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BoBo is a French expression, short for Bourgeois Bohème, and it pretty much describes who we are.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

New on the Toronto Waterfront: Sugar Beach

We decided last Friday to have a peek at the latest public space to open along Toronto's rapidly changing waterfront: Sugar Beach.

Sugar Beach is so-named because it sits on the opposite side of the slip from the Redpath Sugar factory. The factory is still in use with no plans to close or relocate it. The City's waterfront development agency has embraced this diversity of use in its new plans for East Bayfront, the massive live-work neighbourhoods shaping up in the former industrial lands that border the lake east of Yonge Street. And we must say that such a neighbour makes for a very striking juxtaposition!

The park is intertwined with a new public promenade which runs (& will continue) all along the water's edge. The promenade was designed by the Rotterdam- based West 8 team of Rotterdam- based West 8 and the creative local shop of DTAH, who together also conceptualized the changes in the works for the Queens Quay streetscape. It's a beautiful example of urban place-making. It is broad, with attractive maple leaf patterned hard surfaces, yet is softened with a double allée of maple trees. Voluptuous teak ipe benches invite you to stop and watch the ever-changing show in the harbour.
The "beach" itself was designed by the very creative Montreal- based landscape architects Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes. It calls across the water (or over the waterfront rooftops, more accurately) to the delightful HTO "beach" already in place near Queen's Quay and Spadina. (below)

The sand is very fine, like sugar in fact (!), and the pink umbrellas add a confectionary ambiance. We were happy to see that it was being very well used despite the fact that at the moment it's still a little divorced from the rest of the city. 

That isolation will change quickly, though- a new park is under construction one block inland at Queen's Quay and Sherbourne, as is the new George Brown College mini-campus immediately to the east of the new Corus Entertainment HQ. The Corus building is the one that provides the immediate backdrop to Sugar Beach, and it's no exaggeration to say that it has generally been considered a disappointment. We won't get into the details here, but you can read for yourself
Lisa Rochon's take from last Saturday's Globe & Mail.

Despite the boring backdrop, it's great to know that we are in the process of building ourselves a really fine public realm at the edge of the lake. We look forward to the next instalment.


  1. What an interesting waterfront. I think the integration of both industrial and recreation would be both interesting and beautiful. I also agree that the pink umbrellas add to the "Sugar Beach" feel!

  2. Correction. West 8 are working with Toronto's DTAH (Evergreen, Wychwood, Durham College). The promenade you mention and Queens Quay are being done collectively. Give the locals some credit where credit is due. Lisa Rochon was wrong too.

  3. Another correction. The benches are ipe, not teak. Just like the wavedecks.

  4. Hi, A;
    Thanks for the feedback. As we both work locally in the creative industries we are thrilled to be able to give local credit where it's due. DTAH is the multidisciplinary company of duToit Allsopp Hillier. We'll edit the original post to acknowledge their involvement.