Toronto

Toronto gets sneak peek at 16-km urban park that will connect downtown to Scarborough

Dozens of Torontonians turned out to get a sneak peek at the first plans for a 16-kilometre long stretch of green space that would see pedestrians and cyclists be able to make their way from the downtown core up to Scarborough without ever leaving the park.

The Meadoway will transform hydro corridor into 'amazing meadow full of all kinds of insects and butterflies'

The Meadoway will transform a hydro corridor into an 'amazing meadow full of all kinds of insects and butterflies,' say organizers. (TRCA)

Dozens of Torontonians turned out to get a sneak peek of the first plans for a 16-kilometre long stretch of green space that would see pedestrians and cyclists be able to make their way from the downtown core up to Scarborough without ever leaving the park.

The project, called The Meadoway, first made headlines last spring, and would transform a barren hydro corridor into a fully-connected greenway linking 15 parks, 34 neighbourhoods and four ravines all the way from the Don River Ravine to Rouge National Urban Park in Scarborough. Officials said last year the project would take an estimated seven years to complete. 

Attendees had a chance to weigh in on what they envisioned the park would be.

Tina Hamlett, part of a group called Morningside Community Changers, was among them. 

As part of her vision to transform what is now a stretch of open field behind her neighbourhood at Morningside Avenue and Ellesmere Road, she put forward a host of ideas — something organizers say they welcome.

Pollinator plants for the bees, birds, butterfly populations, a zen garden with fountains, an urban garden to help with food sustainability concerns in her neighbourhood, a greenhouse are all among the features Hamlett would like to try to implement for the Military Trail community.

Tina Hamlett, part of a group called Morningside Community Change, attended Wednesday's consultation. (John Sandeman/CBC)

The most important thing to Hamlett? "That we are really forming a real community."

Lisa Turnbull, senior manager of project management at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, says the entire project is expected to cost about $85 million. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has pledged $25 million to support it.

The Meadoway isn't the only major park initiative underway in Toronto. Rail Deck Park and The Bentway are also in the works — but situated in the downtown core. 

"Scarborough is home to over 600,000 people. It's not the downtown, so we need to create community spaces that are specific to the mode of living," said Paul Kulig, a principal of urban design firm Perkins+Will's.

"It's going to be this amazing meadow full of all kinds of insects and butterflies," said Richard Ubbens, director of parks for the city. 

That's part of what Hamlett would like to see, especially for the families who live in her neighbourhood.

She'd like to see a space where "children have a wonderful experience growing up and then when they graduate and move on, these are good memories that they can have — basically having a legacy for the Morningside area."

The Meadoway, highlighted in yellow here, would span from the Don River Valley to Rouge National Urban Park. (The Meadoway)

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