Bold new out­door space cen­tre of ROM re­design

The 5,500-square-foot pro­ject is slated to be com­pleted in early 2019

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Hay­den Kenez

Flanked by Bloor Street’s end­less ar­ray of shops and din­ing to the west and of­fice tow­ers to the east, the Royal On­tario Mu­seum (ROM) is a hub of ac­tiv­ity and, of­ten­times, con­struc­tion. So when the mu­seum un­veiled plans to cre­ate an out­door per­for­mance venue, it was mu­sic to the ears of many who fre­quent the area.

In April, the ROM an­nounced a re­de­vel­op­ment of its Bloor en­trance, com­plete with a new green space. The 5,500-square-foot pro­ject will con­sist of gar­dens, out­door seat­ing and an open-air stage for live mu­sic and the­atre per­for­mances. It’s slated for com­ple­tion in early 2019.

In the face of rapid de­vel­op­ment and den­si­fi­ca­tion, green space re­mains a cov­eted as­pect of life in the city, said Josh Basseches, the ROM’s di­rec­tor and CEO.

“Toronto is a won­der­ful city and it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dense. I’ve been talk­ing to peo­ple about the need to have these won­der­ful green spa­ces: places where peo­ple re­ally feel wel­come and not just a pretty place that you’re sup­posed to look at,” Basseches said. “This is an op­por­tu­nity to make our space more wel­com­ing and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties to gather, to so­cial­ize, to en­joy a won­der­ful civic space in the heart of Toronto.”

With new de­vel­op­ment surg­ing forward and real es­tate prices skyrocketing, des­ig­nat­ing green space in the heart of the city re­mains a problem.

“In down­town Toronto, we’re de­fi­cient in green spa­ces,” agreed coun­cil­lor Joe Cressy, whose ward en­com­passes the ROM. “Our work needs to be in build­ing a liv­able down­town, ver­sus a ver­ti­cal down­town. It has to be more than rooms where peo­ple sleep.”

It re­mains a del­i­cate bal­ance to strike, par­tially be­cause com­bat­ting the core’s rapid de­vel­op­ment re­quires both money and land.

“We’d love to see more green space — the main chal­lenge is eco­nomic,” said Briar de Lange, executive di­rec­tor of the Bloor-Yorkville Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Area (BIA). “Both the price of the land and its avail­abil­ity are chal­leng­ing.”

Both Cressy and the Bloor-Yorkville BIA sup­port the ROM’s plan, with a de­sire to do even more.

“We need to rec­og­nize the po­ten­tial in for­got­ten spa­ces,” said Cressy. “Whether that means green­ing laneways, beau­ti­fy­ing un­used spa­ces or cre­at­ing pub­lic squares … [for] a more liv­able down­town.”

“We need to rec­og­nize the po­ten­tial in for­got­ten spa­ces.”

The new green space will fea­ture an open-air stage for live mu­sic and the­atre

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