Ferry terminal plan doubles waiting area, adds park, cafe

Dennis Hanagan —

Designers want to put a green roof on the new Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and make it roomier for families lining up for ferries, often with strollers and picnic gear in tow.
The design team of KPMB Architects, West 8 and Greenberg Consultants presented a master plan for the terminal to the public Jan. 26 at Harbourfront Centre. The plan aesthetically blends the terminal with Harbour Square Park.

Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell, whose ward includes the terminal, called the plan “absolutely outstanding. They looked at how they can adapt it … over a phased period of time so that we can garner the money together to make sure that we make this a spectacular meeting place,” McConnell said.
The green roof would have an accessible pedestrian pathway, and the east side would exit to Yonge. It would have a lookout platform to take in views of the harbour, from the Port Lands to Billy Bishop Island Airport.

The terminal’s Bay St. entrance would be made “more prominent” with a proposed canopy. Children waiting in ferry lineups could occupy themselves—in parents’ view—with play equipment in nearby Harbour Square Park. A café is also proposed for the park.
East of the ferry terminal a floating bridge is suggested to cross the Yonge slip, where the decrepit Captain John’s Restaurant has been removed.

Designers say the bridge is removable so the slip could become a “ceremonial” docking place for visiting ships, especially Canadian naval ships that dock and offer public tours.
Designers describe the topography between Harbour Square Park and the terminal’s green rooftop as undulating, meaning hills and valleys. It’s suggested that in winter children could toboggan down the hills.

The access tunnel to Harbour Square residences will be narrowed, there’ll be additional pick-up and drop-off areas and a separate access for service vehicles going to the island. The plan calls for doubling the waiting area to 2,000 square metres and skylights in the terminal.
Chris Glaisek, vice-president of planning and design at Waterfront Toronto, said the terminal had become too small for the volumes of people that pass through in the summertime.

“We took on the idea of doing a design competition to see how we could re-imagine this as something much more welcoming, much more inspiring, something that was a fitting gateway to the islands,” he said.
Consultant Ken Greenberg said the new terminal is a “keystone” in a decade-long effort to re-purpose the Toronto waterfront.

“What we tried to do is to come up with a new form of public space which is a fusion of architecture and landscape architecture which really speaks to the incredibly powerful role of this ferry terminal in our city,” said Greenberg.