Evergreen CEO Geoff Cape on reimagining the city's ravine system

It’s hidden. At moments it easily disappears under the hustle and bustle of Torontonians crisscrossing the city, and more often than not, it’s forgotten buried under a growing population and years and layers of urban development.

But stand anywhere in the city and you can see an urban space defined by the southward flow of rivers into Lake Ontario. While it may go unnoticed, this built space has its foundation in the ravines – rooted in a wild landscape of dramatic geography and forest that been horrendously scarred by industry and during recent years has slowly remerged in our city’s conscience.

This week our ravine system, one of Toronto’s most dominant and dramatic landscapes comprising 17 per cent of the city’s total area, reaches a turning point.  

On September 26, 2017, the City of Toronto’s final Ravine Strategy will be presented to Executive Committee for approval and subsequently sent to City Council. In it we see a promising new chapter, one that provides for the first time an intentional and coordinated framework, vision and approach to the management of Toronto's ravine system.

For over 20 years, Evergreen has been deeply involved with strategic planning and conservation projects in the Don Valley and has seen firsthand the success of a shared working model when community leaders come together. Adoption of the Ravine Strategy and the recommendation to convene a table of "Ravine Leaders" is an opportunity to ensure ongoing financial support and leadership to motivate and drive the work required to restore the fragile ecology and enhance connectivity in our ravine system.

Toronto is poised to be a world leader in how cities build in innovation into greenspaces, achieving park space that is inclusive of urban design and city systems growth and change. This kind of park space is essential in creating low carbon flourishing cities of the future.

This investment in green infrastructure cannot go unnoticed.

Almost a year ago, Evergreen with the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, marked the ‘First Mile’ of a city-wide ravine strategy. With it, we launched the Don River Valley Park project, a multi-year public and private fundraising campaign to create a ‘super park’, a massive 480-acre green space spanning from Evergreen Brick Works south to the mouth of Lake Ontario.

This weekend we join the City in celebrating this shared public space with the unveiling of the first installation of our new public art program along the Don River. Art is a great provocateur of ideas - and public art, a vital element in building vibrant flourishing cities.  For the past two years, we have worked with talented local, Canadian and international artists to create artworks that respond to the Don Valley’s ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous histories and future.

The Don River Valley Park Art Program will drive conversations about public space, adding a new narrative to our collective ravine story.

We hope you travel into the ravines, stop, contemplate and help us reimagine our city’s biggest asset.