Lace Up: We’ll be Skating Under the Gardiner this Winter
The Bentway’s construction manager, Peter Kiewit Sons ULC, are hard at work with over 130 skilled labourers and more than 50 subcontractors, turning the space under the Gardiner into a vibrant public place. All hands are on deck to ensure that we’re able to open our skating trail to the public this winter.
Much progress has already been made, in thanks partly to the Gardiner itself which has offered a shelter from wet weather over the summer. Substantial excavation work has taken place and more than 1420 metres of utility piping has been installed, which is the equivalent of ten football fields. Above and below ground electrical conduits are in place that will power lighting fixtures throughout the site.
With winter skate season coming up, we are especially excited to see the fantastic progress on the skate trail and icehouse. Ice skating has been called the oldest human-powered means of transportation; skate artefacts have been found in Scandinavia and Russia going back 5000 years.
Our skating trail is a bit more modern than that. The 220-metre skating trail uses a refrigeration system: 13,746 metres of embedded piping, which is connected to the refrigeration system in the icehouse, carries coolant throughout the trail. When activated the coolant travels through the pipes to take the heat from the surface and distribute it to the refrigeration equipment. This means that ice production is less weather-dependant and visitors will be able to enjoy the trail throughout the winter. The foundation and walls of the icehouse are underway and surface concrete for the trail was poured on Saturday, September 30, 2017 (you can see some pictures below).
THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE BENTWAY SKATE TRAIL Toronto’s Newest Public Space Located Under the Gardiner Expressway
Saturday, January 6, 2018 @ 11am #BENTONWINTER18
Opening Weekend highlights include performances from Charmie Deller, Carmen Braden, the Toronto Ice Skate Group, and the Mayor’s Skate Party!
The Bentway, a new public space designed by PUBLIC WORK and Ken Greenberg Consultants located under the Gardiner Expressway, reimagines how Torontonians gather and experience art and events downtown.
Made possible by an unprecedented public-private collaboration between the City of Toronto and Judy and Wilmot Matthews, The Bentway is specifically designed for Toronto - a city where culture grows in unexpected and extraordinary places. The Bentway works closely with partners at the City of Toronto and Fort York National Historic Site to celebrate the unique character of this area underneath the Gardiner Expressway. Through excellence in stewardship, innovative programming, and world-class design, The Bentway seeks to engage the vibrant and diverse communities in the surrounding area and draw visitors from around the world.
The first section to be developed, The Bentway Skate Trail, will officially open to the public on Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 11am with special events all weekend.
Opening weekend festivities include performances from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Charmie Deller and composer and performer Carmen Braden with her Black Ice Sound music project; demonstrations of Ice Breaking, a unique hybrid of break dancing and freestyle ice skating by the Toronto Ice Skate Group; and art installations, food and drink, music throughout the day from the best of Toronto’s DJ scene, pop-up curling, and free admission to Fort York National Historic Site.
The opening weekend will also host the Mayor’s Skate Party on Sunday, January 7 from 1-4pm with Mayor Tory and members of Toronto City Council. Complimentary skate rentals and hot chocolate will be available during the fun, family event.
The inaugural Winter Season at The Bentway will run from January 6 – mid-March, 2018 (weather permitting). Ongoing winter programming will include free Monday night skate rentals; Beats and Bents Friday night skate parties with a rotating cast of DJs, and skate instruction and DJ and Ice Breaking Workshops. A skating village, designed by + tongtong, will be installed at The Bentway and will house the skate rental shop, warming stations and a variety of seating options. On weekend evenings, skaters are invited to warm up in the Strongbow Lounge, which will be serving up Strongbow Apple Ciders and other fine Molson Coors products. A curated food truck program will serve hot food, warm and cold drinks, and decadent desserts.
Throughout the Winter Season, The Bentway’s inaugural public art exhibition, “Constructions of the Everyday,” will be on view. For over fifty years the Gardiner Expressway has been a defining feature of Toronto’s urban landscape. In a radical act of renewal, The Bentway reimagines this static structure and imbues it with renewed relevance for a contemporary city. Embracing the spirit of transformation, the visual artists commissioned for “Constructions of the Everyday” ask visitors to find new value and beauty in the structures of everyday life.
The Bentway’s 2018 Winter Season is supported by the City of Toronto, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (an agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport), Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Strongbow, and Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts.
Special thanks to 102.1 the Edge, the Ontario Tire Stewardship, Giant Containers, and Style Garage.
The Bentway is a unique and innovative public space that transforms 1.75km underneath Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, from Strachan Avenue to Bathurst Street, into a new gathering place for our city’s growing population.
The initial phase, a 1.1km trail and series of public spaces, knits together seven local neighbourhoods with over 70,000 residents, becoming a gateway to the waterfront, while providing access to important attractions and destinations – from Fort York National Historic Site, Ontario Place and Exhibition Place to Harbourfront Centre and the CN Tower. The Bentway offers year-round activities and events, including gardens, a skating rink, recreational amenities, public markets, public art, special exhibitions, festivals, theatre and musical performances and more.