Hydro Corridors

On April 11, 2018, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, in partnership with the City of Toronto and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, launched a new park project called The Meadoway. The project would reinvent the 16-kilometre Gatineau Hydro Corridor, a provincial high-voltage transmission corridor, from the Bermondsey substation in Thorncliffe Park northeast to the city border in Rouge Park.  The corridor would be converted from manicured grass into, as the name suggests, a meadow habitat, and also install a multi-use path to support cycling and walking.

The Meadoway in blue, with additional portions of the Gatineau Corridor on each end in purple. Intersecting parkland is in green.

This is a great example of taking an underused 20th century bare infrastructure landbase, and partly return it back to nature while providing an active transportation corridor to cycle and play in. I can’t believe a city like Toronto made it to 2019 without doing this, and part of my public review of the Meadoway actually laments that the east and west limits of the project fall short of doing the whole corridor.

At the same time, this wasn’t new. Nearly 80 out of 265 hectares (30%) of the Meadoway already received a meadow habitat treatment, and nearly 10 kilometres of trail were already built. Part of this was the Scarborough Centre Butterfly Trail project, a 3.5 km stretch between Thomson Memorial Park and Scarborough Golf Club Road, which was also granted money by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

The Meadoway is merely scaling this idea up.

But it got me thinking: why aren’t we doing this in other corridors in Toronto, and other cities? How many other utility corridors are there, with potential to add new natural habitat and trail systems? Some transmission lines get buried underground or get paralleled with roads or railways, particularly in urban cores. But many remain as open wide corridors of grass, structures and line, and that makes them huge opportunities.

Follow the links below to explore the inventory of hydro (and pipeline) corridors in a certain city.