Come out of hibernation and skate the winter doldrums away on a newly constructed stretch of ice underneath the Gardner Expressway.
The Bentway Skate Trail is part of a $25 million cultural space being developed just north of Lake Ontario. It will be a backyard for the growing communities of Liberty Village, Spadina-Fort York and lower Bathurst St. by the waterfront, as well as an attraction for city dwellers and those outside the urban zone. More than anything, re-imagining the existing structure as a common recreational public space shared by the local communities is a great way to connect the neighbourhoods using the once vacant strip of land underneath the highway.
The skate trail extends from Strachan Ave. to Bathurst St. and is part of the larger Bentway development. It will be extended all the way over to Spadina Ave. in the later stages of the project.
The name Bentway comes from the support pillars that hold up the highway. Bentway refers to the path constructed between the columns under the highway.
Jump around to DJs or sit in the warming stations during the opening celebrations of The Bentway Skate Trail at the gathering point on Fort York Boulevard at the official opening celebration on Saturday, Jan. 6 from 11 am-11 pm. There a tons of free activities – music from artists Charmie Deller, and Carmen Braden, Ice Breaking, which is breakdancing and freestyle ice skating by the Toronto Ice Skate Group, DJ sets from Skratch Bastid and Nino Brown, food and drinks, pop-up curling, an inaugural public art exhibition, ‘Constructions of the Everyday’, a meet and greet with Canadian pairs silver medalists Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch, a soldier selfie booth, and lantern tours of the historic fort after dark.
On Jan. 7, 2018, The Bentway Mayor’s Skate Party event takes place from 1-5 pm with complimentary skate rentals and hot chocolate. The ice skating trail will open until the weather changes in mid-March at which point the programming will change. There will be activities year-round with Turn it Out, a series of interactive DJ and Ice Breaking workshops presented by UforChange, the Toronto Ice Skate Group and The Bentway starting Jan. 12, followed by Beats and Bents Friday night skate parties.
The first phase of construction includes the Strachan Gate Amphitheatre to be built close to Strachan Ave. That part of the development, anticipated to open in the summer of 2018, will accommodate performance arts and sports events.
Judy and Wilmot Matthews are the philanthropists behind the project. They were also significantly involved in the award-winning revitalization of St. George Street, development of the $30 million Open Space Master Plan at the University of Toronto, and creation of a pedestrian piazza and the Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre, a short distance from The Bentway at the foot of Bathurst St. They have been involved in other spectacular cultural projects like the Evergreen Brickworks, Artscape, and the Canadian Opera Company. Judy, who is a retired city planner, happens to be the great-grand daughter of Edward James Lennox, the architect who designed Toronto’s Old City Hall, Casa Loma, the west wing of Ontario’s Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, and many other still prominent landmarks of the city.
The Bentway project is located under the Gardiner Expressway right by Fort York Visitor Centre (250 Fort York Blvd.) between Strachan Ave. and Bathurst St. The Bentway Skate Trail is located just east of The Fort York Visitor Centre. Visit the site for activities and services: http://www.thebentway.ca/visit/