Huge park planned for downtown Toronto

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The park would serve the highly populated surrounding neighborhoods in an area with one of the lowest levels of green space in the city

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Downtown Toronto looks set to be transformed with a huge new public park. The city's mayor has announced the intention to protect 21 acres (8.5 ha) along the rail corridor in the area to create the so-called Rail Deck Park.

The plan echoes that of Millennium Park in Chicago, which was also built above an operational rail line. Many other cities around the world, meanwhile, have repurposed (or are planning to repurpose) disused rail infrastructure to create new public spaces: Sydney with the Goods Line, Philadelphia with its Rail Park, Canada's own Vancouver with the Arbutus Greenway and, of course, New York with the High Line.

"Great cities have great parks," says mayor of Toronto John Tory in a press release. "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. This is our last chance to secure a piece of land that could transform the way we experience our city."

The land in question stretches from Bathurst Street to Blue Jays Way and is close to 45-141 Bay Street, where another, smaller park is planned. Before the idea of building the park can be entertained, though, the city must first secure the air rights for the land and ensure any future development is for public use only.

The long-term vision for the project would see decking constructed over the rail corridor, with the ultimate aim of creating a marquee green space and what is hoped would become an iconic public destination. The park would serve the highly populated surrounding neighborhoods in an area with one of the lowest levels of green space in the city. It would also help to connect the city to its waterfront, with the rail corridor currently acting more as a barrier between the two.

The Rail Deck Park project is part of the City's TOCore planning scheme. A report will be presented to the city's Executive Committee in September.

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