Sherbourne Common, Canada's Sugar Beach, and the Water's Edge Promenade
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Life in East Bayfront will be defined by the lake and the parks and public spaces surrounding it. Two signature parks, Sherbourne Common and Canada’s Sugar Beach, and a kilometre-long continuous Water’s Edge Promenade and Boardwalk make up a quarter of the community.

Canada’s Sugar Beach is a whimsical new park that transformed a surface parking lot in a former industrial area into Toronto’s second urban beach at the water’s edge.

Located at the foot of Lower Jarvis Street adjacent to the Redpath Sugar Factory, the 8500 square metre (2 acre) park is the first public space visitors see as they travel along Queens Quay from the central waterfront. The park’s brightly coloured pink beach umbrellas and iconic candy-striped rock outcroppings welcome visitors to the new waterfront neighbourhood of East Bayfront.

The design for Canada’s Sugar Beach, by Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes draws upon the industrial heritage of the area and its relationship to the neighbouring Redpath Sugar factory. The park features three distinct components: an urban beach; a plaza space; and a tree-lined promenade running diagonally through the park.

Canada’s Sugar Beach reminds us that Toronto’s waterfront is a playful destination. The beach allows visitors to while away the afternoon as they read, play in the sand or watch boats on the lake. A dynamic water feature embedded in a granite maple leaf beside the beach makes cooling off fun for adults and children.

The park’s plaza offers a dynamic space for public events. A large candy-striped granite rock outcropping and three grass mounds give the public unique vantage points for larger events and the spaces between the mounds result in a natural performance space for smaller events.

Between the plaza and the beach, people will stroll through the park along a promenade featuring granite and tumbled concrete cobblestones in a maple leaf mosaic pattern. Lined with mature maple trees, the promenade offers a shaded route to the water’s edge providing the public with many opportunities along the way to sit and enjoy views to the lake, beach or plaza.

Torontonians and visitors may now enjoy the lakefront east of the Jarvis slip. A first stretch of water's edge promenade, which connects Canada's Sugar Beach with Sherbourne Common, is now open.

In the future, the promenade will extend almost a full kilometre, all the way to the Parliament Slip.

In total, Waterfront Toronto is building 30 metres of public space between buildings and Lake Ontario along the full length of East Bayfront. It will be made up of two key parts: a 10-metre wide granite mosaic promenade and an 11-metre wide wooden boardwalk. There will also be an additional nine metre pedestrian area between buildings and the promenade.

The way people experience the water’s edge from either the promenade or boardwalk will be quite different. Along the promenade, a row of mature trees lining each side will create a

French-style allée by the lake sheltering pedestrians from sun and wind. The boardwalk, open to the elements, gives pedestrians full exposure to the lake.

In keeping with a commitment to sustainability and design excellence, Waterfront Toronto is constructing a stormwater management system in East Bayfront that will be integrated into the design of the area’s public realm, including Sherbourne Common. This integrated approach allows required stormwater infrastructure to be beautiful, functional, sustainable and cost-effective.

Sherbourne Common is a stunning waterfront park that has transformed a former industrial area into much needed public greenspace on the lake. It is also the first park in Canada to integrate a neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment facility into its design.

Located just east of Lower Sherbourne Street, the 1.5 hectare park spans more than two city blocks, from Lake Ontario in the south to Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, on both sides of Queens Quay.

Sherbourne Common was designed by renowned landscape architects Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg to bring a feeling of "life at the lake" to the area. The park features a wide open greenspace, a skating rink that doubles as a splash pad in the summer, a striking zinc-clad Pavilion, and a stunning water channel with three dramatic art sculptures. Sherbourne Common will become a well-used destination for city residents and visitors all year-round.

Sherbourne Common is the first park in Canada to integrate an ultraviolet (UV) facility for neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment into its design. The UV facility for East Bayfront’s stormwater management system is located in the basement of the park’s Pavilion. Collected stormwater is treated in the UV facility and released from three dramatic art features into a 240-metre long water channel – or urban river – and back out to Lake Ontario.

Sherbourne Common features a number of sustainability best practices. Examples of sustainability features incorporated into the park’s design include easy access to public transportation, storage for bicycles and other alternative means of transportation, reduction of light pollution, water efficient landscaping as well as renewable energy sources for the park’s Pavilion. The Pavilion will also be pursuing LEED Gold certification for the building which is in line with Waterfront Toronto’s mandatory Green Building Requirements.

A signature part of the park’s design is a stunning 240 metre long water channel featuring three dramatic art sculptures that rise almost nine metres from the ground called “Light Showers” by artist Jill Anholt. The sculptures were made using large fibreglass molds that were reinforced with an epoxy-covered rebar and filled with agila concrete. After the concrete cured, the sculptures were carefully removed from the molds, craned on the site and installed on concrete floorings.

Waterfront Toronto’s striking Pavillion in Sherbourne Common received an Award of Merit from the 2009 Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence. Learn more about the award.

Address Queens Quay East & Sherbourne St, Toronto, Ontario
Category Public Space
Status Complete
Completion 2011

Developer Waterfront Toronto
Architect Teeple Architects
Green Infrastructure DeepRoot Green Infrastructure
Planning PFS Studio
Buildings Discussion
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