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Toronto Receives $25M Donation To Build New Waterfront Art Trail

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The City of Toronto is getting a brand new waterfront public art trail thanks to a generous $25M donation.

The donation, made by the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation, is the largest arts-related donation the City has ever received. Mayor John Tory announced the sizable gift on Tuesday, noting that it will go towards two uses: $10M will be used to commission two landmark permanent art works, and the remaining $15M to establish a new non-profit organization that will manage the art trail.

“I want to thank the Lassonde family for this generous donation to our city’s waterfront and for providing funding that will help us continue our vision for an accessible, beautiful and unique waterfront,” Tory said. “A new waterfront public art trail will not only attract residents and visitors to Toronto’s waterfront, but provide an opportunity for people to experience art and much more for free.”

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The trail will run through yet-to-be-built parkland on Villiers Island — a planned 88-acre residential neighbourhood sitting at the new mouth of the Don River. The two landmark pieces, one created by a Canadian artist and another by an international artist, will anchor the trail, with a rotating cycle of contemporary installations also featured.

“With the two new permanent art works as its centrepiece, the art trail, envisioned as part of the revitalization of the Port Lands, will serve as a free, accessible outdoor museum for visitors and residents alike – all of which play a big role in bringing art to public spaces in our city,” Tory said.

During their upcoming July meetings, Toronto City Council will seek the go-ahead to negotiate and enter into agreements to accept public artwork donations in the coming months. If approved, the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation will then appoint an executive director for the new non-profit, which will be called the Lassonde Art Trail. An international competition to commission the two signature, permanent art works will then be launched in partnership with the City and Waterfront Toronto.

“If one wishes to have a profound and lasting impact on the wellbeing and happiness of Torontonians, the waterfront offers a multitude of philanthropic opportunities,” said Canadian philanthropist and businessman Pierre Lassonde.

This announcement marks yet another addition to the eastern waterfront landscape, joining the already-planned destination playground with larger-than-life, animal-shaped play structures, many kilometres of walking trails, a paddling cove, cobble beach, lookout points, picnic spots, and a new naturalized river valley.

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