Situated on the southern fringe of the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM), Philips Ridge Park was designed to tell the story of the formation of the ecotones associated with the moraine landscape through a combination of art, landscape immersion and play experiences.
The ORM is one of the most prominent physiographic features in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The landscape of the moraine comprises an assemblage of unique ecotones that have evolved in response to the undulating topography, varied soil stratigraphy and complex hydrology of the landscape feature.
The site of the park is visually connected to the hills and forests that characterize the moraine landscape. In response, the concept plan for the park was conceived with an underlying narrative that describes the composition and varied ecotones of the moraine through art, immersion in the landscape and the design of recreational elements.
The narrative is manifested in all aspects of the design of the park, as an undulating ‘moraine-line’ landform provided the foundation for the creation of an interpretive wall and art piece that is a vertical abstraction of a ‘slice’ through the moraine landform.
‘Rocks’ that are typical of the stratigraphy of the ORM serve as the hand-holds for a ‘traversing wall’ that invites children to hone their rock climbing skills as they climb across the 90 metre long wall feature.
A wetland, a meadow, a woodland and a grassland comprise the landscape that defines the edge of the park. This sequence of defined landscapes illuminates the ecotones that comprise the moraine landscape. A ‘hill slide’ allows children to slide down the topographic feature. A multi-sport court serves as the canvas for a ground-plane mural that replicates the contours and water features of the ORM in plain view while concealing all the linework necessary to support basketball, ball hockey and other court sports. The narrative is supported by interpretive signage that conveys a more detailed understanding of the ORM.
The park incorporates several initiatives to enhance environmental sustainability, including a drainage system that incorporates enhanced swales, permeable pavement and a constructed wetland to mitigate runoff rates, improve water quality and enhance infiltration.
Through a combination of unique recreational opportunities, bold elements and unique landscapes, Philips Ridge Park is effective in telling the story of the formation and characteristics of the Oak Ridges Moraine, while at the same time proving to be a popular and much-loved signature park within the community.