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Newly Revitalized Grange Park Opens Today

Fifteen-month project now complete, offering Toronto an inspired and sustainable green space in the City’s core

TORONTO — Grange Park, a two-hectare urban park located behind the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), re-opens to the public today following a community-led, $15 million revitalization project.

This stunning transformation of an inner city green space is the result of an unprecedented partnership and shared vision between the AGO, the City of Toronto, the local community. The project was made possible by the generous support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the City of Toronto. The involvement of other supporting donors has ensured the project’s successful and timely completion, and generated the creation of a special endowment fund that will sustain the park’s maintenance for years to come.

Designed by landscape architect Greg Smallenberg of Vancouver firm PFS Studio—an award-winning Canadian planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm—in response to a vision  created by the local community, the revitalization has strengthened and restored the park’s original beauty and transformed it into an accessible space that is both interactive and ideal for contemplation. The 15-month project was managed by Aldershot Landscaping Contractors.

With an overarching commitment to strengthen and protect the park’s natural beauty, more than 80 new trees were planted to ensure an ongoing mature canopy for future generations. Species include American elm, horse chestnut, beech and oak, among others.

Celebrating the park’s unique location and history, an expanded children’s play area was designed to include customized play equipment in shapes that evoke artistic creativity, such as paint palettes, paint cans and crumpled pieces of paper.

As part of the project, the AGO’s sculpture Large Two Forms by Henry Moore, formerly situated at the southwest corner of McCaul and Dundas Streets, was relocated to the park. The surrounding landscape provides a more natural setting for the sculpture, and allows visitors to view it from all angles and without barriers.

Fourteen inscribed granite paving stones are interspersed in the south path leading north from John and Stephanie Streets. Each paver is engraved with a quotation that relates to nature or the diversity of the community. The local community was invited to submit suggestions and then vote on the final selection of quotations. Quotations were taken from authors, musicians and public figures ranging from Roberta Bondar to Vincent Lam, and Jane Jacobs to Gilles Vigneault.

Other features of the revitalized park and its modern, efficient design include:

  • an expanded great lawn;
  • a pastoral grove area;
  • an off-leash dog park;
  • attractive perennial beds;
  • new washrooms and maintenance building;
  • a sophisticated and sustainable auto-irrigation system;
  • new park furniture and dynamic LED lighting; and
  • interactive and decorative water features.

“Grange Park is now an incredibly welcoming and versatile park that reflects the diversity of its surroundings,” said Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO of the AGO. “I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who came together in an act of community to make this project come to life, and truly believe it’s now the best park in the city.”

“Grange Park has a cherished place in my family’s history. It is just steps away from the original Weston Bakery where my grandfather lived and worked both baking and delivering the bread. While the neighbourhood has changed, the park has been a constant over all these years. I am delighted that our support will ensure its beauty can be enjoyed for generations to come,” said W. Galen Weston.

According to City Councillor Joe Cressy, Trinity-Spadina, "the revitalized Grange Park is simply spectacular. Full stop. Grange Park is more than a neighbourhood park. It will be a destination for residents from across our city and beyond."

The Grange Park neighbours were the catalyst for the project through discussions they began in 2004, leading to the establishment of the Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC) in 2008, with representatives from the AGO, City of Toronto, neighbouring organizations and local residents. GPAC worked with the local community to develop a vision for the revitalization of Grange Park, and kept the community engaged throughout the duration of the project.

“The Grange community will benefit enormously from the revitalization of Grange Park,” said Ralph Daley, President of the Grange Community Association. “This wonderful outcome is due in large part to the dedication and sense of community shown by the residents and institutional representatives on GPAC. Our community thanks you.”

The landmark partnership established by GPAC will continue with the formation of the Grange Park Community Council, establishing the principle of community management to advise on the ongoing maintenance and management of the park. Grange Park continues to be operated by the City of Toronto as a public park and will now employ a full-time caretaker. The City’s annual maintenance funds for Grange Park will be enhanced by proceeds from the AGO’s Grange Park endowment fund.

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ABOUT GRANGE PARK
Grange Park, a two-hectare green space in downtown Toronto, was originally part of the Grange estate built in 1820 by the Boulton family, who played an influential role in developing the young city of Toronto. In 1910, Harriet Boulton Smith bequeathed The Grange house and estate to the newly

founded Art Gallery of Toronto for the purposes of building an art museum on the property. In 1911, the Gallery entered into an agreement with the City of Toronto to operate the land south of Grange House as a public park. This agreement still stands between the AGO and the City, and Grange Park has become a well-loved and well-used gathering place.

SUPPORTERS

The Grange Park Revitalization Project was made possible by:

  • City of Toronto
  • The W. Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Grange Park Advisory Committee

Lead Supporters:

  • The W. Garfield Weston Foundation
  • City of Toronto

Generously supported by:

  • Margaret & Jim Fleck
  • Stewie Gattuso-Slaight
  • TD Bank Group
  • Ivey Foundation

Supported by:

  • J.P. Bickell Foundation
  • T.R Meighen Family Foundation

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

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For high-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

Caitlin Coull; Associate Director, Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 364, caitlin_coull@ago.net

 

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