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Bentway LV2

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If you’ve been keeping up with what’s going on around the Gardiner this year, you’ve probably been pretty excited about the Bentway project. For those that don’t know, the Bentway refers to the skating trail that is being built below the Gardiner Expressway. Designed to make use from unexplored, undeveloped land, the skating rink is going to make for a huge boost to the area which could use a little TLC if we’re all being honest with each other.

Under the Gardiner may not seem like the most natural place to put a skating rink and to be honest, this isn’t your average skating rink. The Bentway features twists and turns around highway pillars, animating what has long been Toronto dead space.

The previously unused land here stretches 1.75 kilometres from the CNE grounds to Bathurst Street. Through careful planning over the last two years, this region has been in process of development into green, urban-friendly space. The Bentway skating trail has been a large component of this development, comprising of approximately 220 metres stretching from east of the Fort York Visitor Centre to Bastion Street.

The Bentway skating trail is just the beginning. This upcoming summer, a green amphitheater is expected to open up, providing another venue for live performances and events of all kinds. Public art commissions are also set to be installed in the coming years as well.

The whole concept of the Bentway was established roughly two years ago after lengthy debates on what to do with this empty space. The big barrier to moving forward on any proposal was a lack of funding. Thankfully, from a $25 million donation from Toronto philanthropists Judy and Wilmot Matthews, the Bentway was able to move forward and to do so from private funding alone.

The Bentway is not open yet – but it will be. Head down to the Bentway on January 6, 2018 at 11 am for the skating rink’s opening day celebration! The ice has already been poured and come that Saturday morning, it’s going to be a pretty big party. Bring down the whole family and celebrate with other residents of Liberty Village and the surrounding area.

The first weekend of January is going to be full of free events and activities so to anyone in Liberty Village looking to get out in the winter weather, this will be the place to be. There are music performances scheduled alongside, “ice-breaking” demonstrations, DJ sets, food and drink, pop-up curling, and the Bentway’s first art exhibition titled “Constructions of the Everyday”.

The remainder of the winter season should have the Bentway skating rink open until mid-March (weather permitting). There are skate rentals available however only between the hours of 4 pm to 9 pm Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday, and then 11 am to 9 pm on Sunday so plan accordingly!

The future of the Bentway following the winter skating season should be an alive time for the region. As more construction is completed, gardens, farmer’s markets, and more should be added. Currently set to span across Liberty Village, Niagara, Fort York, the Fashion District, CityPlace, and Harbourfront, when all is said and done, the Bentway is going to be a complete re-design of its area. For an early glimpse of what lies ahead, join us down at the Bentway in January!

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Jason LeBlanc

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