The City of Toronto is developing a Parks and Public Realm Plan as part of TOcore: Planning Downtown (http://www.toronto.ca/tocore). Taking into consideration input received from the public, the plan is creating a blueprint for a connected, expanded and diverse parks and public realm system in the Downtown that maintains liveability in the face of continued population and employment growth. The work completed under TOcore is pointing to the urgent need to address park provision in one of the most park-deficient areas of the city.
Currently the rail corridor is a physical barrier between the King-Spadina neighbourhood, City Place and the Waterfront. It is a “missing link” in the Downtown urban fabric. Knitting these two communities together will increase accessibility to the community assets each neighbourhood provides and will offer a seamless transition from north to south.
Just as Millennium Park in Chicago has become a destination park for locals and visitors, this new legacy park has the potential to be bold and innovative, drawing residents from around the City, and those visiting the City, providing them with an experience that is unique to Toronto.
The western rail corridor is the last opportunity to secure a large park Downtown to serve the local community and the entire City. Rail Deck Park is a long-term, civic project that likely would be phased to align with population growth, creating a legacy for future generations.
Initiating an Official Plan Amendment will lead to the establishment of principles of development and a clear prioritization of land uses. The priorities for any decking of the rail corridor must consider the pressures that have resulted from the surrounding growth and will include parkland, connections between the adjacent neighbourhoods and the opportunity for an RER station at Spadina and Front.
Decking is feasible – the development application at 45 Bay includes decking the rail corridor for open space, while projects completed and under construction in New York (Hudson Yards) and Chicago (Millennium Park) demonstrate the feasibility of decking an active rail corridor.
Size of rail corridor study area
Total Area Bathurst to Blue Jays Way – 21 acres (8.5 hectares)
Total Area Blue Jays Way to York – 5 acres (2 hectares)
Rail corridor ownership
Comparable park sizes
Existing planning framework
Similar projects in other cities
Downtown family demographics
1) Schools and child care (62.5 per cent)
2) Easy access to green spaces and playgrounds (51 per cent)
3) Availability of recreation activities. (47 per cent)
Downtown residents’ mode of travel to get to work
Connecting and improving accessibility in the Downtown is critical to supporting the travel patterns of Downtown residents and workers: