Since earlier this summer, construction has been pressing along for a one of the most significant new public spaces Toronto has seen in years. To be known as The Bentway, the project from Waterfront Toronto—mostly paid for by the generous philanthropy of Judy and Will Matthews, with the City of Toronto kicking in—is designed by landscape architects Public Work in collaboration with Greenberg Consultants. The Bentway will bring into public use land that has long been overlooked and ignored, pedestrianizing a 1.75 kilometre-long stretch below the Gardiner Expressway, stretching from Strachan Avenue to Spadina.

Site of The Bentway, image by Forum contributor ADRM

The project is being constructed in phases, with the initial phase set to contain a highway-sheltered open air theatre and performance space with bleachers at Strachan Avenue, a skating trail, and an associated skating building attached to the existing Fort York Visitors Centre.

Terraced soil earthworks are now taking shape, marking the site of the future amphitheatre. This section of The Bentway will be an important link to the surrounding street grid, addressing the grade separation between The Bentway and Strachan Avenue, while also making connections with the city's growing trail network.

Earthworks visible from Strachan Avenue, image by Forum contributor ADRM 

One of the most anticipated elements in The Bentway is the skating trail and rink. This component includes a linear skateway and a rink, separated by a rubber matting material that will protect the blades of skaters moving between the path and rink. Since earlier this summer, excavation for the below-grade infrastructure serving the skate trail has been progressing to the east of the Fort York Visitors' Centre.

Excavation for The Bentway's skate trail, image by Forum contributor ADRM 

At the time of our last update in July, work was underway to shore side slopes for the skating building, and in the time since, forming has commenced for the 1,800 ft² structure that will house the skating trail's Zamboni.

Forming underway for The Bentway's Zamboni enclosure, image by Craig White

As work progresses on these major elements of The Bentway, crews continue to shape the project's underground servicing and utilities elements, which include sanitary and storm sewers, water mains and general stormwater infrastructure. Work on this element of the project is expected to wrap up later this month. The first phase of The Bentway is expected to open this December, in time for the winter skating season. Future phases are planned to extend this linear public space further to the east and west, though the timeline for construction of these extensions has yet to be confirmed.

The Bentway's skating trail, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

We will return with updates as construction of The Bentway progresses. In the meantime, additional information and renderings of the project can be found in our database file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  City of Toronto, Greenberg Consultants, Kee Safety, Public Work, urbanMetrics inc., Waterfront Toronto