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April 25, 2017
Mayor Tory presents next steps in development of Rail Deck Park
  
As City of Toronto staff prepare an implementation strategy for an 8.5-hectare (21-acre) park in downtown Toronto, Mayor John Tory today welcomed international panellists to an urban planning symposium organized by the Urban Land Institute Toronto (ULI), “Super Park Panel – From High Line to Millennium Park: How Major Parks Transform the Urban Experience.”

The panel discussion, part of ULI Toronto’s Electric Cities Symposium at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, brought together representatives of major urban parks from around the world. Panel members included Jesse Brackenbury, Executive Director of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy (Boston); Daniel Jongtien, Benthem Crouwel Architects (Netherlands); Matt Nielson, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Millennium Park (Chicago); and Jamie Torres Springer, Senior Principal, HR&A Advisors Inc., High Line (New York City).

“Rail Deck Park will create an ambitious new public space for the people of Toronto and our visitors,” said Mayor John Tory. “It is important to look to other cities where such visions have been brought to fruition through hard work and unique partnerships and where they have resulted in meaningful and important new public space.”

In the fall of 2016, City Council requested staff to prepare an implementation strategy for a major Rail Deck Park in downtown Toronto that would be built over the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. The project has the opportunity to transform this unused airspace into an iconic green space for recreation, culture and celebration.

The City is advancing the work required for a new planning framework. The implementation strategy for Rail Deck Park includes real estate analysis, engineering and structural assessment, financial analysis including preliminary project costs and potential funding sources, and a partnership strategy to support community and corporate involvement in the development and funding of the park.

“As our city grows, we must focus on building communities that are vibrant, sustainable, and livable," said Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity Spadina). “We must be bold and forward-looking in our city-building agenda and continue to create the city where all people can choose to live, work and play, now and for future generations.”

"There is a significant park deficiency in the downtown, where 75 per cent of parks are less than half a hectare, and where we are seeing a significant amount of growth. In order to ensure we are creating complete communities, we need to respond to the park deficiency that exists today," said Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. "The rail corridor is the last opportunity to secure 21 acres of contiguous space. This is a once in a generation opportunity."

Downtown Toronto is currently home to approximately 250,000 residents (increasing to more than 830,000 during the day). By 2041, the resident population is projected to nearly double to 475,000.

“Today’s international panel of modern, urban public realm projects provides a different lens on Toronto’s consideration of Rail Deck Park,” said Richard Joy, Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute's Toronto District Council. “Such projects can serve more than providing civic open space; they can become essential economic generators.”

An update report on work to date on the planning framework (City-initiated Official Plan Amendment) will be presented to the June 13 meeting of the Toronto and East York Community Council. A public meeting to discuss the City's planning framework will also be held in June. A final report on the Official Plan amendment and the implementation strategy is expected in the fall of this year.

Public involvement is also part of the plan, and members of the public can remain informed by visiting the newly created webpage at http://www.toronto.ca/raildeckpark.

As part of the ULI Toronto’s Electric Cities Symposium, members of the public are invited to attend a free City of Toronto event featuring internationally-renowned architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Diller will speak about ambitious design and share the visionary work that led to the development of the High Line and Hudson Yards in New York City and compelling projects that showcase the relationship between architecture, landscape and art.

The free event is taking place today from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W. Attendance is free but attendees must register at http://toronto.uli.org/event/new-york-citys-high-line-recent-work-elizabeth-diller/.

About the Urban Land Institute:
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 32,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. ULI Toronto is a District Council of the international organization, representing over 800 members locally. For background information, images and to schedule interviews, please contact Samantha Eng on the details below.

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. In 2017, Toronto will honour Canada's 150th birthday with "TO Canada with Love," a year-long program of celebrations, commemorations and exhibitions. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TorontoComms and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto.

Media Contact
Bruce Hawkins
City of Toronto, Strategic Communications
416-392-3496
bruce.hawkins@toronto.ca

Samantha Eng
Urban Land Institute Toronto
647-214-0897
samantha@kga-inc.com

 

 

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