Saturday, June 4, 2011

That Time I Went To Sherbourne Common and Saw a Groundhog

After receiving a copy of Reshaping Toronto's Waterfront from University of Toronto Press, I thought the perfect place to begin reading this would be none other than the waterfront park pictured on the front cover of the book--Sugar Beach. I've written about Sugar Beach previously, so I won't say much about it now save for the fact that there was a hulking ship docked at the Redpath Sugar Refinery that was sending metallic reverberations out into the air as it unloaded its haul of yellowy unrefined sugar.

The waterfront is a strange place to be right now. There are completed projects like Sugar Beach and the Corus building, which sit amidst an otherwise vast expanse of either industrial lands or construction sites at various stages of completion.

After a particularly muscular wind caused me to eat too much white sand at Sugar Beach, I packed up my belongings and decided to head over to check out Sherbourne Common--or the completed part at least--since I hadn't yet taken a look.

The first half of the park opened September 24, 2010, and, while the second half is still under construction, you can start to begin to see how it will take shape. There were several constructions workers there on the day I visited working to install some weird public art.

The completed part of the park is a very alluring combination of bridges, shallow canals, hard surface, and a grassy expanse. There is also a funky building that houses, amongst other things, washrooms.

Right now the completed Sherbourne Common is a bit of an orphaned space. Eventually it will be sandwiched between development, creating a closed in feeling that will hopefully give the park a more cohesive feel. It's a bit difficult at this point to envision how all the new waterfront spaces are going to stitch together, but if the whole is anything like the parts then it's going to be pretty dazzling. However, Sherbourne Common, set further east of Sugar Beach (which was quite full on a mid-week day afternoon), was virtually empty except for me...and some creature underneath one of the bridges.

My curious gaze frightened whatever it was out of the safety of the bridge and out it came, furry and looking like a beaver with a bushy tale.

Being the sensitive animal lover I am, I proceeded to chase, what I later determined to be a groundhog, across the concrete expanse of the Common until it disappeared into the bushes on the other side.

So you see? Waterfront Toronto's ambition to reconnect Toronto to its waterfront, and thus to nature, has already seen success.

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