Increasing Green Space for Citizens in downtown Toronto

by elle_wing on October 7, 2016 - 11:08pm

In the City of Toronto, a new elevated park has been proposed to be built across the railway tracks in the downtown core. With the addition of Rail Deck Park, it would increase the amount of green space in the area, which is lacking compared to other parts of Toronto. According to interviewed citizens living downtown, many agree that a park is much needed in the area. The drawback however is the hefty price tag associated with the development: $1.05 billion dollars (CAD). City Councillors from the suburban areas don’t see how the park can be beneficial to them, especially as a large chunk of money will be invested into a single park away from their wards. They wish to see money to be invested into the parks in their wards as well.

On the other hand, Joe Cressy, the city councillor for where the park is being proposed, is enthusiastic to see a park going in. His reasons being the lack of green spaces in the downtown area, and the need to make the ward more livable as the population is expected to be doubling in the ward, over the next twenty-five years. In a more recent article (5 October 2016), city councillors unanimously approved the budget for the design of Rail Deck Park. There were conditions attached to have this approval, such as providing funding to clean up existing parks and supporting other similar park projects in other wards.

At first glance, green spaces may not be considered “resources” but it does create some form of income through tourism; is part of a community’s culture and identity – here, being that it can become a landmark much like the High Line has in New York; and it is managed by the City, and in this example, the city councillors are making sure their parks or resources, or being cared for too. This is why there is an issue surrounding the concern for whether the Rail Deck Park should be built or not. As seen by articles on Rail Deck Park, there is a conflict of interest as different wards wish to be benefitted as well, instead of spending their funding towards a single major park not in their area. The City Council managed to agree on the proposal by using incentives to persuade the councillors – which was successfully done – and resulted in everyone getting some benefit to the parks in their own wards.

I appreciate the fact that Toronto will be likely getting more green space in a needed area, especially by making the space more multi-functional. It is difficult to create more green space on land that is already developed, so this project will be taking advantage of a void space and making it more productive. My concern is that the City seems to be spending a lot of money for both the proposed park, and other parks in other wards. While it’s great seeing the attention being put on other parks too, I hope that they will slowly develop the Rail Deck Park in a way that won’t hurt the wallets of Toronto citizens too much. Money is also a resource that needs to be managed and controlled. Overall, it is a costly project for the City, but in the long run the park will be beneficial to the City as a whole. Some of these benefits may not directly affect some of its citizens, but will help with the tourism industry, bring a new landmark into the city, increase the amount of green space, intensify development and create a more livable community in the downtown core.

 

 

References:

Kim, P. Global News. Rail Deck Park would cost millions more than other Toronto landmarks. 16

September 2016. Retrieved from < http://globalnews.ca/news/2945432/proposed-rail-deck-park-would-cost-mil....

McGilivray, K. (2016). “A view of the tracks as they look now, facing east from Bathurst Street.” [jpg]. Retrieved from <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rail-deck-park-city-council-meeting-

1.3791487>.

McGilivray, K. CBC News. Toronto city council unanimously approves work on Rail Deck Park. 05 October

2016. Retrieved from < http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rail-deck-park-city-council-meetin....

Comments

Hi,

I would first like to say that your post was very well-written and obviously had lots of thought put into it. Being somebody who has lived in Toronto all their life, I am able to say that this really hits close to home. I first read about this back in the summer where I originally thought that it seemed like an amazing idea and that everything about it seemed like a positive. However, looking into further details I actually ended up being extremely against this new addition to the city I live in.

Firstly, I totally disagree with everything involved with the funding of this project. This new park will cost more than one billion dollars which is an extreme amount for a park that is only 23 acres. People have compared it to New York and have said that this will be our own "Central Park". Unfortunately, this is an extreme exaggeration as this park will only be 23 acres while Central Park is over 800 acres. We can use this funding on more important issues that Toronto has such as things involving our weak transit system which is something that has been subpar for years now.

Secondly, I actually think that Toronto actually has a ton of green space. We have High Park in the west end - 400 acres of green space with a pond, forests and much more, as well as the Toronto Island a quick water ferry away from downtown. One article I found actually explained that Toronto has three parks all roughly the same size as the new proposed park all within 1.5 kilometres of the actual site of the new park. I don't think we should be investing one billion dollars into a small 23 acre park into an area already surrounded by numerous green spaces.

Here is an article I found, discussing the negative side of this new park Mayor Tory wants to propose. It is a great read and is very eye opening...

http://www.torontosun.com/2016/10/05/toronto-has-more-pressing-needs-tha...

Good afternoon,
after reading your post on the green space topic I was really interested in figuring out why Toronto thought this was a good idea. After searching images and reading the links you attached, I feel that the rail deck park has less to do with making green space and more to do with raising the city's "forward thinking," status. As mentioned in the response above mine, there are plenty other areas in Toronto in the immediate area that can be used as a park or a green space. Utilizing other open spaces would likely save the city millions of dollars that could be put towards making multiple parks within the city. The impression I'm getting so far of the situation is the fact that people do not like the look of the rail deck the way it currently is. I feel with more thought and investigation, the city could come up with a much better solution as to how to convert the "ugly," space into a more attractive/ useful area.
Bulldoze the area, make it safe, and let some growing company come in and develop it. Then build 2-3 parks in available areas surrounding this section of the city.

Hello,
Your post was very well written and I like the points that you brought up. I do believe that green space is something that the city of Toronto needs to invest in. We do have a lot of existing parks in the area- such as High park. However, the population of Toronto is expanding. We need to invest in public infrastructure now before competition and land prices are driven up.

However- 1 billion dollars seems like a very high price tag- and it will likely be over-budget as the case with similarly large projects undertaken by the city. My question is whether or not there is a way to provide an equal amount of green space without such a hefty price tag- what factors are contributing to this estimate?

If there was a way to reduce the price of creating new green space for the citizens of Toronto we could use the saved money to invest in other aspects of the city which are dire need of improvement. For example the public transportation.

I think you found a great topic, very controversial and speaks to the changing morals and ideas in society.

I agree with the idea of multifunctional areas in large cities. As there is so much demand for space in large cities and development continues to grow, land planning becomes increasingly difficult. Using land in such ways allows for green space to be a component of development.

Green space is important for mental health and activities. In growing cities the trend seams to be that green spacers are developed. Another factor is the environmental impact green space has. With emissions being high in large cities such as Toronto green spaces that are crafter to do so help to mitigate this. Contributing to global climate goals.

Although I understand the impetus of stopping this particular park bases on cost, I think that it is time for large cities to increase the budget on such things. It truly would be a model for modern sustainable development. In the inclusion of nature in a useable space is a model idea.

With Toronto being so developed, I don't see a way around large price tags on such development. Maybe it is time to change the tune, and put some money into social and environmental livelihood.

I think the view lacking here is that of the citizens. What are they thinking? Are they willing to pay for this type of progression? After all it is their money.

Heyo,

I have mixed feelings about this park. Having gone to school for two years in Toronto, I would have loved to access more green space while I was there! However, I feel that the park poses some issues in terms of accessibility.

The cost of this park is projected to be over $1 billion, and will be paid by people who live in the city. However, is it accessible to all citizens of Toronto? I think not, since it can take quite a while to get down to the downtown core from certain areas. I also think that this park is aimed at the wealthy, as many people in the downtown core are wealthy. Moreover, the park is right above the tracks, where many commuters come in each day. So maybe it is not Torontonians that will benefit from the park, it is people who commute from other cities to work in Toronto. It is hard to believe that people from the periphery will travel to downtown Toronto to go sit in a park.

I have a small question about the Rail Deck Park in downtown Toronto. Is it worth to build? Do you want to visit there? No, I don't. I do not think it is beneficial.The Rail Deck Park seems just park although it can green the downtown Toronto. Could a park be land mark? In my thought, Toronto should use money for other more beneficial things. However, your post is organized and studied very well. Thank you.

Green spaces have been shown to significantly improve the mental well being if residents of an area, As populations increase green spaces decrease. This is something that needs to be looked at. This project has a hefty price tag and some would ask if it is worth it. Cities have to start somewhere though. These spaces can be usable for more than just picnics and those activities can bring together communities. This park and others like it can help beautify and strengthen communities. They also can bring new business and homeowners into the area increasing tax revenue. Though the park is expensive, it would be a good idea to do.

I first want to start off by saying how I liked that you used a photo at the beginning of your article. It made it seem to be more as a proper news article. As regarding to the article, it's great that we're adding more greenery to this world. We've taken so much away that we're suffering because it now.

Your post was excellent. I really enjoyed the reading. I only question if these costs are worth the price. I think the park would bring some tourism into the area, but is that enough of a positive thing to go forward with the overall plan?