One of the most ambitious waterfront redevelopment projects in the world has become even more exciting today with the announcement of a new $25 million public art trail on Toronto’s upcoming Villiers Island.
Those familiar with what’s been happening in the port countries over the past decade will be excited to see brand new renderings, released this morning, of the highly anticipated new urban island – a first of its kind mixed-use community, purpose-built. with nature in mind.
Villiers is currently being created as part of the $1.25 billion Port Lands Flood Protection project (also known as the Don Mouth Naturalization project).
Once the crews have finished excavating some 1,000 feet of new river channel for the mighty Don to flow through, Villiers will stand alone as a new 88-acre urban island off Toronto.
This island is expected to house thousands of people, in addition to offices, retail space, various recreational facilities and an abundance of public parkland.
It’s a huge deal to say the least, and it’s gotten even bigger thanks to a generous donation from the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation.
“A $25 million visionary donation from the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation will create a new outdoor public art trail on the future Villiers Island in Toronto’s transformed Port Lands,” Waterfront Toronto announced in a press release.
“The Lassonde Art Trail will be a free open-air route managed and curated by a new foundation with funds from this gift; the gift will also fund the purchase of two permanent pieces that anchor the trail. A rotating cycle of contemporary installations by local, National and international artists will also be featured.”
Mayor John Tory was on hand to personally announce the new arts course Tuesday morning, along with Waterfront Toronto president Stephen Diamond and members of the Lassonde family.
“I want to thank the Lassonde family for this generous donation to our city’s waterfront and for providing funding that will help us continue our vision for an accessible, beautiful and unique waterfront,” said the mayor.
“A new waterfront public art trail will not only draw residents and visitors to Toronto’s waterfront, but also give people the opportunity to experience art and more for free.”
Of the $25 million donation, $10 million has been set aside to commission two high-profile permanent works of art. Another $15 million is earmarked to establish a new nonprofit that will manage the arts trail and raise additional funds to sustain itself in the long run.
Waterfront Toronto noted in its publication that the city council has yet to vote on whether or not to accept the $25 million gift, though Tory’s involvement and the enthusiasm of other councilors make it feel like a certainty.
“The future Lassonde Art Trail will be invaluable in the vast network of new parks and public spaces we are creating in the port areas, for the enjoyment of millions of visitors and residents of our city,” said Councilor Paula Fletcher of the project. †
Once the trail is officially approved, organizers will proceed with appointing an executive director for the new foundation to begin identifying potential artworks.
It will be a while before we can walk along the path – Villiers won’t be open until 2024 by current estimates – but it will be a nice resource for the city when it’s done.
More than 290 acres of land (more than a third of Toronto’s entire waterfront) will be opened up for public use through the wider Waterfront Toronto revitalization project, boosting the Canadian economy by an estimated $5.1 billion.
Norm Li AG+I/Waterfront Toronto