Lake Wilcox Park is 5.48 hectares of exceptional waterfront parkland reflective of the area’s cultural, historical, and environmental heritage. Nestled along the eastern shores of Lake Wilcox, within the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Park’s design is founded on principles of an ecologically driven approach that balances recreational parkland with built facilities and an accessible and connected waterfront. An extensive consultation process with the public and Indigenous communities confirmed an integrated design approach and inspired the detailed design of the park. As a result, the natural and cultural history of the site is celebrated via symbolic detailed design forms, materials, and public art intricately woven throughout the landscape.
Dillon led a multidisciplinary team of biologists, architects and water resource engineers in the preparation of a master plan to accommodate the development of the $10M community centre and park to accommodate a range of active and passive park facilities.
The site features a continuous 450 m pedestrian promenade along an ecologically restored shoreline. The promenade facilitates multi-use access through the site, while themed lookout areas support passive enjoyment and provide opportunities for education on Indigenous communities, early European settlement, lakeside recreation, and ecology. Themed areas are identified by stone cairns and artwork combined with specific paving materials, plantings, engraved quotes, and design forms that combine to tell a story. Examples include delicate animal prints embedded in the concrete surfaces, etched imagery in the boulder edges, special paving patterns of heritage textiles, sculptures of local wildlife, and distinctive corten steel artwork that visualize narratives.
The upper terrace includes recreational and park features enhanced by ecologically and archaeologically protected areas, landforms, and mature wooded landscapes. Stormwater strategies demonstrating innovative measures to improve water quality entering the sensitive urban kettle lake are featured in various elements, including a new naturalized creek to convey site and adjacent property runoff, parking areas with infiltration paving and gallery storage, and infiltration catchment areas intercepting overland drainage. An accessible path network provides continuous routes within the park permitting access to all features and park areas while providing links and gateways to the surrounding neighbourhoods and adjacent community centre.
The main park terrace with a large pavilion and extensive lawn accommodates multiple small picnics and large social gatherings. The picnic areas are part of a restored landscape which includes new native trees, existing mature white pines, roadway screening, and naturalized landscape zones.
A notable and accessible forest-themed play structure, combined with a natural play zone, provides a naturalized play experience. Overlooking the lake, a waterplay environment echoes the spirit of the lake with forms and spray features reflecting species and elements of the lake. A central washroom facility supports the recreational areas, and its green roof wetland system further demonstrates stormwater management. A pedestrian arrival plaza serves as a central gathering node linking all of the main park components.
The team’s landscape architects led the public consultation, coordinated the design development and contract documents, and provided construction management for all phases of the project. Park visitors have expressed that their experiences of Lake Wilcox Park are enriched by the extensive interpretive storyline of the site’s natural and cultural history embodied within the site’s unique features and public art elements.
Design of the Phase 1 promenade was completed in 2012 and officially opened in 2014. Design of Phase 2 was completed in 2015 and officially opened in 2016.
Phase 2 is located on the upper banks of the Lake Wilcox shoreline, adjacent to the Phase 1 Waterfront Promenade. The park includes a themed custom designed splash pad and waterwall with lounger deck overlooking the lake, restored shaded picnic areas, a park washroom building with wet green roof, sustainable parking lot with permeable paving, custom forest themed accessible play structure, and trail connections to the promenade and Oak Ridges Community Centre. The park landscape setting is enhanced by extensive planting and the retention of existing mature trees.
This project was recognized with the following awards: