Rendering: City of Toronto
A new staff report from the City of Toronto asks for direction from City Council to initiate planning for what has been dubbed “Rail Deck Park,” the ambitious downtown park that would see the rail corridor between Blue Jays Way and Bathurst Street covered in green space.
The September 15th report asks for a work plan to be completed by the end of 2017 covering both Official Plan amendments required to establish the space and an implementation strategy for the park.
Preliminary plans for Rail Deck Park were first announced on August 3rd, accompanied by a rendering (above) showing trees and manicured park space sandwiched between Front Street and the north end of City Place. An aerial shot also illustrated the scope of the project and the need for downtown parkland in an area where the population has ballooned from 199,495 in 2011 to 250,000 in 2016 and will continue to grow rapidly.
“The downtown core has far less parkland than other parts of the city,” Mayor John Tory told CBC on the day the plan was announced.
“Addressing the shortage of parks in the Downtown area is a priority infrastructure need,” reads the 23-page staff report published today.
The report goes on to note that the park would provide the critical mass to support large park and recreational facilities and foster new connections between the King and Spadina neighbourhood, City Place and the Waterfront.
As a way to assess projected costs, the report cites several “precedent projects” in North American cities, such as Millennium Park in Chicago and Hudson Yards in New York City. The 24-acre Millennium Park in Chicago’s Loop District cost an average of $33 million per acre (in present day Canadian dollars) that was shared between the City and private donors. Hudson Yards in New York City is an entirely private development that is expected to be completed in 2024 at a projected average construction cost of $77 million per acre (again, in present day Canadian dollars).
BuzzBuzzNews interviewed Chief City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat in August about how the City could pay for the park, which is set to be 21 acres in its current incarnation.
The September 15th report also makes clear the importance of the plan in improving the city’s downtown core.
“The rail corridor is the last opportunity to secure space for a major park in the Downtown area,” reads the report’s conclusion.
The full report from the city can be viewed here.