The Don River Valley Park is the centrepiece of Toronto’s rapidly growing downtown: A vast, connected 200-hectare landscape, spanning from Pottery Road south to Corktown Common at the mouth of Lake Ontario.
The Don River Valley is an incomparable but undervalued asset. Largely inaccessible and fragmented, this landscape has remained largely overlooked for decades. With increasing incidences of extreme weather, the environmental and financial consequences of inaction are growing exponentially.
At the same time, there is increasing awareness that the pace and intensity of development in Toronto requires a counterpart—greenspace—to complement the urban core.
The answer is hiding in plain sight: our stunningly beautiful valley system.
As the ‘backyard’ to 250,000 residents (and soon another 60,000), representing some of the greatest cultural and economic diversity in Canada, it is time for Toronto to recognize, reclaim, protect and enhance the Don River Valley.
The Don River Valley Park will restore and enhance the natural environment, build connections, improve access for everyone and generate cultural activity. It will draw tourists to Toronto and stimulate economic activity and investment. Here’s what to expect:
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South of Gerrard Street, the narrows of the Don River offer potential for a grand transformation—a river’s edge walkway, rich with ecology, reaching west toward the revitalized Regent Park and east towards Riverside.
Further south, the Don Landing trailhead is a critical nodal point and southern gateway where the new mouth of the Don River will meet Corktown Common and the Unilever redevelopment. A thoughtful, artistic gesture will recognize the geographical importance of this confluence.
Divided by rail lines, highways and the channelized Don River, Riverdale Park East and West are cut off from each other and the river’s edge.
In the centre of the valley a massive green land bridge will boldly lift the landscape up and out, creating one unified park space. Riverdale Farm and Bridgepoint Health will become increasingly important gateways into the Valley from surrounding neighbourhoods.
The northern zone of the Don Valley has a legacy set in industry: the Don Valley Brick Works and Todmorden Mills. As the primary public destination within the Valley today, connecting Evergreen Brick Works to the east side of the Don River is an important initiative in the Valley’s transformation.
To the south of this connection, in the greatest expanse of the Valley floor, a new wetland park will offer the single largest opportunity to restore the ecology of the Don.
Evergreen is working with the City of Toronto to help realize and augment the first phase as part of the Lower Don Master Plan. A number of opportunities have been identified as early strategic investments for realizing the new Don River Valley Park.
A series of bold moves will build on successes from the first phase to realize the greater vision for the Don River Valley Park.
This spring, artist Duane Linklater will initiate the Don River Valley Park Art Program through a striking installation of cast cement gargoyles on the Lower Don Trail. The sculptures are casts from gargoyles adorning prominent buildings in downtown Toronto.
Linklater’s project stems from an interest in the structural changes made to the Lower Don River as it became an industrial hub in colonial Toronto. The artist thus asks the viewer to look closely at the trajectory of Toronto’s history, and the changes made to the natural environment with the development of cities in settler societies. The gargoyle as an icon communicates power and authority; it is a protector of a certain kind of colonial space.
Linklater proposes to re-deploy or re-purpose the figure of the gargoyle in relation to the Don River. At-once-recognizable figures, here they will rest in a passive position along the river, perceivable as a series of ruins. Linklater’s gargoyle sculptures focus attention on the Lower Don’s role in Toronto’s industrialization, while sparking a larger conversation regarding ongoing Indigenous and colonial occupation of the city.
Spend Family Day at Evergreen Brick Works! Enjoy free skating sponsored by Tricon and other outdoor activities with the family. Later, refuel with Brewer's Backyard and local food options. Bring your skates, your hiking poles, your fat bikes, or rent them from us!Learn More
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Evergreen has launched a fundraising campaign, The Ribbon, to kick-start the first phase of creating the Don River Valley Park. The Ribbon is envisioned as the metaphorical link between the Valley and its diverse neighbouring communities.
Please contact Stephanie Thorson to learn more.
Oct 18, 2016
At a news conference at Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto Mayor John Tory, joined by Evergreen CEO Geoff Cape, and the Don River Valley Park Campaign Chair Andy Chisholm, patrons and supporters, marked the ‘First Mile’ of the city-wide ravine strategy.
June 9, 2016
Construction has begun on improvements to the Lower Don Trail between Pottery Rd and Riverdale Bridge.
Starting June 19, the 28 Bayview South bus will be offering service to Evergreen Brick Works 7 days a week.
May 25, 2016
“I think tonight is important. Over the last two years we have seen a growing momentum in discourse, dialogue and dreaming about our city's natural areas…”
April 15, 2016
“What if Toronto had a massive park ready to be born?” asked Alex Bozikovic in a feature that he penned in The Globe and Mail.
Geoff Cape, CEO at Evergreen, speaks to the most central artery of Toronto’s ravine system, the Don Valley, and why now is the time for it to take centre stage in the city’s consciousness.
The Don River Valley Park is a collaborative vision, created by people committed to changing Toronto for the better, to transforming Toronto the good into Toronto the great. See our Community Supporters & Collaborators (PDF, 515KB)
Realizing this new Park will take the energy and ideas of many more. Please contact us to become a project collaborator.
This video paints a picture of the Don River Valley’s beautiful landscape, its special history and illustrates the barriers to accessing this urban parkland in its current state. Produced by the Ecological Design Lab at Ryerson University.
Evergreen brought together over 75 landscape architects and designers, urban planners, City and Toronto Region Conversation Authority staff, artists and students from Ryerson University’s Ecological Design Lab and the University of Toronto’s Master of Landscape Architecture program in a design charette to ‘Imagine a Don Valley Neighbourhood’.
Evergreen partnered with the Ecological Design Lab at Ryerson University, under the direction of Dr. Nina-Marie Lister, in the creation of a series of studio projects exploring the revitalization of the Lower Don watershed.