What is Rail Deck Park?
In Fall 2016, Toronto City Council endorsed a proposal for a new major park in Downtown Toronto, to be built over the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. Known as "Rail Deck Park," the project will transform this unused air space into Toronto’s next great gathering space for recreation, culture, and celebration.
Rail Deck Park represents a bold and creative solution to the challenges of city-building; the first of its kind in the city and the country. An innovative deck structure – essentially a giant bridge across the rail corridor – will provide the foundation and be designed to minimize impacts on train operations below. It will be engineered to support all the elements of a vibrant and dynamic urban park: lawns, gathering and play spaces, shade trees, water features, public art, and more.
Rail Deck Park will support the continued growth, prosperity, and liveability of our city. It presents an opportunity to create the city’s next great civic space, where all Torontonians can come to play, relax, connect, and celebrate.
Although just announced in 2016, the idea of a major park spanning the rail corridor in the downtown is not new. Planning studies of the Railway Lands as far back as the 1970s consider a major downtown park in the railway lands, realizing the need to support growth in the core, and to provide a valuable civic resource for future generations.
The need for parkland of this scale was identified as part of the City's downtown planning study, TOcore. Downtown Toronto, despite having the highest rate of growth in the city, also has one of the lowest levels of park provision. There is an urgent need to address this deficiency in order to maintain Toronto's livability and support the continued growth in downtown neighbourhoods.
In rapidly intensifying areas like downtown, finding space for new major parks is difficult and costly. The rail corridor between Bathurst and Blue Jays Way is the last opportunity to secure space for a major downtown park.
For more information on TOCore, please visit www.toronto.ca/tocore
Rail Deck Park is an ambitious and complex city building project. The success of the project depends on coordination, consultation, and consensus among a range of public and private partners.
In Fall 2016, Council unanimously approved a first phase work plan for Rail Deck Park (See Report).
A dedicated and interdivisional project team is now working with various partners to move the project forward. The first step is to develop an updated planning framework (City-initiated Official Plan amendment) for the rail corridor: the policies and by-laws that will guide future development in the area.
A range of studies are also being undertaken to advance the development of Rail Deck Park including comprehensive analysis of real estate and property ownership, design and engineering, phasing options, costing, and possible funding sources.
The team is also reaching out to a range of community stakeholders and will be launching a series of events this spring to encourage public involvement in the plan for the park. Rail Deck Park will be a partnership-based city building project.