Ok, I’m impressed. Have you seen Sherbourne Common? If you haven’t, I suggest that you check it out. This is the most recent project to be unveiled as part of Toronto’s ambitious waterfront development plan, better known as the “New Blue Edge”, a work-in-progress that entails 800 hectares of land along Toronto’s waterfront.
Designed by landscape architects Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Sherbourne Common is an example of how critical infrastructure – in this case a neighbourhood storm water treatment facility – can be fully integrated into a neighbourhood. The brilliant part is that the facility doubles as an elegant public space where current and future residents of the planned East Bay Front community will be able to gather, play and interact.
Below the Common is the storm water treatment facility while above ground, the Common is complete with public art in the form of three 9 meter high arms from which treated water cascades into a channel before entering Lake Ontario, a splash pad that turns into a
skating rink, a playground, seating areas, a green space and a building that will soon house a café.
The ingenious design turns infrastructure, commonly considered to be a necessary evil by most urbanists, into a public amenity. Since when have you heard that a water treatment plant will draw people to a neighbourhood and raise property values?
As a planner who has spent the better part of the last two years working alongside engineers to develop water and wastewater infrastructure in the Greater Toronto Area in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, Sherbourne Common is an inspiration!
For another example of infrastructure doubling as public amenity, you can read more about River Bank State Park in the Hamilton Heights neighbourhood of New York City.
Andrzej Schreyer , R.P.P. is a senior land use and environmental planner with Hardy Stevenson and Associates and a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners. His experience includes developing and implementing public participation and communications plans, managing social impact assessments and land use studies in support of infrastructure projects and preparing community-based strategic plans.