Bentway Staging Grounds opens on September 18

August 22, 2023

Join us on September 18 at the public opening of Bentway Staging Grounds, a temporary public space under the Gardiner Expressway at Dan Leckie Way that explores new ways to leverage stormwater runoff from the highway to support urban ecology. Be one of the first to experience it!

Discover the neighbourhood’s new experimental gardens, leveraging rainwater run-off from the highway above to feed flowering plant species below. How can the Expressway work in collaboration with urban nature?

Be one of the first to experience Bentway Staging Grounds! Meet the design team, chat with native plant experts, and mingle with Bentway staff and local community residents at the public opening of Bentway Staging Grounds on September 18. Meet us at 10:30am, with remarks at 11am from our local City Councillor, Ausma Malik.

Also featuring:
– Free plant giveaways from Jomo Studio for the first 50 attendees
– Sweet treats from The Pop Stand for the first 100 attendees
– Musical entertainment from the Heavyweights Brass Band

It’s also the first chance to see Logan MacDonald’s Fountain Monumental, an artwork presented on 20-foot-tall scaffolding and produced in collaboration with AI to re-imagine the original shoreline of Lake Ontario, which traced the same path as the Gardiner Expressway today.

Following the recent opening of projects at York Street and Simcoe Street, Bentway Staging Grounds is a continuation of The Bentway’s creative work along the Gardiner Expressway. A team led by Tei Carpenter (Agency—Agency, NYC) and Reza Nik (SHEEEP, Toronto) designed new experimental gardens that collect and cleanse rain water from the highway above to feed the growth of flowering native plants below.

Bentway Staging Grounds is a new type of infrastructure that blends art and environment, public space and experimentation, repositioning the Gardiner as a site of regeneration. Visitors are invited onto a network of elevated walkways to discover resilient strategies for filtration and flood mitigation (strategies that could one day be applied across the length of the Gardiner).

Bentway Staging Grounds responds to the dynamic conditions below the Gardiner, transforming the space into a living laboratory. The project continues The Bentway’s ongoing work to reposition the Expressway and unlock its creative potential, by revealing the ways in which the existing structure can be leveraged to support new connections, sustainability, and public benefit.

Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director of The Bentway

Designed by Agency—Agency (NYC) and SHEEEP (Toronto), with engineering by Buro Happold, graphic design by Neil Donnelly Studio, and horticultural consulting by Brother Nature, Bentway Staging Grounds uses the Gardiner’s water runoff system to divert rain and melted snow to support the growth of diverse, flowering native plants such as milkweed, agastache and yarrow. These salt-absorbing plant species and passive water filtration helps to reduce the risk of local flooding, creating a new urban infrastructure that works in collaboration with nature.

“It’s a privilege working with The Bentway on Staging Grounds to think creatively about the city’s infrastructure and to center the design of water in the public’s daily experience,” says Tei Carpenter of Agency—Agency. Notes Reza Nik of SHEEEP: “We’re really excited to share this project with the city and to see how an underutilized part of our infrastructure can be actively and passively used throughout the year.”

“We continue to partner with The Bentway under the Gardiner to improve the north-south connections to the water,” says Tim Kocur, Executive Director of the Waterfront BIA. “The waterfront neighbourhood is delighted to invite visitors to discover Staging Grounds’ experimental gardens and their strategies for filtration and flood mitigation.”

Over the project’s two-year duration, The Bentway will commission artists to present original, rotating artworks on a series of scaffolding towers set to line the site facing Lake Shore Boulevard.


Contextual map showing Bentway Staging Grounds, in relation to Bentway sites and concurrent projects along the Gardiner.


  • Manulife
  • Waterfront BIA
  • Anonymous
  • CityPlace and Fort York BIA
  • Maxine Granovsky Gluskin and Ira Gluskin
  • The Bentway’s growing family of friends and supporters

Special thanks to the City of Toronto.