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UPDATE: Corktown Commons is staying open until Thanksgiving weekend! Don’t miss out — after that it’ll be closed for a few months in order to complete it.

Did you know Toronto has a brand new park?

Located at the base of River St. (where lower River meets Bayview), the latest place to play is Corktown Common. It opened last Friday, June 28 but it will only be open to the public this year until Labour Day. It is not completely finished and needs to close during the winter for further construction. So, don’t miss it!

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon there on Canada Day weekend: It’s a perfect blend of natural and recreational park land. And it’s a great way to enjoy your Wild City. The City of Toronto has planted over 700 trees and thousands of shrubs and grasses. These plants are species that are part of our native Carolinian forest ecosystem and will mature into a diverse habitat that will encourage native plant and animal biodiversity.

CORKTOWN COMMON

Corktown Common Wetland.  PHOTO: DEBBIE BUEHLER

The large marsh is an oasis in our concrete jungle — and it’s also an important part of the storm water management system. The marsh is already home to wildlife. We saw ducks, butterflies and frogs there. But the wetlands still have lines hung with pink ribbons to keep larger waterfowl (like geese) away until the marsh has matured enough to handle them.

And it gets even better! We made our way around the bend to find an amazing new playground.  The play structures are embedded right into the landscape, connecting kids and parents directly to nature.

Slides Built Right Into the Hill. PHOTO: DEBBIE BUEHLER

Slides Built Right Into the Hills.  PHOTO: DEBBIE BUEHLER

And then we saw the splash pad!

CORKTOWN COMMONS

Splash Pad Has Real Rocks for Sitting & Climbing.  PHOTO: DEBBIE BUEHLER

As we were getting ready to leave after hours of play, I asked the kids, “What will we name this park?”

We have a tradition of giving parks names that mean something for us (e.g. the “ant park” is where we learned about ants; the “tree park,” the “big hill park” etc)

“The train park!” The kids answered.

They loved seeing the trains as they headed in and out of Union station. We saw more than 10 as we played on the playground and splash pad.

corktown commons

Trains!  PHOTO: DEBBIE BUEHLER

My favorite part is that my city has built a wonderful place that will bring both people and nature together — in a way that I hope brings mutual appreciation. The Corktown Commons makes me proud of Toronto!

Deborah Buehler is an ecologist, editor and writer in Toronto. This is a mini Wild City post because she just had PRK eye surgery (more on that later). Though she’s limiting her screen time, she couldn’t resist writing about Corktown Common. Follow her on Twitter. See her earlier columns for Wild City here.

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