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Toronto's plans for Rail Deck Park comes to a halt

Last Updated May 12, 2021 at 5:14 pm EDT

Rendering of proposed Rail Deck Park in Toronto. ORCA

The City of Toronto’s plans to build Rail Deck Park have come to a screeching halt.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) has sided with the Craft Development Corporation who owns the air rights for the rail corridor, south of Front Street between Bathurst and Blue Jays Way.

The company has made its ambitions clear that it wants to build a multi-tower, mixed-use community on the property.

LPAT says the city should not have rejected Craft Development’s proposal to build the 6.5-hectare extension. It also says the city hasn’t taken any substantive steps over the last nearly five years to advance the park plan.

In 2019, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal dismissed an appeal of the approved Rail Deck Plan above the GO Transit and Via Rail tracks downtown.

The Tribunal noted at the time that the Rail Deck Park is a “bold proposal” that helps address the parkland deficiency in downtown Toronto, calling it a “transformative city-building project which will be recognized on the world stage.”

City tribunal decision keeps Rail Deck Park proposal alive

Craft Development Corp. – who claims to own the air rights over the tracks – had initially proposed a design that included nine buildings; seven of which would be residential, one commercial and one retail – leaving 12 of the 21 acres as green space.

The last cost estimate to build the park was $1.7 billion.

“Although I respect the Local Planning Tribunal’s decision today, I am deeply disappointed by it and the possible impact on the future of Rail Deck Park,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement Wednesday.

Tory says city staff are reviewing the tribunal’s decision.

“… This is a very difficult site to build a park on let alone several high-rise towers and so the timeline for this is long,” he added. “I remain absolutely determined to address the shortage of parkland in downtown Toronto and all parts of our city.”

City councillor Joe Cressy said while he, too, is disappointed with the tribunal’s decision his “determination and resolve to build a more liveable city is undiminished.”

“In the days, weeks, and months ahead we must all work to create the new parks and public spaces Torontonians need and deserve.”