Mr. Tory, we need you

Plan for mixed-use de­vel­op­ment now out of date, park-only pledge needs cham­pion

Bayview Post - - News - KAREN STINTZ

Big city may­ors are ex­pected to have big ideas that trans­form their re­spec­tive cities. Mayor Tory launched his big idea for a new ma­jor park in down­town Toronto, to be built over the rail cor­ri­dor be­tween Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. The Rail Deck Park project is sim­i­lar in con­cept to Chicago’s Mil­len­nium Park.

It is a bold, cre­ative and am­bi­tious plan, not just be­cause it has not been done any­where else in the city or the coun­try, but also be­cause it is cur­rently un­funded.

The need for more park space is not just a down­town is­sue. It is also be­com­ing a Mid­town is­sue. The pace of growth in Mid­town is not sur­pris­ing given that the Yonge-Eglin­ton area has been rated as the best neigh­bour­hood in the city to live based on in­di­ca­tors such as hous­ing, schools, em­ploy­ment, shop­ping and ac­cess to tran­sit. In­ter­est­ingly, ac­cess to parks and green space was not one of the in­di­ca­tors.

In spite of the many at­tributes of the Mid­town area, it has been iden­ti­fied through mul­ti­ple plan­ning re­ports that the area is de­fi­cient in park space rel­a­tive to the pop­u­la­tion and need.

The so­lu­tion to more park­land in the area is to ap­ply the same cre­ativ­ity to Mid­town as the Rail Deck pro­posal ap­plies to down­town. The for­mer bus ter­mi­nal at Yonge and Eglin­ton pro­vides a cre­ative so­lu­tion to more park­land for Mid­town.

Af­ter 10 years, the bus bays have fi­nally been de­mol­ished, and the land is cur­rently be­ing used for LRT con­struc­tion.

Once the LRT be­comes op­er­a­tional in 2021, the Toronto City Coun­cil–ap­proved plan was to sell the land to build a mixe­duse de­vel­op­ment. But that was be­fore the cur­rent condo boom. There is a strong case to be made that the high­est and best use for the land to­day is not for more hous­ing but for more green space.

Turn­ing the land into park­land is not only a cre­ative so­lu­tion, it may be the most prac­ti­cal one.

There are many con­straints on the land that make de­vel­op­ment dif­fi­cult, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple own­er­ship and the fact the air rights above the prop­erty are owned by a pri­vate de­vel­oper who has not in­di­cated a de­sire to sell.

The in­tense de­vel­op­ment in the area cre­ates both the need and the fund­ing op­por­tu­nity. Through the use of de­vel­op­ment levies and fees, the city can be­gin a re­serve fund to help pay for the cost of build­ing the park.

The one thing this cre­ative so­lu­tion needs is a cham­pion. Per­haps next year’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for that cham­pion to emerge. Karen Stintz is a for­mer city coun­cil­lor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her fam­ily.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.