Updated: May 14
Surfaces: sand, rubber, wood chips, concrete.
Shortly after its opening in 2014, Corktown Common got a lot of media attention for two very different reasons.
First, environmental engineers and infrastructure nerds loved the fact that the whole park was built to protect nearby neighbourhoods from flooding in the event that the Don River should decide to get uppity.
Then, parents who don’t like their children to sizzle like bacon when going down a slide began questioning why the city would install a metal slide facing directly south, towards the sun, with absolutely no shade.
Only municipal government could create a park that shows a deep understanding of flood prevention, but appears to overlook the fact that metal gets hot.
After a brief and hilariously documented boarding-up of the playground’s slides, the city finally installed shade over the perilous equipment. But on our first visit after the installation, we noticed that by mid-afternoon the sun had sunk low enough to hit the slide anyway.
Landscaping and burning children aside, this is a pretty good playground. A nice variety of equipment, even if it lacks a centrepiece climbing structure. The splash pad is a bit underwhelming, but the washrooms, the proximity to transit, access to the Don Valley bike path…there’s a lot to like here. If your kids like trains, you get a good view of GO and Via trains coming to and from Union Station throughout the day.
Whenever I see places like Corktown Common, I’m reminded of how far this city has come since I was a kid. I can remember sitting in the back of my parents’ car as it drove the big raised on-ramp that connects the DVP and the Gardiner right near where Corktown Common is today. The view back then was bleak: an abandoned industrial wasteland, with the old towers of Regent Park just over the horizon. I would have given anything back then for a playground like this.
Even if it meant sacrificing a layer of skin to the frying pan slide.