Bold new out­door space cen­tre of ROM re­design

North Toronto Post - - News - — 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 $5 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment of its Bloor Street 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.

“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, of the Bloor-Yorkville Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Area (BIA). “The price of the land and avail­abil­ity are chal­leng­ing.”

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

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

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