Mayor Watson came in for a huge dump of criticism for the design and rebuild of Lansdowne Park. But his vision was right, he withstood the onslaught, and the resulting urban fabric is quite nice.
When I tell people I like Lansdowne, I get one of those twisted face emoticons of dislike almost automatically. So I always follow up by asking if they’ve been there recently.
Usually, the answer is a “wouldn’t be caught dead there” claim, followed by an admission that they were in fact there “but not regularly” and that it was still awful. Or at least underwhelming.
I get the same response to LeBreton Flats.
Get out of your air conditioned house and car now that cooler walking and cycling weather is here, a go walk about both places. I covered a bit of LeBreton a few weeks back: https://www.westsideaction.ca/wandering-around…-to-claridgeland/
On Saturday past, I went to Lansdowne. It was busy with real people doing real things:
There were a number of pleasantly busy outdoor patios with permanent gazebos and patio amenities, special events to draw in non-locals, and despite what I had heard, not every tree was dead:
The landscaped ped areas looked bleak last year, but now the shrubs have grown in and the gardens look inviting and totally world class:
And yes, I have been there mid-week when it was a lot quieter, and the streets looked still too wide. Presumably some of this is due to some space not being occupied yet. And I don’t expect a large project like this to fill out to maturity instantly. Some tenants will move in, move out. Some businesses will fail. But it won’t be the colossal failure that our bureaucrats made of urban renewal in the 60’s and 80’s.
I couldn’t but help looking at this view and wondering if it wouldn’t be better if that squat black building in the empty centre …
… was the podium for a 20 or 40 storey pencil-thin condo tower.
Before you send me hate mail, do recall that the much-lauded Distillery District in big Toronto has some super tall residential towers right tight in amongst the low rise, to generate daily activity to the space so it doesn’t become just a special-events place or tourist check point.
Mayor Jim would feel right a home here… with conspicuous overhead wiring we won’t bury because it might reduce the profits sucked out of the local electrical utility, rising energy poverty levels be dammed:
At Lansdowne, the playground was innovative and busy. The green grassy slope was entertaining kids at an even cheaper cost. The park benches and intensely planted green spaces are every bit as nice as NYC’s High Line but without the billion dollar price tag. The shops appeared as busy as Bayshore did the previous evening when I ventured out there.
So, an A for Jim Watson on Lansdowne Park, for placemaking, for converting a shit-ugly parking lot with urban fabric, with the presumption that it will get even better as more spaces are occupied and the place becomes a regular stop in our life cycle.