Toronto City Council endorses work plan to accelerate delivery and expansion of major downtown parks

Patrick D Costa

Today, as one of Mayor John Tory’s key items, Toronto City Council endorsed an extensive work plan that advances the delivery of significant, new downtown parks and public realm initiatives along the waterfront at Bathurst Quay and University Avenue. The plan also prioritizes parks and public realm initiatives along the downtown rail corridor, and a planned expansion of public space underneath the Gardiner Expressway by The Bentway.

These projects will leverage City-owned property and co-operative partnerships to deliver much needed downtown parkland and support the City’s recovery and rebuild. These projects will foster economic, quality of life and environmental benefits in locations that are central to the daily lives of thousands of people.

Council endorsement of the Priority Downtown Parks and Public Realm Work Plan directs City staff to report back on individual projects at major milestones, including through the annual budget process. Necessary technical studies, regulatory approvals, certain early work, and stakeholder consultation, will begin immediately. The projects will be further developed and implemented in stages as funding and approvals are secured.

Council also asked staff to report back in 2023 on options to accelerate the delivery of the Bathurst Quay waterfront park and the University Avenue park. Staff were asked to immediately advance work on the Rail Corridor Public Realm Master Plan to protect future open space opportunities above the downtown rail corridor and to explore and report back on future expansion options and support opportunities for The Bentway.

Initial community and stakeholder consultation has occurred through planning studies and planning applications. Comprehensive engagement plans will be implemented to ensure consultation with residents, stakeholders and Indigenous communities.

Council also approved a motion from Mayor Tory directing City staff to identify and report back in 2023 on planned and potential new transformative parks and public realm opportunities in parkland-deficient areas outside of the downtown core.

The City continues to secure new parks and public realm spaces across Toronto through the development approval process and direct acquisitions.

The need to expand and improve public spaces is acutely felt, especially in areas of the city experiencing rapid growth. Downtown Toronto’s population is projected to double from nearly 238,000 people in 2016 to a potential population of 475,000 by 2041. Public spaces are central to people’s everyday experience in Toronto.

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