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Before and after: Sugar Beach turns 10 years old

One of my favorite public spaces in the city is easily Sugar Beach at the foot of Jarvis Street. So I couldn’t resist sharing this before and after tweet by Waterfront Toronto. Sugar Beach turns 10 years old next week. It’s nearly a teenager.

For those of you who were around and paying attention a decade ago, there was a bit of controversy over the cost of this park — specifically its pink umbrellas. The budget for the park was $14 million and each umbrella cost $11,000.

It’s one of those things that’s easy to single out and make a big deal out of — if that’s what you’re trying to do. “How much? $11,000 for a candy pink beach umbrella? Come on.”

But as Waterfront Toronto explained in this blog post from 2014, each umbrella was fabricated out of a solid piece of fiberglass and was designed to withstand hurricane winds, as well as a good old fashioned Toronto winter. They also serve as lighting for the beach at night.

Part of this is coming from lessons they learned on previous waterfront parks, where the umbrellas weren’t as expensive and haven’t been as resilient to the elements. So there is a whole life cycle cost analysis to be considered here.

Now I don’t profess to be an expert on candy pink beach umbrellas, but I will say this: Sugar Beach wouldn’t be Sugar beach without them. And ten years later, it’s easy to argue for this being one of the most successful public spaces in the city.

P.S. If I could make one small request for Toronto’s waterfront, it’s that we need to better engage the lake. We need proper places to swim. Think of the Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen or the Seebad Enge in Zurich. We may need to tidy things up a little, but it’ll be worth it.

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