Corktown Common

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Corktown Common
Location West Don Lands
Area 7.3 hectares (18 acres)
Created Waterfront Toronto
Operated by Toronto Parks
Open 2013

Corktown Common is a park in the south eastern portion of the West Don Lands neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada which opened in 2013. It borders the Don River to the east. It was built on remediated industrial lands to be the centrepiece of a new emerging neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. It also provides a barrier to flooding from the Don River.


Area history[edit]

The West Don Lands, including what is now the Corktown Common, was once an industrialized area, once notably occupied by the pork processing plants of the William Davies Company. The deindustrialization of the 1970s saw most of the land abandoned. In 1987, the West Don Lands was expropriated by the provincial government in order to build a new community. The industrial history meant the soil was highly polluted and needed expensive cleanup before any residents could live there. The risk of flooding from the Don River also required a flood barrier to be erected. By 1992 the city and province had already invested some $350 million in purchasing and clearing the site, and new estimates put the final cost at more than a billion more. The real estate market had also collapsed, making any private investment unlikely. The new provincial government of Bob Rae thus decided to cancel the project in 1992 and the West Don Lands was left deserted for the next 15 years.

Park history[edit]

Corktown Common July 2013

The park was built on an abandoned post-industrial site and is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of the West Don Lands by Waterfront Toronto. The West Don Lands was a brownfield site in the flood plain of the Don River that required soil remediation and flood protection before any development could occur. The Corktown Common's berm is a flood protection landform which was started in 2007 and was necessary before any other development of the West Don Lands could occur.

The Corktown Common was a 135 million dollar project and it is a hilly park with pathways and prairie grasses, overlooking the mouth of the Don River, which doubles as a 8.5 m (28 ft)-high berm designed to protect the eastern downtown from a major flood, even a 500-year storm by shunting potential flood waters south toward the lake.[1] Its name before it opened was the Don River Park.

The park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and opened with over 700 trees and thousands of shrubs and grasses that are native to Southern Ontario's Carolinian forest ecosystem.

The park contains playgrounds, a splash pad, an athletic field, open lawns, a marsh, tables, benches, a barbecue, a fireplace, bike paths, a boardwalk and an off-leash dog area. There is a public art sculpture titled No Shoes by Mark di Suvero. On the river side of the park, there is a 3.2 hectare (7.9 acre) urban prairie.

The Corktown Common is located east of Bayview Avenue, south of King Street, west of GO/CN railroad lines and the Don River to the rail corridor in the south. There is also an entrance from the Don Valley Trail.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lorinc, John (28 June 2013). "New Toronto park doubles as flood protection". Toronto, Ontario: The Globe and Mail. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°39′14″N 79°21′08″W / 43.653965°N 79.352101°W / 43.653965; -79.352101