On June 27, 2016, a year ahead of the project's expected completion, members of Toronto's Trinity-Spadina community gathered at Grange Park. Framed by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and OCAD U's Sharp Centre for Design, the re-imagined park is set to greet its first visitors on next year's Canada Day. Joined by Ward 20 councillor Joe Cressy and representatives of the AGO, OCAD U, the City of Toronto, and the Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC), residents, stakeholders, and everyone in between, gathered to mark the preemptive milestone. "Get in here," Cressy called out to the hesitant as the crowd began to assemble for a photo, "everybody get in the picture!"
With the historic Grange house peeking over the crowd's shoulders in the photo above, yesterday's celebrations marked another step forward in the eponymous park's transformation. With funding contributed by the Weston Family, the AGO, and the City of Toronto, construction of the new Grange Park is already well underway, with the south promenade—stretching north from John Street—now re-opened to the public.
North of the revamped promenade, the park space is in the midst of construction, with pathways and water features beginning to be installed as grading is completed. Designed by PFS Studios (with Thinc Design as Executive Architects), the new park will restore the carriage path that once fronted the stately house, while new play areas and water features will be complemented by an additional 60 trees. In the centre of the park, a paved gathering place will offer a venue for outdoor events and performances.
At the east end of the park, the green space will extend to meet Butterfield Park, a much smaller space tucked under OCAD U's 'tabletop' on McCaul. The consolidation of the two parks—which were previously separated by a small parking lot—will increase the total green space by 10%. Additional seating will also be installed, and the park will lead to a secondary entrance to the AGO near Beverley Street, fostering a strengthened link between the public space and the gallery to its north.
Currently situated on the main approach to the AGO at the southwest corner of Dundas and McCaul, Henry Moore's "Large Two Forms" will also be moved into the park, taking a central place alongside the carriage path. The iconic—and climbable—sculpture will be joined by what Joe Cressy promises will be the "coolest playground in the city."
With the 12-year process to build a new park now nearing its conclusion, members of the community were eager to celebrate the progress. Conceived through community consultations and extensive local input—and passion—Cressy hailed the new park as a space to "serve all members of the community," as public spaces should be. In a young city, Grange Park is an old place, and soon to be a new one too. "May it be a place that brings us all together for another 100 years thereafter."
We will keep you updated as construction progresses and the park continues to take shape over the next year. For more information, including many renderings of the planned improvements, visit our dataBase file, linked below. You can get in on the conversation in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.