Pumphouse Park put on hold

Ambitious plans for the parkland surrounding two sewage pumping stations at Coxwell and Lakeshore have been put on hold due to a changing list of priorities at Toronto Water, according to General Manager Lou di Geronimo.

di Geronimo said a combination of work needed on the two pumping stations, a lower Don combined sewer overflow project and a master servicing plan for the downtown waterfront area is responsible for the decision to delay the work in the park.

The two pumping stations were in need of “immediate and extensive repairs,” he said. “We needed to focus our attention, money, time and people on the pumping stations.”

The two pumping stations in the park, on the north side of Lakeshore Boulevard across from the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant, handle sewage flow for 1.2 million people, and a higher than normal amount of infrastructure runs just under the ground in the park space. While the skatepark at the southeast corner of the land is separate from the rest of the property, the bulk of the remainder is under the jurisdiction of Toronto Water, despite hosting a number of park uses, including baseball diamonds and the Tubs and Gee Gage Rugby Field.

di Geronimo said the results of the downtown master servicing plan could result in the need to introduce new sewers, or changes related to the pumping stations may need to be made, so it made sense to delay the park, rather than build it and then tear it up for sewage work.

“From a timing perspective we decided to hold off on the park, concentrate on what we need to do from a wastewater infrastructure point of view, and once we complete some of that we’ll go back to the park issue,” he said.

Once current assessments are complete, there’s a possibility some work on the park may proceed incrementally, in areas that won’t affect Toronto Water’s plans. That may be good news for some aspects of the plan, as there are reports that the public art component of the Pumphouse Park plan has already been commissioned, paid for and completed (the city’s Manager of Public Art declined to comment, saying the situation was currently under review).

In the meantime, di Geronimo said the plan remains to upgrade the park and make connections to any paths built as part of Waterfront Toronto’s plan for Lake Ontario Park on surrounding land.

“We are not backing off on the long-term plan of beautifying around the park or looking for connections with pathways, that will always be part of our design mix when we get to the construction phase,” he said. “We never lose sight of that, it’s just a matter of timing.”

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