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Illustration of Toronto's Downsview Park future redevelopment plan
|Location||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Area||2.4 km2 (0.93 sq mi)|
|Governing body||Parc Downsview Park Inc.|
Downsview Park (French: Parc Downsview) is a park in the community of Downsview in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that first was home to de Havilland Canada, later also a Canadian Forces Base. It contains about 231.5 hectares (572 acres), of which more than 130 hectares (320 acres) are earmarked for traditional parkland, recreational and cultural amenities. As the mandate for the park requires that it be developed on a self-financing basis, approximately 102 hectares (250 acres) are dedicated to opportunities that provide a revenue stream to finance the construction, development and management of Downsview Park as an integrated, sustainable community.
The property has been the site of several high-profile events, including two Papal visits by Pope John Paul II, in 1984 (while still an active military base) and 2002 (World Youth Day), as well as the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert in 2003 featuring The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and many others. The Canadian music festival Edgefest has also called Downsview Park home for the last two years[when?] with Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots, The Sam Roberts Band, Billy Talent, AFI, Alexisonfire and Metric performing. Edgefest returned to the park in 2011 and will be a featured event again in 2012.[dated info] The Tragically Hip performed to a crowd of approximately 30,000 on Canada Day 2011. On 16 June 2012, the stage lighting collapsed an hour before gates opened for a scheduled sold-out Radiohead concert, killing one person and injuring at least three others.
Downsview and Wilson subway stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line are both near Downsview Park on its eastern edge; the future Downsview Park subway station will be located at the Park's north end.
In 1999, the Parc Downsview Park announced an International Design Competition in attempt to turn Downsview Park into an urban park, and potentially one of the largest ones in the world, in which Bruce Mau Design, Rem Koolhaas, Oleson Worland, and Petra Blaisse submitted the winning design scheme, known as "Tree City." Parc Downsview Park has since come up with a new plan to construct commercial and residential developments instead.
Downsview Park is designed to support environmental, social and economic sustainability. The vision for the park is the creation of a recreational space incorporating expansive open space areas, as well as the repurposing of an inventory of historic aviation-related buildings to create a year-round setting.
Downsview Park is a model development demonstrating sustainable practices in its design, construction, operation and maintenance. It is intended to be a recreational, educational and cultural amenity for all Canadians; a diverse, healthy and livable community for its occupants, visitors and neighbours; and an educational demonstration project of international significance.
In addition to creating a unique park on the majority of the lands, portions of the property will be developed to facilitate creating and maintaining Downsview Park. More than $20 million has been spent to date on construction, improvements to infrastructure and renovations of older buildings.
The investment that Downsview Park is making in the public realm will have a significant impact well beyond its 231.5 hectares (572 acres)—job creation, increased real estate values, social and cultural engagement and numerous environmental benefits are all a direct result of the work being performed in the creation of the Park. Over the next year,[when?] an additional $20 million will be invested on a series of projects, all geared toward opening up the urban park in the summer of 2012 along with more facilities for the Downsview Park Sports Centre and infrastructure for the Stanley Greene neighbourhood.
Downsview Park consists of 231.5 hectares (572 acres) of land in the northwest portion of the City of Toronto and the geographic centre of the Greater Toronto Area. These lands were originally home to de Havilland Aircraft of Canada (1929-1947) and then as the air force base CFB Downsview from 1947 until April 1, 1996, when the base closed. It was also announced that the lands were to be held in perpetuity and in trust as a "unique urban recreational green space for the enjoyment of future generations." The mandate to create the urban recreational green space was given to Parc Downsview Park Inc. (PDP) in 1996 and the title to 231.5 hectares (572 acres) of the Downsview Lands was transferred to PDP in 2006 in order to facilitate the development of Downsview Park. The Department of National Defence (DND) retained 29 hectares (72 acres) of the land to accommodate ongoing military needs. Approximately 150 hectares (370 acres) of the land adjacent to the Downsview Lands (including Toronto’s oldest operational airport) is under the jurisdiction of Bombardier Aerospace. A rail line that is used mostly by GO Transit trains runs through the centre of the Park.
The Downsview Park Sports Centre is a 45,000-square-metre (485,000-square-feet) multi-purpose facility, formerly an aircraft hangar for the de Havilland Aircraft Company and later the Canadian Forces. Downsview Park's most regular attraction is The Hangar, an indoor recreational facility within the Downsview Park Sports Centre, which accommodates approximately 600,000 visitors per year to its soccer, ball hockey and beach volleyball facilities alone. Winter 2011 saw the welcome addition of a domed field, expanding winter field availability. During the summer of 2009, Toronto Roller Derby started playing their home games at Downsview, using a space in the Downsview Park Sports Centre's west end. In the summer of 2011, Toronto Roller Derby moved to another space in the Park known as The Bunker, and hosted the inaugural Roller Derby World Cup in that space in early December 2011. The Downsview Park Sports Centre also accommodates Grand Prix Kartways indoor electric go-karting (aka green go-karting), the HoopDome basketball facility, The Rail Skatepark skateboard destination, True North Climbing indoor rock climbing gym and Premier Elite Athlete’s Collegiate (PEAC) school for elite athletes. The National Squash Academy, operated by former World #1 player Jonathon Power is a recent addition to the Sports Centre.
In March 2011, Downsview Park was selected as the site of Toronto FC's new state-of-the-art Academy and Training Facility. Construction began on the KIA Training Ground in May 2011, and the facility opened in June 2012. It includes three grass fields, one domed turf field and a field house. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), owner of Toronto FC, spent more than $21 million building the facility and pays rent for the land, with an aim to becoming the epicentre of soccer development in Canada. As of 2014, MLSE is considering expanding the facility to house a practice field for the Toronto Argonauts. It has been reported that the team will move in on August 11, 2014.
Volleyball Canada made the Downsview Park Sports Centre their new headquarters and training facility in 2011. A new four-pad ice complex will be another welcome amenity scheduled to open in 2013.
Operations at the Downsview Park Sports Centre generate funds to help build Downsview Park. The Downsview Park Sports Centre is growing to become the leading centre of athletic excellence in the Greater Toronto Area as the development of the Downsview Park sustainable community progresses. Downsview Park continues to pursue its vision to become a nationally recognized centre for sporting excellence and participation.
Downsview Park is also home to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, the Downsview Park Film and Television Studios and the Downsview Park Arts Alliance, all of which not only pay rent to assist PDP in meeting its self-financing requirements, but also help to animate the site with a variety of programs and activities, many of which are run in partnership with PDP. A large warehouse known as the Supply Depot, located at 40 Carl Hall Road, is used as a farmer's market and movie studio, and Doors Open Toronto tours have been conducted there. In addition to lease based partners/tenants, Downsview Park plays host to a variety of other community partnership. There are urban agriculture groups actively producing food crops, a large collection of hives from a local bee hive association and ongoing community tree planting and environmental stewardship programs through groups like Evergreen.
The initial phase of the construction of Downsview Park began in 2005. The first step was to regenerate the soil, which had been compacted by more than 50 years of military base use, so that it will again support the lush vegetation that is planned for a very significant portion of the site. A major feature of this initial work was the development of the Canada Forest, which was started with a partnership with Natural Resources Canada and its 2020 Fast Forest initiative. The planting of a forest within an urban setting actualizes one of the compelling images embodied in the Tree City design.
In 2010, as a result of an in-depth Request for Proposal process to find developers interested in working with Downsview Park to implement the vision for the Stanley Greene neighbourhood, the Park is now in a position to move forward with plans to create this community.
Several residential developers expressed interest in Stanley Greene. Urbancorp was chosen as the first residential developer by Parc Downsview Park (PDP) after an extensive due diligence process. The first residential development phase at Downsview Park will comprise over 1000 homes. Urbancorp is the largest landowner and developer of residential communities in King West Village and the Queen Street West Triangle area in downtown Toronto. Construction of the new community “Neighbourhood of Downsview Park” is expected to begin in fall of 2012.[dated info]
As evident by the equipment and continuous activity at the north end of the park, the new Downsview Park intermodal TTC subway/GO Transit station construction is well underway. More than 50,000 cubic metres of soil have been excavated and moved to make way for subway tunneling. Much of the excavated soil is being kept for reuse within the park.
The Circuit Path is the park’s primary circulation system, at almost 3 km long it is designed to guide visitors through its wooded areas and meadows and along the lake’s edge. A pedestrian bridge over a bioswale was installed and paving, lighting and seating will be completed by spring 2012.[dated info] Details of the trails, materials and slopes were designed to incorporate the present and future elements of the site.
For hundreds of teachers and parents across the Greater Toronto Area, Downsview Park has established itself as a valuable and respected educational and recreational resource for children and youth. The Park’s sustainability-focused, curriculum-based free school programs currently provide more than 16,000 students—from Peel to York to Durham—an opportunity to meaningfully connect with their natural environment. As with all of the Park’s education programs, each relies on the rich natural and cultural heritage of Downsview Park including some of the Park’s tenants on site such as Fresh City Farms and the Toronto Beekeepers Co-op. Downsview Park also offers its popular Summer Dayz Camp for children aged six to 12 years, as well as a March Break camp. New to March Break camp in 2011 was a program created for youth aged 13-15 years of age—Leadership Camp, designed to help young teens develop valuable leadership skills. Campers enjoy natural, cultural and recreational attractions unique to Downsview Park, with day camp themes including nature, art, science, great outdoors, sports and leadership. As with the Park’s free education programs, many of the tenants of Downsview Park were involved with camp programming.
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