In New York City, an elevated freight rail lane in west Manhattan became the High Line, a celebrated linear park running through a busy part of the borough. Design firm Workshop Architecture hopes that one of Toronto’s hydro corridors can be similarly transformed into a continuous recreation area for Toronto’s pedestrians and cyclists, and that an international contest soliciting ideas for the space will help hasten the process.
The corridor in question is a strip of grass, more than five kilometres long and filled with massive hydro towers (like the one in the picture at the top of this post). It connects several neighbourhoods in the city, from the Annex to Davenport. These, according to Helena Grdadolnik, Workshop Architecture’s associate director, are areas that lack the park space that other parts of Toronto enjoy.
Right now, the City licenses space from Hydro One for eight separate small, unconnected parks along the corridor. Last year, Toronto’s parks department invited area residents to give input on an upgrade for one of those parks. This led Grdadolnik to think that it may be time for a larger vision for the entire corridor.
An electricity corridor may not seem like the ideal spot for a park, but Grdadolnik thinks that with the right plan, it could happen. “I thought it would be great for the communities along this route to be galvanized to input into a full vision for this area, as one linear park,” she said. “I also thought it was important to extend beyond the green strip of the electricity infrastructure and include the sidewalks and streets adjacent to this corridor in any future planning. My office and home are nearby, and I see many people using this corridor as a shortcut to the grocery store, but it is broken up by streets that are hard to cross, and by fences and steep grade changes.”