Today, Mayor John Tory and Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina) announced the City of Toronto’s intention to protect more than 21 acres (8.5 hectares) of land in the downtown core for the future development of an iconic city park called Rail Deck Park. This initiative is part of the City’s TOCore project, a response to the rapid development and intensification of Toronto’s downtown that is placing pressure on physical and social infrastructure.
Toronto’s western rail corridor from Bathurst Street to Blue Jays Way represents the last opportunity to create a significant signature park to serve Toronto’s growing downtown population and create a legacy for future generations of city residents and visitors.
“Great cities have great parks. As Toronto grows, we need to take bold action to create public space and make sure we build a city that makes future generations proud,” said Mayor Tory. “This is our last chance to secure a piece of land that could transform the way we experience our city.”
The population of downtown Toronto has the potential to nearly double to 475,000 people by 2041. This population growth is propelled by people choosing to live downtown, a part of the city that currently has one of the lowest levels of parkland compared to other areas in the City that have not seen the rate of growth that the downtown has and will continue to experience.
To protect the rail corridor, the City will have to secure the air rights and create an Official Plan Amendment to ensure it is developed for public use only. A long-term vision would see a park created from decking over the corridor, creating a marquee green space that will serve the high density surrounding neighbourhoods and help connect the city to its waterfront.
“More and more families are choosing to call downtown home, and they need somewhere to play with their kids, enjoy the outdoors and relax with friends,” said Councillor Cressy. “Turning this underutilized part of our city into a beautiful and sustainable public space is truly a win-win, and will complement the transformative work being done with The Bentway and Fort York.”
Toronto would follow many other great cities that have successfully transformed their rail corridors into iconic spaces, most notably Chicago’s Millennial Park, New York’s Hudson Yards and Manhattan West, New York. The City of Vancouver recently agreed to purchase the Arbutus rail corridor for parkland.
An inter-divisional staff team will advance the Rail Decking Project and staff will report to the September meeting of the Executive Committee.
More information about the Rail Deck Park project is available at http://www.toronto.ca/newsroom.
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