Move over Rail Deck — Toronto's getting a new park at Front and Bathurst

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Move over Rail Deck — Toronto's getting a new park at Front and Bathurst

Move over Rail Deck — Toronto's getting a new park at Front and Bathurst

Move over, Rail Deck. There's a new park in Toronto's future.

City council passed a motion Friday night to convert the land at 28 Bathurst Street, near Front Street, into a new green space in one of the city's highest-growth regions — described as one of Toronto's most park-deficient areas.

The 2.3 acre city-owned site was previously a lead smelter for car battery carcasses. The $5M dollar plan will see it capped and turned into something of a green oasis in a part of the city currently dominated by concrete and asphalt.

That's good news to Coun. Mike Layton, who put forward a motion for the city to consider creating the new park space, back in November.

'A great deal'

"The city's getting a great deal on a large new park in an area that's facing a lot of development pressure," Layton said after the motion was passed on Friday. 

"This was one of our last opportunities to use city land in the downtown core to help build park amenity space, so we got a steal."

He was comparing the price tag of the green space to what it would have cost for the city to clean up the site for residential use  — a cool $25M, according to studies conducted by the city's real estate arm, Build Toronto, The studies themselves cost $1.2M.

Besides, if the city had to buy a site this size, it would have cost a hundred million dollars, said Layton.

And he wasn't the only one applauding the news.

Residential use could have brought some $10M, according to estimates

"We have very few opportunities to create green space in downtown Toronto," said Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon. "We should definitely be taking advantage of it… for quality of life, for mental, spiritual and physical health."

Not all saw a park as the best use for the land, however.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong says there's far too much information missing from the report and that selling the land for profit should be an option.

There are estimates that the net cash gain to the city for a residential type use would amount to some $10M.

"The opportunity costs of not selling this property are huge," Minnan-Wong said.

He would have preferred to see the option studied more and for the city manager to report back to allow for "an educated decision."

The $1.2M spent by Build Toronto does have to be repaid.

As for when and how the green space will come together, Council has asked Parks and Recreation to report back on development and operating costs.