Started from the Top of Bathurst, Now We’re Here

(Social Micro) Improvements along Bathurst Street add to Toronto’s green spaces.

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Bathurst Street received its first streetcar line in 1885. Horse-drawn carriages started at Bloor and Bathurst Streets and ended at Front and Frederick, making the original route one of Toronto’s great cultural treks both then and today.

The streetcar route gave birth to neighborhoods like the Annex (Bloor and Bathurst) Kensington Market (stop at College and Spadina), King West Village (King and Spadina) and the northern tip of the Esplanade (King and Frederick)

This uninterrupted line of transit allowed easy access to various Toronto neighborhoods, offering north-south transit between homes and neighborhoods just minutes away from the shore of Lake Ontario.

In 2003, City Council approved Bill 151, changing Waterfront Toronto’s status from an interim corporation to a permanent non-share corporation.

To implement a plan that enhances the economic, social and cultural value of the land in the designated waterfront area and creates an accessible and active waterfront for living, working and recreation, and to do so in a fiscally and environmentally responsible manner.

The Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto each committed $500 million to renew Toronto’s waterfront with the plan to spread financing over 30 years, in order to develop the area significantly, but not at a rate that would outrun intelligent urban planning.

“Our Toronto waterfront plan will reconnect our city with its lake, not as a patchwork quilt, but as an integrated whole.” — Mel Lastman

Despite good intentions, between Lower Jarvis and York Street, the waterfront plan has become exactly what Mel Lastman didn’t want — a patchwork quilt. Large buildings like the Corus Building and Redpath sugar factory block the view of the water until you reach the city’s shore by foot.

The situation is similar centrally, with condos blocking the view from Queen’s Quay, stretching westbound to Spadina Avenue.

The Ontario Place revitalization is better news for the downtown waterfront, as the (delayed) $100million project is bringing landscaped green space to the land abandoned by the commercial amusement park.

left: Ontario Place revitalization 2015 mockup right: Rail Deck Park mockup (2016)

John Tory’s executive committee voted unanimously Thursday to direct staff to spend $2.4 million to hire seven or more staff to begin consultation on the “Central Park of Toronto” on Front Street, between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way.

So, despite the rising condo density along the city’s waterfront, there are initiatives in place to add to the waterfront’s therapeutic landscape, and add green space along the route that serves a large part of the waterfront community.