Toronto council approves planning for $1.7B downtown Rail Deck Park

Dec 6 2017, 11:38 pm

The dream of a 21-acre park in the middle of downtown Toronto just took one step closer to becoming a reality.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, councillors voted to proceed with the plans for Rail Deck Park, which would be located in the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way.

The park, estimated as the size of 16 football fields, received a majority vote (35-4) to proceed with the next steps.

“It’s going to be an iconic park for people across the city,” said Mayor John Tory at the meeting. “They will come and visit it by the thousands and by the millions as they do. Look no further than London and New York. You can name a whole bunch of cities where these great public attractions attract people from all over those cities because they want to be there to enjoy it.”

Rail Deck Park

John Tory/Twitter

Tory also said the park will be iconic because it will attract people from all over the world.

“We’re going to do it right, and we’re going to do it accessible. We’re going to do it so it’s a place people want to be in,” he said.

A City report stated that the rail corridor area is the last remaining site suitable for a major park (over 3 hectares) to support downtown growth and serve as a city-wide asset.

Once built, Rail Deck Park would be the largest park outside of the Don Valley. The report also said that “a park of this scale is a city-wide asset that offers unique programming and design opportunities not available in smaller parks, such as a mix of recreation, natural areas, and cultural uses.”

The park would connect and surround local attractions like Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, and Forth York, and would be integrated with the planned GO Regional Express Rail network.

The City estimates the preliminary cost for the project is $1.665 billion or approximately $83 million per acre.

Not everyone was happy with the cost, particularly councillor Giorgio Mammoliti who said he would resign if the park cost is actually under $3 billion.

Tuesday’s council approval recommends advancing to “due diligence and concept development” (known as Stage 2) which involves engineering/technical studies to support an environmental assessment, design, engagement and legal/real estate consultant costs. Additional public engagement will also be planned during this stage.

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