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Downtown rail deck park 'desperately needed,' councillor says

An artist's sketch shows the vision for Rail Deck Park in Toronto's downtown core. HANDOUT/City of Toronto

A 21-acre Rail Deck Park in Toronto’s downtown core is “desperately needed,” one councillor said during a debate at City Hall on Thursday.

While it will be big and beautiful, the proposed park could also be quite costly — up to $1 billion. There’s also the issue of securing the air rights over the existing rail tracks.

The park would be built over the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way — which would continue to be used by Metrolinx and Via Rail — and connect the neighbourhoods of King-Spadina, City Place and the waterfront.

Coun. Joe Cressy supports the park.

“If we do not take advantage of this opportunity now, we will never secure the ‘Central Park’ that downtown Toronto, and the residents, workers, and businesses in downtown Toronto, desperately need,” he told Mayor John Tory’s executive committee.

“This is about being creative and it’s about political will and it’s about paying for it. And we’re going to do all those things.”

Coun. David Shiner said he wants the park approved: “To make something like this have the possibility of moving forward [in the approval process]… is something that we have to do,” he added.

After the committee meeting, Tory told reporters that he “believed in” the park.

No decision has been made.