The Bentway – formerly known as Project: Under the Gardener
2017 will see the opening of the first phase of The Bentway formerly known as Project: Under the Gardener. The name was derived from public consultation and comes from “the bents” or column-and-beam structures that frame the space under the Gardiner Expressway. The project will transform the 1.75 kilometer (or 1 mile) of unloved and underused space underneath the highway (known as the Gardiner Expressway) between Strachan and Spadina Avenues. This will become a continuous walking and cycling path alongside spaces for public markets and cultural spaces for performances. The project is being funded by private donors Judy and Wilmot who have donated $25 million for this project with the first phase to be completed for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations on July 1, 2017.
The first installation will include an interim event spaces near Strachan avenue connecting Fort York Boulevard via a series of gathering spaces and gardens. By the end of 2018 the 10 acres stretching from Strachan to Spadina will be transformed into dozens of unique public spaces for concerts, public art installations, markets, informal sports courts, spaces for cultural programming, as well as a pedestrian and cycling trail.
Donor Judy Matthews also envisioned “a long, linear pathway that will be 1.75 km long, going from Spadina Avenue to Strachan Avenue with a bridge over Fort York Boulevard and a grand staircase at the Strachan end that will double as seating for an urban theatre.”
The Bentway Conservancy, a not-for-profit organization has been established to manage and maintain the project. It will oversee the programming for year-round performances and programming spaces with all kinds of activities such as; chamber orchestras, dance competitions, experimental theatre, arts festivals, farmers’ markets and perhaps even a skating rink in the winter.
The goal of this project is to re-define an underused space and create a place for people to gather which links the neighborhoods’ from the north and south. Thank you, July and Wilmot Matthews for this beautiful gift to the city of Toronto, its residents and visitors. Perhaps it should have called it the golden mile!