Lonely Planet Writer

Plans are underway for a gigantic 21-acre park in downtown Toronto

A state of the art gigantic 21-acre park is being planned for the downtown area of Toronto.

A view of the downtown Toronto area rail corridor.
A view of the downtown Toronto area rail corridor. Image by Nick Harris / CC BY 2.0

The Rail Deck Park plans are part of the TOCore initiative, a city project formed in response to rapid development of Toronto’s downtown area that is placing pressure on physical and social infrastructure.

Mayor John Tory and Councillor Joe Cressy announced the City of Toronto’s intention to protect the land in the downtown core for the future development of an iconic city park in the current rail corridor that acts as a physical barrier between the King-Spadina neighbourhood, City Place and the Waterfront.

Proposed plans for the new Rail Deck Park in downtown Toronto.
Proposed plans for the new Rail Deck Park in downtown Toronto. Image by Toronto.Ca

“Great cities have great parks. As Toronto grows, we need to take bold action to create public space and make sure we build a city that makes future generations proud,” said Mayor Tory. “This is our last chance to secure a piece of land that could transform the way we experience our city.”

With the population of Toronto expected to double by 2041, planners are anxious to create a dynamic space for those living in the downtown district of the city, an area that has the lowest levels of parkland in the city.

Before image of the park plans.
Before image of the park plans. Image by Toronto.Ca
Artist's rendition of after the plans are put in place.
Artist’s rendition of after the plans are put in place. Image by Toronto.Ca

“More and more families are choosing to call downtown home, and they need somewhere to play with their kids, enjoy the outdoors and relax with friends,” said Councillor Cressy. “Turning this underutilized part of our city into a beautiful and sustainable public space is truly a win-win, and will complement the transformative work being done with The Bentway and Fort York.”

A size comparison to other secured parks in the downtown area since 2005.
A size comparison to other secured parks in the downtown area since 2005.

To protect the rail corridor, the city will have to secure the air rights and create an Official Plan Amendment to ensure it is developed for public use only. A long-term vision would see a park created from decking over the corridor, creating a marquee green space that will serve the high-density surrounding neighbourhoods and help connect the city to its waterfront.

The park would act as a gateway between neighbourhoods in the downtown area.
The park would act as a gateway between neighbourhoods in the downtown area. Image by Toronto.Ca

The development would show Toronto following in the footsteps of other large cities that have transformed rail corridors into public spaces such as New York’s Hudson Yards and Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is home to approximately 2.8 million people