Look up, and you’ll find some of the best spaces in Toronto! The city ranked second amongst all cities in North America in green roof installations, with over 775,000 square feet installed in 2014. Thanks to the city bylaw that requires green roof construction on all new development, you can now enjoy these green oases all around the city. And, if you’re visiting from out-of-town, the Saint James Hotel offers the perfect home base in the heart of downtown for exploring the many green roofs in Toronto.
Toronto City Hall Podium
Toronto’s iconic City Hall has the largest publicly accessible green roof in the city. Just take the stairs or ramp up to the second level to experience this vibrant, lush green roof. Decked with over 20 various plant blends, including a rainbow mosaic of Sedum, flowering plants with succulent leaves and a courtyard paved for pedestrians and onlookers, you can overlook Nathan Phillips Square, a national landmark and one of the city’s leading tourist attractions. Grab a seat on a bench and enjoy this green space right in the heart of the city.
A mall with over 15 stores including The Big Carrot Natural Food Market, the Carrot Common in Toronto’s east end boasts a beautiful, multi-dynamic green roof. As you take the staircase leading up the second floor, you are immediately struck by how much there is to take in on this rooftop oasis. You spot container gardens growing fresh, bright produce, a compost system connected to the health food store below, a community event space with a BBQ and benches, a test plot of green space that’s monitored by researchers for new species of Sedum, and much more.
Metro Central YMCA
This expansive green roof on top of the Metro Central YMCA is only 650 metres from the Saint James Hotel. The downtown health and fitness centre offers an outdoor track and studio space if you want to run or take a class surrounded by greenery and a walkway and benches if you just want to relax amongst the native plants. They even offer volunteer opportunities to get your hands dirty and help maintain the space. A fun fact about the space is that the roof was designed and built by the surrounding community. If you’re a member of the Y, you can head to the roof on your own. If you’re not a member, just ask for a tour of the building at the front desk.
With so many green roofs in Toronto, there’s always an opportunity to experience nature without leaving the urban jungle, with stunning views to boot. And if you’d like learn more about any of these spaces, the Living Architecture Tour is a great way to get more information about the hidden green roofs in Toronto.