Waterfront Toronto announced the opening of Corktown Commons over the Canada Day long weekend. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, this dual-purpose public park by the foothills of River Street will function both as a recreational, natural-living space as well as a storm-water management system. In light of recent natural disasters, Corktown Commons is an important development for Toronto’s safe keeping. While last Friday’s temporary road closures on Lake Shore Blvd. were incomparable to the flooding currently overwhelming Western Canada, this year’s temperamental weather is a threat to our city nonetheless, which is why this $135-million project is a well-rounded investment.
Corktown Commons’ Landscape
Corktown Commons is abundant in wildlife and greenery; there are over 700 trees and thousands of shrubs included in this Carolinian Forest ecosystem. Due to the fact the design of the park was heavily influenced by the flood protection plan, the landscape is divided in two. To the west, there are open fields, hilltops, and a vast wetland overlooked by a modern pavilion in view of the Pan Am Games Village. To the east, Corktown Common’ landscape slopes into a 3.2 hectare prairie, intended to minimize flooding in the area. Over the course of the entire park, winding trails and bike paths have been carved-out for visitors to walk along and enjoy the great outdoors in Toronto.
Flood Water Prevention
Toronto has seen its fair share of flooding over the years: In 1954, Hurricane Hazel devastated the Etobicoke community, leaving 81 people dead and $1-billion in property damages. Already this year, our city has experienced two temporary floods that have disrupted downtown traffic and threatened our community. Based on statistics from 2005, 85% of the Don Valley watershed is impermeable, which means that the majority of water from a heavy rainfall remains unabsorbed. With the introduction of Corktown Commons, its clay, rock, and soil foundation not only serves as a vat for run-off water to escape to, but it can also withstand flood water up 1,680 cm; this protects Toronto from the threat of a “500-year storm”. This year’s multi-million dollar investment is only the beginning: Corktown Commons has opened up an array of opportunities for further flood protection systems in Toronto.
Images courtesy of Waterfront Toronto.