Rail Deck Park Overview
In Fall 2016, Toronto City Council endorsed a proposal for a new major park in Downtown Toronto, to be built over the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. Known as “Rail Deck Park,” the project will transform this unused air space into Toronto’s next great gathering space for recreation, culture, and celebration.
Rail Deck Park represents a bold and creative solution to the challenges of city-building; the first of its kind in the city and the country. An innovative deck structure – essentially a giant bridge across the rail corridor – will provide the foundation and be designed to minimize impacts on train operations below. It will be engineered to support all the elements of a vibrant and dynamic urban park: lawns, gathering and play spaces, shade trees, water features, public art, and more.
Rail Deck Park will support the continued growth, prosperity, and liveability of our city. It presents an opportunity to create the city’s next great civic space, where all Torontonians can come to play, relax, connect, and celebrate.
City Staff are currently developing an updated planning framework to support a park use over the rail corridor. This update is being brought forward through the proposed Rail Deck Park Secondary Plan.
The Secondary Plan applies to the land within the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jay Way, and directly adjacent city-owned properties. This includes Northern Linear Park and the planned Mouth of the Creek Park. The total area of the Rail Deck Park Secondary Plan is 8.8ha (21.7ha).
Toronto has a long legacy of investing in its parks and public realm network, which has endowed it with a well-used open space system that extends across the city.
As the City grows, it must take stock of its parks and open space system to identify where needs and opportunities exist to expand and enhance parkland to support the increasing number of people who call Toronto home.
The City began a major review of its parks and public realm as part of the TOcore Study and the development of the proposed Downtown Plan in 2014. This study identified a need for expanded parkland in the Downtown to serve growing populations and maintain liveability. However, in rapidly intensifying areas like Downtown, finding space for new major parks is difficult and costly. Through the TOcore study, the rail corridor, between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way, was identified as a major opportunity for parkland acquisition in the Downtown.
The vision for Rail Deck Park was formally announced by Mayor Tory in August 2016. Shortly after, City Council endorsed a work plan for Rail Deck Park. The work plan includes an Updated Planning Framework to support a park use over the site, and an Implementation Strategy which addresses design, phasing, real estate, and finance considerations.
Rail Deck Park is a bold and complex city-building project which involves a range of different internal and external partners.
A multidisciplinary project team is currently advancing a phase one work plan for the Rail Deck Park project. Approved by Council in 2016, the work plan involves two main components:
- A planning study to update the existing planning framework for the rail corridor
- An implementation strategy for the Rail Deck Park proposal.
City Planning Staff are undertaking work to update the current planning framework to support a park use over the rail corridor, including potential changes to the Official Plan and/or Zoning By-Law. As part of this process, a comprehensive planning study of the rail corridor site and surrounding area has been conducted. The planning study considers historic and current development patterns, residential and employment growth, parkland provision, rail operations and safety, transportation and connectivity, and other planning considerations.
Toronto and East York Community Council adopted the recommendations from a preliminary report on a potential changes to the Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law for the rail corridor (TE25.57). The report describes preliminary findings and emerging directions from the planning study. A final report to Council with amendments to the Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law is anticipated in late 2017.
A Final Staff Report on the Rail Corridor OPA was recently completed and will be presented to Toronto and East York Community Council on November 14, 2017 (TE28.7). The report recommends the adoption of the draft OPA and proposed Rail Deck Park Secondary Plan. An overview of the planning study and proposed Rail Deck Park Secondary Plan is contained in the report.
The Planning Study involved two public meetings, and a series of other consultation activities including guided parks walks and interactive workshops. Visit the Meeting and Events page for a summary of these activities and the Information and Reports page to view the materials presented.
Work is also underway to advance the proposal for Rail Deck Park with Council direction. The implementation strategy focuses on a range of issues including real estate and property ownership matters, structural design and engineering, early-stage costing, funding options and partnership and engagement opportunities.
City Staff are currently preparing an update on the implementation strategy. This report will be presented to Executive Committee on November 29, 2017.