Toronto's very own Corktown Common has received international recognition from Popular Science magazine for its environmental and community impact. The magazine just released its winners for their 27th annual Best of What's New, and awarded the Michael Van Valkenburg Associates-designed Corktown Common in the Green category. The park won because of its sustainable design as well as its positive and lasting impact on the community and the surrounding environment.

"It is an incredible honour for Corktown Common to be recognized by Popular Science," said John Campbell, President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto. "With Corktown Common, we combined critical infrastructure with a high-quality community park which will deliver long-term environmental, social and economical benefits. This is a very prestigious award and confirms that leading revitalization efforts with the development of great parks and public spaces works."

A view of the grassland landscape, image by Jimmy Wu

What exactly makes Corktown Common special? Its sizeable 18 acres are a great space for relaxing with friends amidst its 700 trees, as well as thousands of shrubs and many aquatic plants too. You can walk its trails, play sports, or take in views of the city. A children's playground has all the equipment they love, and a wet area to cool down in on hot days.

In the image below, behind the popular water play area is the Maryann Thompson-designed pavilion which houses an office, a restroom, and a chimney with photovoltaics to reduce the park's energy footprint.

Looking at the pavillion for Corktown Common, image by Jimmy Wu

The park is built on a berm known as a Flood Protect Landform (FPL) which protects the city when the Don River occasionally tops its banks. Ponds are a vital part of the landscape, expanding the park's ecosystem and its biodiversity while providing an underground water recycling system that gathers an purifies rain-water. 

Jennifer Bogo, Executive Editor of Popular Science, said that Corktown Common fit their criteria as they look for impact. "Things that make a significant difference; dramatically reduce energy use, cut waste or otherwise leave the world a cleaner and more sustainable place." She said she also looks for things that are truly innovative. "Corktown Common fit both of those criteria, while also turning an industrial area into a green space that benefits both people and wildlife."

A sunny view looking west at the West Don Lands, image by Forum contributor agoraflaneur

With the West Don Lands transforming from disused industrial land into a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive mutli-purpose community, this park is the key part of that transformation. Above are just a few of those 700 trees, looking westward at the new neighbourhood and the Downtown skyline. With its ribbon cutting ceremony this past summer, Corktown Common is already making waves as a newly opened park.

Additional information and renderings are available in the Corktown Common database file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.