Karen St­intz makes a plea for more park­land at the for­mer TTC bus bays at Yonge and Eglin­ton.

The case for turn­ing the bus bays at Yonge and Eglin­ton into a green space

North Toronto Post - - News -

In North Toronto, the avail­abil­ity of park space is woe­fully scarce. The ravine sys­tems are beau­ti­ful but not main­tained, Eglin­ton Park is busy day and night, and there is no other park that is sim­i­lar in size and avail­able to the com­mu­nity.

Res­i­dents in the area rely on school fields as a com­ple­ment to the city parks, but in the sum­mer the school fields are not main­tained. Th­ese open spa­ces are also at risk when the Toronto Dis­trict School Board deems the open space sur­plus to its needs and tries to sell a por­tion of it at mar­ket price, as the com­mu­nity near Ban­nock­burn School knows all too well.

There is no easy so­lu­tion to the prob­lem. Ac­cord­ing to the 2016 bud­get, the en­tire park­land ac­qui­si­tion re­serve fund for the city is $329 mil­lion, and the Sec­tion 37 ben­e­fits for the North Toronto wards are in the range of $16 mil­lion. The park­land ac­qui­si­tion fund grows with con­tri­bu­tions from new de­vel­op­ments in the city.

From 2010 to 2013, there were six pur­chases of park­land in the north dis­trict to­talling nearly $15 mil­lion. Some of the pur­chases in­cluded the ex­pan­sion of Lea­side Arena, Edith­vale Park, McKen­zie Par­kette and the pur­chase of open space from the Toronto Dis­trict School Board. Th­ese ex­pan­sions were im­por­tant but not enough to meet the gaps in park­land that ex­ist.

Although de­vel­op­ers con­tinue to pay into the park­land ac­qui­si­tion fund, it is very dif­fi­cult to buy land in Mid­town.

Even though North Toronto has been iden­ti­fied as parks de­fi­cient and en­joys sig­nif­i­cant new con­struc­tion of high-den­sity units, there is no plan to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the park­land in the area.

One of the cur­rent strate­gies by the city is to in­crease the pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble pri­vate space within new de­vel­op­ments. Th­ese spa­ces are beau­ti­fully de­signed but not the same as a pub­lic park.

The best op­por­tu­nity for that is to de­velop the TTC bus bay at Yonge and Eglin­ton into a park once the Eglin­ton Crosstown LRT is com­plete some­time af­ter 2020.

The orig­i­nal plan was to de­velop the TTC land into a com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial build­ing. This plan was put in place al­most eight years ago, be­fore so many new de­vel­op­ments were ap­proved for the area.

A bet­ter plan would be to turn it over to the parks depart­ment. The for­gone rev­enue is small com­pared to the long-last­ing ben­e­fit that a park would bring.

The high­est and best use of this land is not more de­vel­op­ment, but more green space.

Land for­merly oc­cu­pied by TTC bus bays could be used as park space

KAREN ST­INTZ 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.

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