Sugar Beach, Toronto, Canada

Source: Raysonho Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.


Claude Cormier Landscape Architecture

Type of Area

Natural lake

Land/water interaction

Sandy beach

Built Environment Types

Highly built
Low green

Scale of Impact

District/ neighbourhood

Intervention Scale (Spatial)

Moderate site

Project Types

Lakefront development
Outdoor Recreation
Public space regeneration

Urban/ Rural

Inner urban area

Visibility and Openness

Fully open
Part horizon

Urban Wasteland to Contemporary Beachfront

This popular project located on Toronto’s East Bayfront on Lake Ontario was constructed in 2010 to designs by Claude Cormier Landscape Architecture. Sugar Beach is a park that creatively transformed a 8500 m2 car park in a previously industrialised area into a contemporary urban beachfront – the first public space visitors see if they travel along Queens Quay from the central waterfront.

The design reflects and gained inspiration from the industrial heritage of the area, especially its relationship to the neighbouring Redpath Sugar factory. The layout of the park comprises three distinct sections.

An artificial urban beach created from imported sand

An open multi-functional plaza space

A tree-lined promenade which is aligned diagonally through the park which provides a shady route to the water.

The shaded seating areas along the promenade also offers visitors ample spots to enjoy the lake view. It also contains a dynamic water feature for playing in the shape of the Canadian maple leaf. Grass covered earth mounds with the tree grove will eventually hide the view of the beach from the main street.

The most iconic and identifiable features of the park are the bright pink beach umbrellas, which double as lighting at night time, and candy-striped rock outcrops.

The main activities which take place are typical of a beach: sunbathing, playing, walking, relaxing, socialising and public events. The pathway through the park incorporates the national maple leaf symbol inlaid as a mosaic pattern into the granite cobblestone. Access to the beach is provided by extending wooden board walk to the beach. 

Perception and Meaning

Sense of place

Health and Wellbeing

Place affordance
Increases socialisation
Increased physical activities
Aesthetic experience

Interaction with Water


The project scores show some limits on accessibility, due to its location in relation to the city in general. Design quality is highly rated in all aspects. Compared to other sites this lacks some facilities – but this is due to the location and project brief. It is also exposed to wind and sun.

Health and well-being potentials are very good apart from any sense of being away – this is in the city centre – and contact with nature. Direct water connections are not part of the design brief so understandably absent, nor is there any provision for formal sports for the same reasons.