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Courtesy of Urbantoronto.ca user JasonZed


The jewel in the landscape of the West Don Lands, Corktown Common is a 7.3 hectare (18 acre) park located at the foot of Lower River Street and Bayview Avenue. Situated on former industrial lands, the park has transformed an underutilized brownfield into a spectacular park and community meeting place featuring a marsh, sprawling lawns, urban prairies, playground areas, a splash pad and a variety of inviting features like a fireplace, permanent barbeque, large communal picnic tables and washrooms.

Built as part of the revitalization of the West Don Lands by Waterfront Toronto, this sophisticated park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. The park offers a diverse range of habitats for a growing population of birds, amphibians and insects. Sustainable maintenance practices contribute to the preservation of capital investments made in the new waterfront public park system, and help to protect the ecological integrity of this complex greenspace. The City's dedicated and qualified staff work in this park to provide specialized organic landscape and turf maintenance. [1]

Corktown Common borders the Canary District, a mixed-use development that initially housed athletes during the 2015 Pan Am/ParaPan Am Games. The park incorporates a raised landform that protects the eastern part of downtown (including the Canary District) from flooding. As disused industrial land, it was possibly contaminated with hazardous waste. Railroad tracks, high-voltage power lines and the Don Valley Parkway sit along its borders. MVVA has transformed the site into a multi-use communal space, re-naturalized with woodlands, meadows and aquatic plants within a variety of microclimates. Planted spaces exist harmoniously beside playgrounds, splash pads and a pavilion by Boston’s Maryann Thompson Architects (MTA)—all of which provide social and recreational zones across varied topographic levels.  

Water used in the play area and rain captured from the pavilion roof are filtered through the wetland to feed irrigation points across the park. The pavilion’s folded roof provides shade while opening up towards the sky. Sliding doors can be pulled close to block wind and snow. A fireplace allows the pavilion to act as a cozy shelter in the winter months and on cool evenings in the shoulder seasons. The park includes a variety of areas, including a wetland that is frequented by waterfowl and migrating birds. Native flora was chosen for use throughout the park, which weaves together natural habitats and recreational zones. [2]


[1]     “Corktown Common.” City of Toronto. Toronto Parks – Forestry and Recreation. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.toronto.ca/data/parks/prd/facilities/complex/3499/index.html.

[2]      Blanthorn, Jon Scott. “Parks and Regeneration: Corktown Common Park and Pavilion, West Don Lands, Toronto, Ontario.” Canadian Architect, June 19, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/parks-and-regeneration/.

Additional information

“Corktown Common Park: Sustainability & Resilience.” Project for Public Spaces. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.pps.org/places/corktown-common-park.

“Corktown Commons.” Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.mvvainc.com/project.php?id=81.

Solano, Laura. “From Wasteland to Parkland: The Making of Corktown Common.” Journal of Green Building 12, no. 4 (2017): 109–40. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.3992/1943-4618.12.4.109 .

Project Title: Corktown Common
Artists: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Place: Toronto, ON

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