City of Toronto prepares to expropriate 3 acres of air space for Rail Deck Park

Jan 16 2020, 10:46 am

The City of Toronto is taking aim to finally acquire, through negotiations or expropriation, about 1.2 hectares of air space beside Union Station for the development of Rail Deck Park.

The huge park, poised to live above the Union Station Rail Corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way, is projected to cover about eight hectares and has been in the works since 2016.

On January 23, the city’s Executive Committee will consider the motion for the city to continue negotiations for ownership of 1.2 of those hectares — that’s about three acres — at fair market value.

If need-be, the proposal states, the city would expropriate them.

Mayor John Tory shared the city’s announcement about the proposal on Thursday, and City Councillor Joe Cressy detailed the benefits of the city’s motion, highlighting the opportunity for “more parkland, faster.”

The air space of current discussion is located above the Union Station Rail Corridor, south of Front Street West between Spadina Avenue and Blue Jays Way.

Aerial view of Rail Deck Park, looking east from Bathurst (City of Toronto)

Negotiations for the acquisition of the space have reportedly been ongoing with various owners since 2018, with no success as of yet.

Aerial image of downtown Toronto showing proposed placement of Rail Deck Park over the rail corridor with Spadina Avenue cutting through the park (City of Toronto)

The acquisition of these acres, combined with the city’s existing ownership of the one-acre Northern Linear Park property, would support the development of the first four acres of Rail Deck Park.

View of the future Rail Deck Park at the intersection of Draper Street and Front Street, facing south east (City of Toronto)

Proposed over three years ago, the park project aims to transform what is currently unused air space into a new “gathering space for recreation, culture, and celebration.”

According to the motion, by the third quarter of 2020, city staff will bring forward a report to council for authorization of the project’s next stage, including a funding and financing strategy for the air space, and capital delivery of the project.

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