Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan approved by City Council

April 11, 2024

Over the last 2 years, The Bentway and the City of Toronto have collaborated on a comprehensive vision for underutilized public spaces below and adjacent to the Gardiner Expressway, from Dufferin to the DVP. In April 2024, City Council endorsed the plan. Over the coming year work will continue to realize this exciting vision.

The Gardiner Expressway is a defining feature of Toronto’s landscape. As the City of Toronto works to rehabilitate the elevated expressway and bring new life to surrounding communities, there is an opportunity to reimagine how this piece of infrastructure can connect, perform, and inspire. 

The Bentway’s Phase 1 site was just the beginning. 

Now, The Bentway and City turn to the Gardiner’s full elevated length, from Dufferin to the DVP, to explore new opportunities for public space, linear trail connections, safer pedestrian intersections, and more. The Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan (PRP) was developed with input from many City divisions and The Bentway, and through extensive public consultation.   

The full recommendations report and consultation summary are available on the Under Gardiner Public Realm Plan website.

Aerial rendering by PUBLIC WORK

“Council approval of The Under Gardiner PRP represents a collective acknowledgement of the importance and potential of spaces below the Gardiner Expressway. Together with the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario, we are excited to play a key role in ensuring the plan informs and supports future development of the expressway from end-to-end.”

Robert McKaye, Senior Manager of Planning and Design at The Bentway.  

The New Baseline
The PRP provides the vision for a new “baseline” of streetscape elements that guide the development of a cohesive public realm under the highway at ground-level. This includes standards for amenities such as pedestrian lighting, public wi-fi, accessible seating, wayfinding and public art.  

Site Specific Recommendations
The PRP additionally recommends key projects along the corridor, respond to the unique needs, contexts and opportunities along the Gardiner’s length. Further study is required to confirm the details of these projects, their feasibility and to integrate further public input.   

With City Council’s endorsement now complete, the next step includes the formation of an interdivisional working group with representation from various City departments, The Bentway, and the Province of Ontario. The group will work collaboratively to develop an implementation strategy for the plan, including a prioritization framework and funding strategy.  

Development of the Under Gardiner PRP was led by the Benway Conservancy in partnership with the City of Toronto, along with an integrated team of urban designers, architects, climate engineers, and consultation experts.  

Special thanks to The Bentway’s supporters on this project: