Jack Layton Ferry Terminal

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Every year, over 1.3 million visitors pass through the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal on their way to Toronto’s most beloved parks on the Toronto Islands. Due to its prime location on the water’s edge and its important role as a transportation hub, Waterfront Toronto took on the large task of reviving the terminal and giving the surrounding area the prominence it deserves as a welcoming point for residents and visitors.

The innovative design competition to develop the bold new vision for the 11-acre Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park was launched in 2014, with 33 design teams from 12 countries submitting proposals during the prequalification stage. The primary goal of the design competition being to create an inspiring master plan that could be completed over time in phases. The winning team included landscape architecture firm West 8 based in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The proposal created a waterfront park that personified the iconic ferry terminal and enhanced accessibility, while offering spectacular views of the harbour to complement its proximity to the lake. The original walkway was nearly doubled in width to accommodate the large pedestrian crowds, with a double row of new trees planted in GreenBlue Urban’s RootSpace engineered suspended pavement system.

The double row of soil cells supporting the trees along the length of the promenade will allow the trees to mature quickly, forming a shady archway to the entrance to the terminal. Incorporating the use of the RootSpace pavement support system for tree planting in hardscape surfaces is now used frequently in City of Toronto projects, as well as many other urban tree planting projects in cities around the world.

Urban trees planted in soil cells have been found to grow much more quickly, preventing soil compaction and allowing for larger volumes of healthy soil.

“Urban trees planted in soil cells have been found to grow much more quickly, preventing soil compaction and allowing for larger volumes of healthy soil,” explained Louis-Thomas Kelly in an UrbanToronto.ca article. Soil cells also provide stormwater treatment, using the soil within them to attenuate stormwater, reducing urban runoff while removing pollutants.