It was Joni Mitchell who sang about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.

At Lansdowne Park, they’ve done the reverse. Workers have torn up the huge asphalt parking lot and started replacing it with around 11,000 square metres of lush, green sod.

It’s the great lawn at the centre of the new urban park that is part of Lansdowne’s re-development. When it’s finished it will be close to the size of the lawn in front of the Parliament Buildings.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the site will eventually contain about three times more total green space than it used to. “We’ve often said we’re going to put the park back in Lansdowne and this is the start of it,” he says.

The new park also includes plenty of pathways and seating areas, places for events, a farmer’s market and other vendors, and plans for features like a children’s play area, a water plaza, skateboard park and outdoor rink.

Workers have planted over 850 new trees and thousands of shrubs. There’s even an apple orchard in the north-east corner of the park where some trees are already producing fruit. “There’s seven or eight different varieties of apple trees that will be open to the public for picking and there’s a pathway system and a picnic table area in there,” says Doug Clunie of D&G Landscaping – the Ottawa company in charge of building Lansdowne’s urban park.

Like much of Lansdowne’s re-development, the urban park is still very much a work in progress. It’s slated to open August 15th. Mayor Watson will host an official opening celebration the following day.