From floating parks to bike trails, these developments will benefit the planet - and the mental health of Torontonians - for generations.
The grass in Toronto will indeed be greener on the other side of this crisis. Though still in development, plans to reopen the city are currently being drafted. And the city will no doubt be ready to celebrate. Society’s wariness for being in tight crowds will probably move parties to the city’s green spaces, each of them set to play a big role in healing a citizenry longing to re-engage the world outside.
“Nature can have a profound healing power, allowing us to stave off depression and reflect on life,” says Steve Joordens, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. Indeed, studies have shown that even short amounts of time in the great outdoors can reduce stress and anxiety and help improve focus and creativity. “What’s more, creating and enjoying new green spaces is a great way to inspire social action, particularly as it relates to climate change,” Joordens says.
In the coming months and years, Canada’s largest city is set to unveil a treasure chest of developments that will nurture both the earth and people’s mental health. From floating parks to bike trails, here are some of the green projects that residents of Toronto will be able to enjoy when things go back to (some kind of) normal.
Villiers Island: Lake Ontario’s artificial oasis
Generally, if you want an island to show up, you need to pitch your tent by an active volcano or wait millions of years for Mother Nature to do her thing. These days in Toronto, you just do it yourself. A 30 minute walk from downtown, Villiers Island is an 88 acre artificial landmass that, when finished, will be one of the city’s most green communities, and also a flood guard for the city’s waterfront.
Rail Deck Park: a floating utopia in the downtown core
The 20 acre Rail Deck Park is one of the most ambitious public-space projects in Canadian history. Essentially a giant bridge, the park will unite about a half dozen neighbourhoods, and be reserved exclusively for parks and open space.
The Loop Trail: 81 kilometres of cycling bliss
Toronto has been described as “San Francisco turned upside down” — where the latter has hills, the former has a ravine system representing 17 percent of the city’s area. And now, a new 81 km bike path is set to be a new network for lovers of the outdoors. Named the Loop Trail, this new feature will connect five ravine areas, 22 neighbourhoods, the Humber and Don River ravine systems and the waterfront.
Bike Share Toronto expansion: sustainable spin comes to the suburbs
Once a bush-league operation compared to Montreal’s renowned Bixi system, Bike Share Toronto has blossomed into a staple of the city’s transit fabric, with more than 5,000 bikes, 465 stations and an annual ridership of close to 2.5 million. The project has been such a success that 2020 expansion is well underway, bringing new service to five more wards with kilometre coverage increasing by 50 percent.
Trudeau’s two billion trees: breathing new life into urban living
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to plant more than two billion trees across Canada over the next decade, in addition to the roughly 600 million planted every year. Carbon-eating, affordable and self-recycling, reforestation is a relatively easy way to combat climate change, with studies suggesting that one trillion trees could be planted worldwide without affecting existing farmland and urban areas.
More good news for the environment:
10 Billion Tree-Planting Initiative: Pakistan hires thousands of newly unemployed workers, using this 'nurturing nature' programme to help the planet and come to the economic rescue of thousands of people.
City Leaders to Shape Green Recovery: Mayors, worldwide, co-ordinating efforts to support a low-carbon, sustainable path out of lockdowns.
How We Can All Come Back Better – And Greener: Pairing action on the pandemic and on climate change will ensure that economies end up stronger than before.