Internationally renowned landscape architecture and urban design firms, Copenhagen-based SLA and Toronto-based Arcadis revealed the David Crombie Park redesign today. The two firms joined forces to create their vision for the redesign and revitalization of Toronto’s beloved 40-year-old community park. The design for David Crombie Park was developed following an extensive public and stakeholder consultation process involving residents, neighbourhood associations, Indigenous community members, Toronto Community Housing, Business Improvement Areas, and other voices. The team followed a nature-led design approach that will make social, ecological, and infrastructural improvements to enhance the historic and culturally significant green space in the heart of Old Toronto's St Lawrence community.

Renders of revitalized David Crombie Park. The tree-lined public way which runs the length of the St Lawrence neighbourhood is intersected by a series of N-S streets that open up sightlines and connections and create walking routes between different areas, image courtesy of SLA and Arcadis

The linear park project spans nearly two hectares across seven blocks, making the revitalization one of the City of Toronto’s largest open space projects over the last decade. The design framework addresses two key pressures: the end-of-life cycle of many of the park’s hard infrastructure elements, and the ongoing intensification in the area resulting in increased use. Enhanced programming to the blocks within the masterplan will improve play areas, support the presence of water, and secure space for sport and fitness, for gathering, and space dedicated to performance and leisure.

David Crombie Park site plan illustrates programming of the blocks: shared use playgrounds; wading pools & garden gathering places; sacred fire, lawn and seating groves; basketball court & water feature, image courtesy of SLA and Arcadis

Preserve, Revitalize, and Unite

The design maintains many of the park’s existing uses, updated for current needs. “Taking cues from the original masterplan of the park, we opted for a quite humble and considerate approach,” says Rasmus Astrup, senior partner and design principal at SLA and the project’s design lead. “By studying the park’s history, usage, values, and importance to the local community, we proposed a three-stringed design strategy: To preserve, revitalize, and unite.”

SLA is a nature-based design studio working in the realms of landscape architecture, urban planning, and nature-positive strategies. Designing resilient, green, livable places for all life is a mission at the very core of SLA’s work. With David Crombie Park, SLA has four ongoing projects in Toronto. The three others include the Quayside waterfront development, the masterplan for the former Toronto airport Downsview, and the redesign of St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

Preserving the Heritage

At David Crombie Park, recognizing the importance of preserving context and legacy while meeting the evolving needs of the community required a thoughtful approach. The design preserves the park’s historical character, maintaining many of the existing structures —such as retaining walls, concrete planters, the DC arch, and its sports courts— and relocating and intermixing existing paving materials with new and transformed materials.

David Crombie Park render; Block 3 – Preserved David Crombie arch at the wading pool, image courtesy of SLA and Arcadis

Revitalizing Existing Park Assets

One component of sustainability that the team built into the park design was through minimizing the park’s embodied carbon. The revitalization will retain existing structures, while bringing in new elements—such as wooden seats, benches and platforms— creating a sense of place, community, continuity and progression. Existing healthy trees remain, now complemented by new trees, natural planting and landscape zones that foresee a series of new, biodiverse habitats for local species. The design creates social gathering points across the site while strengthening the local climate resiliency.

“The use of Dynamic Carbon Modelling to quantify embodied carbon for the proposed development scheme of the iconic David Crombie Park is an essential component of the project’s design, ensuring we offset the project’s carbon footprint through carbon sequestration,” says Neno Kovacevic, Principal of Placemaking and Landscape Architecture at Arcadis. “Ultimately, the project aims to reach carbon neutrality 15 years after its completion and climate positivity every year after.”

David Crombie Park render; Block 2 – Lunch break in the park, image courtesy of SLA and Arcadis

Uniting Nature, People, and Community

SLA’s and Arcadis’ design seeks to unite the community by strengthening the park’s main promenade, supporting active mobility, introducing a new adventurous route through the park’s many new social programs, and connecting the park to the wider neighbourhood.

The park’s design also integrates Indigenous placemaking elements with designs by Indigenous owned Tawaw Architecture Collective. They include a safe, designated space for Indigenous community members to hold a sacred fire, a storytelling circle, Seven Sacred Teachings boulders in the children’s playground, and opportunities to learn the Anishinaabe language throughout the park.

Significant Social Infrastructure

The park and its edges are envisioned as a fully pedestrian and cycle-friendly recreational space. Alongside the park enhancements, the project will add new cycle track improvements and streetscape elements for a seamless integration of the park and public realm, better connecting The Esplanade with nearby Mill Street at the east end of the park. In so doing, it will support surrounding social infrastructure and entertainment areas, including the Distillery District and St Lawrence Market.

David Crombie Park render; Axonometric of Block 2, Autumn, image courtesy of SLA and Arcadis

SLA’s and Arcadis’ detailed design for David Crombie Park has been approved by the City of Toronto. Construction for the park and cycle track is slated to begin in Spring 2025 and be completed in 2027. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The article previously stated that the construction would be completed in 2026.)

For more information, see the project website at

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Arcadis