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Designing the Urban Park and William G. Davis Trail at Ontario Place

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Designing the Urban Park and William G. Davis Trail at Ontario Place

The creation of the urban park and William G. Davis Trail is an important first step in revitalizing Ontario Place. The park and trail are part of the vision to transform approximately 7.5 acres of the east island into a vibrant public green space and waterfront destination.

The design by LANDinc and West 8 is inspired by Ontario's landscapes, natural materials and native species. It also reflects the ideas shared by Ontarians during public consultations.

The William G. Davis Trail will link to an existing trail system that includes the Martin Goodman Trail as well as the Pan Am/Parapan Am Trails, a continuous route of more than 2,000 kilometres along the Trans Canada Trail in Ontario.

Public Consultation

Ideas from Ontarians have been a key element in the design of the park and trail. From December 2013 to March 2014, the province held in-person and online public consultations on the park and trail design. The final space will reflect many of those ideas. 

Park Features

Once complete, the park and trail will provide access to this part of the waterfront for the first time in more than 40 years, offering residents and visitors a place to relax and enjoy panoramic views of the city and lake.

  • The William G. Davis Trail is a continuous waterfront trail that will weave through the park and link the upper and lower areas to the water's edge and the city.
  • The ravine will be the gateway to the park. Developed in collaboration with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, its walls will celebrate First Nations' heritage and culture with an impression of the Moccasin Identifier, a visual reminder to recognize and honour their heritage.
  • In addition, three marker trees - a traditional First Nations' tool of navigation - will be planted along the upper trail of the park to guide and direct visitors to the summit. These types of trees are created by shaping saplings to grow and mark directions or significant locations in the landscape. Park visitors will be able to return year after year to observe their growth and progress.
  • The lower trail will emerge in the garden, offering visitors a place to rest or play. The sculpted open space will feature smooth shaped rocks, or alvars, and an open-air pavilion.
  • The William G. Davis Trail will continue along the rocky beach and boardwalk, where visitors will be able to access the water's edge to enjoy the lake and views of the Toronto harbour and skyline. A fire pit will be nestled along the rocky beach for evening bonfires.
  • The bluff adjacent to the boardwalk will be a scramble of boulders and rocks designed for play, offering an informal climbing route from the boardwalk in the lower park to the upper park. A long communal sitting area in the bluff will be a place for resting and enjoying the lake views.
  • The upper park, with its evergreen trees, will create a natural shelter from the lake's winds. The upper trail will meander through the area and the rising landscape will provide unlimited vistas of the lake and city.
  • Located at the southern tip of the park, the summit will be the highest elevation in the park. Visitors will be able to sit and gather on its slopes and take in the panoramic views.

Design Team 

LANDinc and West 8, working in partnership, were selected as the successful team to design the new urban park and waterfront trail at Ontario Place. 

LANDinc's extensive experience includes local and international projects, such as parks, open spaces, trails, streetscapes, urban design, ecological restoration and world-class waterfronts. The firm was involved in the design and implementation of Tommy Thompson Park on Toronto's waterfront, as well as projects across Canada, including the Parliament West Sector Area Master Plan for Parliament Hill in Ottawa and the Never Forgotten National War Memorial in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  

West 8 has extensive experience in large-scale urban master planning and design, landscape developments, waterfront projects, parks, squares and gardens. West 8 has designed renowned parks and public spaces in major cities around the world, including Governors Island Park in New York and Jubilee Park in London, United Kingdom. In Toronto, West 8 has designed the award-winning WaveDecks and the central waterfront plan now under construction along the waterfront. It is also a member of the design team that recently won the Innovative Design Competition for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park.  

Working Collaboratively

The province is working closely with its project partners, Infrastructure Ontario and Waterfront Toronto, to achieve excellence in the design of the new urban park and William G. Davis Trail at Ontario Place. 

Infrastructure Ontario is responsible for delivering and managing the park and trail project, which includes oversight for design and construction procurements, implementing the environmental assessment, and project management during the construction phase.

Waterfront Toronto was engaged by Infrastructure Ontario to leverage their expertise in delivering beautiful parks and public spaces along Toronto's waterfront. Waterfront Toronto is managing the design process and public consultations. Since 2004, Waterfront Toronto has opened or improved 25 parks and public spaces on Toronto's waterfront.

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