Shots of before and after TGH Garden
The huge crater outside Toronto General Hospital for two years, which was the excavation to install new fuel storage tanks to run the back-up power system, (L), has been transformed into a green space for people, birds, bees and butterflies. (Photos: UHN FM-PRO Team)

It's UHN's latest greened space.

For two years, an enormous crater was the dominant feature on the ground at Elizabeth and Gerrard Sts. in front of Toronto General Hospital (TG), the result of excavation to install a pair of 90,000-litre diesel fuel storage tanks to serve four emergency generator rooms at TG. They are the back-up power source to keep the lights on and patients cared for in a blackout. 

But rather than leaving the area as a plain slab of concrete with four holes to access the fuel tanks, the folks at UHN Facility, Management, Planning Redevelopment and Operations (FM-PRO) have worked to create a green space that welcomes patients and pollinators alike.

"The vision for reinstating the area was to create a place where patients, visitors and members of TeamUHN could come to unwind," says Stewart Dankner, Director of FM-PRO. 

While maintaining the fuel tank access, the area features a blend of beautiful perennials, herbs and pollinator favourites that will bloom and change throughout the seasons to attract all walks of life, including bees, birds and butterflies. Developed by landscape architect John Lloyd, it promotes a healthy ecosystem and a healthy patient, visitor and TeamUHN member.

"While designing this space, we made sure everything in the garden was locally sourced and sustainable," says Stewart, referring to more than 400 perennials, the furnishings, choice of stone for the new retaining wall and fencing. The benches are made of 100 per cent recycled composite paper.

Recycling and waste bin
New recycling and waste bins help easily distinguish what goes where. (Photo: UHN FM-PRO Team)

The recycling and waste receptacles are also locally sourced and sustainable, featuring simple graphics designating what goes into each bin so everyone can minimize what goes into landfill.

"This sorting station is not only the most functional, clear and user friendly, it's also surprisingly stylish," says Lisa Vanlint of UHN's Energy & Environment Department, which is part of FM-PRO.

Another unique part of the garden is the four black, circular planters made of concrete. Custom-made by a company in Winnipeg, they are on casters to provide accessibility into the manholes for the fuel tanks under the ground. They not only protect the access points, they fix what would have been four nasty tripping hazards.

"All of these features will continue to make this garden a little piece of paradise at Toronto General Hospital," Lisa says. "We cannot wait to watch the garden grow over the years."

A huge thank you to everyone behind the project, including Megan Porter, Adam Pressick, Vera Kan, the entire FM-PRO team, the Ground Guys, who have worked hard to maintain the garden, OJ Muller Landscaping, Maglin Furniture, Pro Weld, Landsource Organix, Barkman Concrete, and John and Mitchell Lloyd. Your work helps UHN be the best it can be.

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