NEWS

New glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge opens over Lake Shore

10/06/2014 08:49 EDT | Updated 12/06/2014 05:59 EST
A new pedestrian bridge high above Lake Shore Boulevard — literally strapped to the bottom of the Gardiner — opened last week.

The bridge gives pedestrians a bird’s eye view of cars passing on the street below.

“It's really becoming about people,” architect John White told CBC News last month. “It's not about cars anymore and the highways. It's actually about getting people down to the waterfront.”

The glass-enclosed bridge is visible on the Lake Shore, but it’s so new that most Torontonians don’t even know how to find it.

“Well, I'm going to have to try it just to see,” one pedestrian told the CBC’s Mary Wiens, who recently made the crossing for the first time. “I don't know where you get on, where you get off.”

The stairs to the bridge can be found at the foot of Yonge Street, next to Union Station inside the Air Canada Centre.

“[It’s] absolutely amazing,” another pedestrian said. “I mean, this connects the other side of the Gardiner with the city. It's amazing.”

The pedestrian bridge connects the community to south with the downtown core — a feat most of the city once thought could only be achieved if the Gardiner was torn down.

The neighbourhood has been dubbed the South Core. Only a decade ago, it was still a sea of parking lots, vacant land and off-ramps from the Gardiner, cut off from the rest of the downtown by both the railway lands and the Lake Shore.  

But the area has undergone a dramatic transformation.

Mike Minor is the CEO of two high-tech companies. He lives on the 36th floor of a condo tower at the south end of the pedestrian bridge and works in an office tower at 20 Bay.

“This is fantastic. I live here — I work there. I never have to go outside again. It's wonderful,” he said. “[It’s] pretty convenient, very convenient commute.  It's about three and a half minutes door to door.”

As a transplanted Vancouverite, the bridge will also spare Minor the cold winters for which Toronto is infamous. But to him, the bridge is also a sign of what the city is becoming.

“Everybody asks me, ‘How do you move from the west to here?’ But you know what? This is a great place to be. And it's a great place to be right now,” Minor said.

“This city is going through a renaissance that is going to be spectacular … It is just starting here. And this is going to be the best city on the planet to be in about 10 years as all this stuff comes about.”

If Minor is right, the bridge is a symbol of what Toronto could become — quite literally placing people over cars — and a sign that the city is finally figuring out how to overcome the barriers that seemed to separate residents from their own waterfront.

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