Canada Lands is shaping Downsview Park to be a dynamic urban green space in which active and passive elements are combined for the betterment of the surrounding community and the city.
The 291-acre park, which is a former Canadian Forces Base, was fully integrated into Canada Lands’ portfolio in 2012. Prior to the amalgamation, Downsview Park was an independent subsidiary of the company. The move provided Canada Lands with complete operational authority and oversight of the park and underscored the Government of Canada’s confidence in the federal Crown corporation’s ability to transform former federal lands for the benefit of Canadians.
In the years following, Canada Lands has continuously delivered on its mandate to strengthen operational efficiencies at the park and increase returns to the community and the federal government. Under the company’s management, Downsview Park has developed robust educational and recreational programming that sees thousands of participants each year. The park has become a coveted venue for outdoor events, including VELD, Canada Day celebrations and its very own outdoor movie series, Friday Night Lights.
Programming and events aside, Downsview Park is a destination hotspot for Torontonians and out-of-town visitors looking for a change of pace — and scenery — from the excitement of the city. The site sits atop one of Toronto’s highest elevation points and integrates a cherished mix of forestry, ponds, trails, play areas, sport fields and most recently, a one-acre off-leash dog park. The park even has an urban agricultural farm which Canada Lands is in the process of relocating permanently to its south end. The farm will sit on a 10-acre plot, making it one of the largest in the country.
“Our overarching, long-term strategy for the park is to create a central space where everyone is welcome and feels a sense of belonging,” says David Anselmi, senior director of real estate in Ontario. "From the beginning, Canada Lands’ management of the park has been supported by valued input from community members and groups, so it’s paramount that as Downsview continues to grow and evolve, the site remains reflective of the interests, needs and wants of those stakeholders.”
One such stakeholder is the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Recognizing that the park is located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, and that the land has also been the historic homeland of the Huron Wendat and Haudenosaunee people, Canada Lands is committed to commemorating their great significance and contributions to Downsview’s history. In 2019, the company opened the Sesquicentennial Trail, a new gateway to the park that doubles as a visual interpretation of the site’s history and that of the Indigenous Peoples in the area. The trail also commemorates Canada’s 150th anniversary.
To learn more about Downsview Park, please click here.