For a neighbourhood somewhat removed from the hurly burly of downtown, Don Mills
has an extraordinary collection of cultural, recreational, educational and healthcare “assets” close at hand. World-class is an often over-used adjective but what better term describes the area’s latest addition, the Aga Khan Museum. But this extraordinary gift to the Canadian people only amplifies the extraordinary array of facilities already in place. Presently plans are afoot to transform the Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG), just down the street from the Rodeo Drive
site, into a horticultural showcase on par with the best such gardens in the world. “Toronto is the only major city in the world that doesn’t have such a facility,” argues Harry Jongerden, the TGB’s executive director and the guy spear-heading the proposed $31-million makeover. Jongerden and his team have tabled a proposal with the city to transform all of Edwards Gardens’ 40-plus acres into one humungous horticultural garden. Presently the TBG has just four acres within the park, a parcel that was given at the garden’s inception in 2006. And he is also the first to admit that the presence of the renowned Royal Botanical Garden down the QEW in Burlington likely explains the absence of a similar facility in Toronto. But he remains undeterred. “New York City has five botanical gardens and most other global cities support more than one.” The benefits of having such a facility in our own backyard are many. In Montreal, their botanical garden is the second most visited cultural attraction in the city. In Vancouver, the Van Dusen Garden is number six. “Garden tourism is just a really big deal,” argues Jongerden. A few years back Toronto completed a massive overhaul of its cultural infrastructure with a new opera house and the renovation of the ROM, AGO and the Gardiner Museum. The TBG is the last piece of the city’s cultural infrastructure puzzle so, stay tuned folks, the launching of a world-class horticultural garden is likely to coincide with the opening of Rodeo Drive. And it is mere minutes from your new front door.