A major element of the Grange Green Plan is the proposed creation of Relic Park, an ambitious, two-phase project to knit together a currently disjointed part of the public realm along four streets in the Grange neighbourhood. Phase I of the linear park, will zigzag from Campbell House on Queen St., north on Simcoe St., then across Michael Sweet Ave. Phase I will extend the existing 2018 installation of stone fragments in the Campbell House grounds northward, and create a substantial new pedestrian zone in the downtown core. Phase II will continue up St. Patrick St. and west along Dundas Ave. to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Phase II will be implemented as condominium developments are constructed on St. Patrick and Dundas Streets.
Relic Park is an innovative approach to public-realm enhancement. It envisions architectural relics from Toronto’s past set within a unifying corridor of green. Conceived as a linear park with parkettes and focal points, the project will see carved stone fragments, long ago rescued from demolished buildings, skillfully combined within a restored natural environment. Creating green boulevards not only beautifies the streetscape, but provides wildlife connectivity between park spaces, increases and enhances the tree canopy and local ecology, supports pollinator populations, reduces street level temperatures, and increases permeable surfaces for rain water absorption.
The City of Toronto has agreed to provide these (de-accessioned) architectural stone fragments – column sections, keystones, window decorations, bas-reliefs and other sculptural elements to re-purpose as installations and benches – all currently stored at the Guild Park and Gardens in Scarborough.
The project is a partnership between the GCA and Campbell House Museum, two entities experienced in community partnerships and committed to public realm improvement. The route of Relic Park lies in two City Wards, so continuing support from Councillor Cressy (Ward 10) and Councillor Layton (Ward 11) will be sought. Councillor Cressy secured approval of The Grange Green Plan by Toronto and East York Community Council in 2018, of which Relic Park is a key component, and the City is committed to assist in planning and implementation. Funds have been committed by Councillor Cressy, Campbell House Museum and the Queen St. West BIA, and the GCA has applied to Park People’s Public Space Incubator (PSI) initiative for further funding.
Although at an early stage of the project, the GCA has conducted extensive due diligence and planning to move the initiative forward. A “Prospectus” is being developed that defines the vision, objectives and goals for Relic Parkand sets out the project’srationale and character, identifying stakeholders and mapping a phasing strategy, costs and resources.
Initial funding will be used to complete planning and to construct a pilot installation in the animation zone on Simcoe St near Queen St, which will serve as an icon at the southern terminus of Relic Park, so as to showcase the park’s purpose and story. The relic stones will be installed by professional heritage contractors who specialize in stone masonry.
The initial implementation phase will:
- Procure the services of a landscape architect and structural engineer to design the pilot installation
- Procure professional planning services to coordinate with the City
- Construct and implement the pilot
- Plan and promote the unveiling of the pilot initiative in 2020