A new downtown Toronto park with a massive heart-shaped pond is officially open and more than a thousand people turned out for the occasion.
Love Park, on York Street and Queens Quay, opened Friday afternoon. The two-acre or 8,000 square metres park — one of three waterfront development projects to be completed this year— features cafe-style tables, nine bronze-cast animals and an off-leash area for dogs
City councillor for Ward 10, Ausma Malik, said the park is a step toward making Toronto greener.
“What we see here is something that is just going to be transformative for our downtown,” she told CBC Toronto. “We have a huge deficit in our downtown of green and public spaces and we need to be expanding that and this is an incredible step in that direction.”
The space was formerly the York-Bay-Yonge eastbound off-ramp of the Gardiner Expressway, which was reclaimed for public use. Construction began in July 2021.
CCxA, a landscape architecture and urban design company based in Montreal, won an international design competition in 2018, which led to design of the park.
“We wanted to create something that would be bold,” said Claude Cormier, the project’s landscape architect.
He said the purpose of the large body of water and trees surrounding it was to create an attractive oasis in the middle of the city where people would linger and spend time.
The design team preserved the northern catalpa centre tree and built the pond around it. On Friday, the tree bloomed just in time for the event, said city workers.
“I don’t think anybody’s really ever appreciated this tree until today,” Marc Hallé, also a landscape architect for the project.
The city’s budget for Love Park was $15 million. Another $2.7 million was invested to finish Leslie Lookout Park and $19.1 million for One Yonge Community Recreation Centre. Both are expected to be complete this year.
Randall Craig lives in the neighborhood and welcomed the park’s opening.
“We’ve seen it become totally transformed from a a busy, noisy, unkept block,” he said.
Irene Phillips, who lives across the street from the park, said she couldn’t believe the park was finally “a done deal.”
“They promised they would leave us five trees that we would still be able to admire. I’m looking at the trees, I’m looking at the park, I’m looking at the people. I’m meeting neighbours … I think this is all wonderful.”