Concord CityPlace is one of Toronto's youngest neighbourhoods, yet one of its most discussed. The mostly high-rise community built on former railway yards has been both lauded for its ambitious repurposing of disused land, and criticised for its lack of organic growth and too-similar architecture. As new residential developments continue to rise in and around CityPlace, the once homogenous demographic of trendy twentysomethings is now being balanced out by the addition of families, drawn to the neighbourhood by the new mixed-income TCHC Block 32, the Fort York Public Library under construction at the base of Library District Condos, and of course Canoe Landing Park, which opened in 2009.

This past Saturday, the 20-acre park gave us a taste of its full potential as a public event space when hundreds, if not thousands descended on CityPlace for the first annual Cityfest.

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoCanoe Landing Park as Cityfest was setting up, image by Jack Landau

Many in the community have long seen the potential value of Canoe Landing Park as an event space, and last December, a few determined CityPlace residents started planning a community festival, akin to a block party, using the large landscaped park in place of a road. “We’ve been working on Cityfest since late December of last year” said Phuong Dinh, one of the event’s co-organizers. “It’s been a very busy past couple of months but we are excited to launch Toronto’s newest festival at Concord CityPlace.”

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoSobeys staff preparing burgers as Cityfest begins, image by Jack Landau

With thousands of residents now living in this relatively small swath of land, the organic development starts now. The active involvement of community members in helping to plan and organize this event is a positive sign for a growing community spirit, and a more cohesive neighbourhood, now not just rich with amenities, but also the events necessary to facilitate a family-friendly community environment.  

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoA row of booths preparing to serve event-goers, image by Jack Landau

“As a long-time resident of Concord CityPlace, I have been actively involved in my local condo’s socials and community building initiatives. These have really brought residents together” said Tiberiu Scrieciu, one of Cityfest’s co-organizers. “Myself and fellow committee member Phuong Dinh wanted to organize a larger event to connect our vibrant community and celebrate what it has become. That is how Cityfest was born.”

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoThe sound of live music helped to draw pedestrians into the park from surrounding streets, image by Jack Landau

Cityfest landed a wide range of sponsors, including Sobeys, the neighbourhood’s main supermarket, Molson Coors, who hosted a beer garden, and Smokes Poutinerie (whose truck was impossible to resist)!

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoSmoke's Poutinerie truck serving up delicious eats at Cityfest, image by Jack Landau

The real party at Cityfest was on stage. Hosted by comedienne/musician Nicole Arbour (remember MuchMusic’s Video on Trial?), appearing through the day were Red Eye Flights, Brothers of the North, Ken Finch, Dafusin, Redlinerz, Vincent Laroche, Melleefresh, Sara Sims, No Big Deal, Zolo, Ish, and a headliner who closed the show.

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoLive performances at Cityfest in Canoe Landing Park, image courtesy of Cityfest

The event also featured ‘CityPlace Got Talent’, where six finalists from CityPlace, whittled down from 30 applicants, performed live for the crowd. Towards the end of the evening, Juno-nominated singer Karl Wolf performed as the headliner act before a lively crowd.

Canoe Landing Park, Cityfest, Concord CityPlace, TorontoCrowds gathered around the stage at Cityfest, image courtesy of Cityfest

After a successful first run, the return of Cityfest is anticipated for next summer. You'll find all the details online at www.cityfest.ca