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Tommy Thompson Park gets three new buildings

Three small buildings opened on Leslie Spit last week, giving an air of permanence and purpose to what’s been called an accidental urban wilderness.

According to James Roche, director of parks, design and construction at Waterfront Toronto, the spit was created as a breakwater for the outer harbour, part of a shipping plan for the Port of Toronto that was made obsolete before it was completed by the development of container ships.

Since the 1950s, it has been a dumping ground for building materials, and has grown into a multi-armed agglomeration that over the years has cultivated its own ecosystem.

"A lot of different species of animals live there now," Roche says, "and it’s a very important flyover stop for birds going to South America."

The three buildings -- a staff booth, an environmental shelter and a bird-banding hut -- are an attempt to make official the casual uses it's been put to. The staff booth will serve as a monitored entryway, enforcing the park's hours. The environmental hut will be a sort of interpretive centre, with information about the spit and its species, that also serves as a way to get out of the sun, rain or snow. The bird-banding hut will centralize the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s efforts in that area, just in time for the Tommy Thompson Spring Bird Festival on Saturday.

Work started on the project in the fall of 2010, and Roche says the entire project, including a spiffing up of several kilometres of walking and bike paths, cost $8 million.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: James Roche

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