Quarry Lands

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    Site context section with call outs of illustrations indicating human interaction with site
    Section AA
    Alexa Holder
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    Site Section along with six quadrats indicating natural processes occurring.
    Section BB
    Alexa Holder
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    Exploded Axonometric Drawing depicting existing soil conditions and causes.
    Axonometric Drawing
    Alexa Holder
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    Site Plan
    Site Plan
    Alexa Holder
Author(s)
Alexa Holder
Project Date

The Runnymede Quarry lands are a brownfield site in the East End of Toronto. Now, it is mostly abandoned, used by BMX bikers and dog walkers whose meander along trails through the grassy fields and forested area. The only hint of the site’s long history is the blue monitoring wells, placed there to keep an eye on contamination and gas buildup, and a shed where methane gas was once released from the decomposing waste below. After being quarried for gravel in the 40s, the quarry lands were used as an unregulated dump, then sealed off and abandoned. This has left the site contaminated with a variety of chemicals below the surface but has also prevented the area from being developed and allowed a thriving ecosystem to occupy the site. There have been many proposals to build subdivisions and condos on the site over the decades, but all have been abandoned because of the complexity of the soil rehabilitation required. This idea inspired my project: I imagined a small-scale intervention, where a facility to monitor and improve the condition of the soil is combined with a visitor centre for running outdoor education programs. By focusing on more gradual phytoremediation processes, the intervention is contrary to the real-world proposals for the site, which would prefer the soil be removed and replaced so that development could occur immediately. My project would instead allow the site to continue its gradual rehabilitation, aided by additional human intervention, and bring people to the site in order to see and understand that process.