The Government of Ontario is proud to be a partner in this vibrant, and sustainable public space that makes Toronto, and Ontario, a great place to work, live, play and visit,” said Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation and Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Centre. “This project supports the Open Ontario initiative by creating jobs and enhancing the quality of life for Ontarians.”


"Building a new waterfront means leading with public spaces first, and Sherbourne Common is one of Toronto's most imaginative parks in decades — utilizing many water features from Lake Shore Boulevard to the water's edge," said Mayor David Miller.


Sherbourne Common offers something for everyone and will bring people to this formerly industrial part of the waterfront all year-round. Designed by renowned Canadian landscape architect Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg to be both a city-wide destination and neighbourhood amenity, Sherbourne Common features wide open greenspace on the south side of the park providing ample space for festivals, concerts and other city-wide events overlooking Lake Ontario.


“Today we are opening another must-see park on Toronto’s waterfront,” said Mark Wilson, Chair, Waterfront Toronto. “By combining required municipal infrastructure with excellence in design, architecture and public art, Sherbourne Common offers a new model for city-builders nationwide and a fabulous year-round destination.”


In addition to the urban river that runs the length of the park, a 920m2 pond will be frozen for a winter skating rink and act as a splash pad for summer waterplay. Surrounding the pond, a zinc-clad, architecturally award-winning Pavilion offers restrooms and will house a café as the neighbourhood develops.  Teeple Architects Inc. designed the Pavilion, Jill Anholt is the public artist and The Municipal Infrastructure Group engineered the park’s UV Facility. The local consultant is The Planning Partnership.


Chosen after an online public naming contest, the name ‘Sherbourne Common’ reflects the idea that parks and public spaces should belong to the people. Launched earlier this year, the month-and-a-half long public naming contest received more than 500 submissions and thousands of votes from people across Canada.


The budget for Sherbourne Common — both the north and south sides of the park — including site preparation costs (demolition and soil remediation) and design and construction costs for the park, water channel and UV Facility is $28.7 million plus an additional $1.9 million for the public art features.


Revitalization efforts are well underway across the waterfront.


  • In East Bayfront Canada’s Sugar Beach, the first phase of water’s edge promenade and the new headquarters for Corus Entertainment are now open. Construction continues on the George Brown College Waterfront Campus which will welcome students in September 2012 and in August, Toronto City Council overwhelmingly approved Waterfront Toronto’s development agreement with Hines for Bayside — an $800 million private sector investment on the waterfront.
  • In the West Don Lands, Toronto Community Housing has begun construction on the area’s first affordable housing complex, and construction is underway on Don River Park.


Plans for the Lower Don Lands were endorsed by Toronto City Council this summer and In the Central Waterfront, the first phase of construction to revitalize Queens Quay will begin next year.


Waterfront Toronto
The Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Toronto created Waterfront Toronto to oversee and lead the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. Public accessibility, design excellence, sustainable development, economic development and fiscal sustainability are the key drivers of waterfront revitalization.




Media Contacts:


  • Samantha Gileno, Waterfront Toronto 416-214-1344 x264 or 416-271-1316
  • Annette Robertson, Press Secretary, Department of Finance Canada, Minister’s Office 613-996-7861
  • Stuart Green, Deputy Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor 416-338-7119

For more information, visit the Sherbourne Common project page.

Image Gallery:
High-resolution renderings are available for download below

A south looking view of Sherbourne Common and the park's Pavilion.

Sherbourne Common's Water Channel with Biofiltration Bed

Toronto City Councillor Pam McConnell, Chair of Waterfront Toronto Mark Wilson, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation Glen Murray and Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty officially cut the ribbon at the opening of Sherbourne Common.

Park visitors enjoy the new water channel at the official opening of Sherbourne Common

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