Urban Toronto filled the front spot at the groundbreaking for Waterfront Toronto's Don River Park in the West Don Lands yesterday afternoon. Assembled stakeholders, politicos, and press gathered on the windswept berm, built to protect the Don River floodplain, straining to imagine the sprawling green space set to open in late 2011/early 2012. Text by Doug Convoy. Photos by Interchange42.

Waterfront Toronto Chair Mark Wilson speaking to the crowd at Don River ParkWaterfront Toronto Chair Mark Wilson speaking to the crowd at Don River Park

Mayor David Miller pointed out the successful strategy along the waterfront of building spaces for people first, such as Canada’s Sugar Beach, and erecting buildings later, a strategy that will continue with the construction of this park.

Mayor David Miller speaking to the crowd at Don River ParkMayor David Miller speaking to the crowd at Don River Park

Mayor David Miller speaking to the crowd at Don River ParkMayor David Miller speaking to the crowd at Don River Park

Former Ottawa mayor and current Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli highlighted the Province’s $500 million contribution to Toronto’s waterfront revitalization while Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty spoke of Ottawa’s commitment to infrastructure development as a means of shoring up Canada’s economy amidst continued global economic uncertainty. Flaherty described recent progress on Toronto’s waterfront as ‘remarkable.’

Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli speakingOntario Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli speaking

From left to right: Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli, Mayor David Miller, Waterfront Toronto Chair Mark Wilson, Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty.

Posing for the groundbreaking ceremonyPosing for the groundbreaking ceremony

Posing for the groundbreaking ceremonyPosing for the groundbreaking ceremony

The gathering overlooking the grounds of the future Don River Park and the West Don Lands communities, including the athletes’ village for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Nineteen times the size of Dundas Square, the 3.2 hectare (7.9 acre), $26 million Don River Park is piggybacking on the essential floodplain berm designed to guard a wide swath of the city core, including the Financial District, against future Hurricane Hazel-type inundation.

The crowd at the groundbreaking for the Don River ParkThe crowd at the groundbreaking for the Don River Park

Don River Park will include active play areas, a lawn, and a marsh and will connect the Don River Trail and the Martin Goodman Trail.

Layout of the Don River ParkLayout of the Don River Park

Rendering of the Don River ParkRendering of the Don River Park

Rendering of the Don River ParkRendering of the Don River Park