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Rail Deck Park (?, ?, ?)

TossYourJacket

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Lets not forget that the CRAFT project is kinda terrible. It's a parking garage with a park and some condos on top. It doesn't meet Front St at ground level, and would basically become a park only used by those living in the condos. Also, if anywhere did not necessitate a giant parking garage it's this location, yet they planned one anyway.
 

ADRM

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You can't just look at a map of Toronto and say, "There's not enough parks near Yonge and Eglinton so we're building a new Central Park on 500 acres between Yonge and Mt. Pleasant, south of Lawrence Avenue."
This is a fairly daft mischaracterization of the City’s position here.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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This is a fairly daft mischaracterization of the City’s position here.
Not to the extent that the point is they want to build a park I think most of us agree is a good idea, but they neither own the land upon which they want to put it and nor do they have a solid estimate of what it will cost.
The example is obviously a bit of hyperbole - Rail Deck Park isn't destroying an established neighbourhood - but the larger point about expropriation remains.
 
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ADRM

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but they neither own the land upon which they want to put it and nor do they have a solid estimate of what it will cost.
But neither of these things is unusual; expropriation isn't a foreign concept to either the City or the Province, and the cost is up in the air mostly because a private entity is playing silly buggers in an aggressive attempt to extract value from that uncertainty.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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But neither of these things is unusual; expropriation isn't a foreign concept to either the City or the Province, and the cost is up in the air mostly because a private entity is playing silly buggers in an aggressive attempt to extract value from that uncertainty.
What I am curious about is whether or not the ORCA proposal predated the internal city discussion for the park.

AoD
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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But neither of these things is unusual; expropriation isn't a foreign concept to either the City or the Province, and the cost is up in the air mostly because a private entity is playing silly buggers in an aggressive attempt to extract value from that uncertainty.
And what makes you think THAT aspect is a foreign concept?
You say "aggressive attempt to extract value," and I say that if they are the legal landowners, they have every right to do so. If they're not... less so.

What I am curious about is whether or not the ORCA proposal predated the internal city discussion for the park.
I hope/assume it's somewhere back on this thread but my recollection is that there was an article in which the landowners said they'd been working on the application for a while and the City knew that. One day they got a call telling them they should show up to some announcement the Mayor was making. They showed up and he announced the plans for the park, totally surprising them. We can take that with grains of salt if we like. There's a lot of contradictions and such floating about BUT in general, I feel (as I've said before) the "happy feelings" the park is generating is letting some people (as above) rather gloss over the concept of property rights. No, we're not the United States and yes, expropriations happen but I'm still amazed how little regard some people seem to have for the notion that just MAYBE Craft/ORCA legally own the land and just MAYBE they have some rights here, notwithstanding what a great idea Raildeck Park may be.

EDIT: Not sure if this is the exact article I remember but it's the same idea:
-They claim they've been working on it since 2012
-They say they told Cressy about it long before Raildeck Park was announced (something he confirms here)


Does this prove anything about INTERNAL city discussions? No - but it doesn't make them look forthright, at best.
Does any of this change the opinion of anyone here about whether they were tabling a "serious" development proposal or whether the City has been totally on the up-and-up here? Doubt it.
But the answer to your question is, "Yes." There is no evidence the park plan predates the development plan.
 
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ADRM

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You say "aggressive attempt to extract value," and I say that if they are the legal landowners, they have every right to do so. If they're not... less so.
"Ownership of a piece of land" is an entirely different notion from "ownership of a piece of land that the proponent assumes carries full redevelopment potential", but you're assuming the latter is automatically the case in any instance where the former has occurred.

If a proponent makes an aggressive assumption of the value of a site it has purchased based on what it thinks it can achieve from an approvals perspective, that's on them. The City's mandate is not -- and should not be -- to ensure it unlocks value for speculative projects; its mandate should be to deliver the best outcomes for its citizens while doing so within a reasonable frame that allows for the efficient operation of the private economy. No aspect of the City's actions in this process have made me think that they are falling down on the second part of that responsibility.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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"Ownership of a piece of land" is an entirely different notion from "ownership of a piece of land that the proponent assumes carries full redevelopment potential", but you're assuming the latter is automatically the case in any instance where the former has occurred.
You're making a political argument, definitely not a legal one. As a "notion," all you're doing is adding adjectives..

If the government wants to seize the house in which you live to build a park or a highway or something else, what you're using it for or its development potential is not relevant. If you own some field under a hydro tower and the government wants that, obviously that's the same legal issue. All that changes is the determination of "fair market value" when it comes to the expropriation process.

It doesn't matter to me at all how that turns out here. If the city expropriates and Craft only gets a small amount of money, based on the determination the land wasn't developable, so be it. they lost their gamble, perhaps. Lawyers can make those arguments,. But the political question you'll have to deal with is how taxpayers will feel if the same process results in a valuation of $50M/acre, and whether the City can afford that.

The problem is if people keep acting like there's no difference between the City proposing a park on land it doesn't own and it deciding to build a park on land it DOES own (either because it's already public or because it was dedicated to them as part of a development proposal). They can justify the need for the park and maybe they have - I've never said otherwise. But they still have to acquire the land, one way or another and you can't pretend it's simply a non-issue based on the merits of the park and/or how one regards the merits of the Craft proposal. Either they have rights here or they don't. Plus we're dealing with AIR RIGHTS too, so nothing is entirely clear. That's all I'm saying.
 

karledice

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The $1,7B cost will be recovered. Look at Millenium Park in Chicago or the High Line in NYC.
How many tourists go there every year?
All the money brought in from supporting services and money going into the economy.
Non monetary wise how cool do Chicago and NYC look with their decked parks and place their name in the urban innovation cities?
We want that in Toronto right?
The cost will be recovered both monetary and goodwill for the city.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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No one has said they don't want the park.
No one looks at the renderings (at least speaking for myself) and says, "I don't want this!" or "Parks are worthless!" or "Tourists will never come here!" or anything like that.
My criticism is not of the idea but of the process.

And the parks you list (both of which I have been to, as a tourist) were paid, in large part, by private money. The High Line, in particular, was almost entirely citizen driven. They raised over $100M, IIRC. Millenium Park was way over budget and very expensive. And those cities also have financial tools the City of Toronto does not have (and as I said in a previous post, the uncertainty around Section 37 and parkland dedication could make things even worse in that regard). I don't know how much this thing will cost but if you believe it's $1.7B, I have a subway in Scarborough I'd like to sell you. I bet it's at least twice $1.7B, when all is said and done.

So neither Chicago nor NYC are really good comparisons, except at a superficial level. They are new parks on reclaimed land and they have been successes as tourist draws and (at least in the case of the High Line) spurring economic development or gentrification, depending on your POV. The High Line isn't even a decked park; rather the opposite. Atlantic Yards and Hudson Yards are both NYC examples of decking over rail and if you want to slam ORCA/Craft, the latter is definitely a good example (so far, it seems) of development of how to do it in a way that doesn't provide the right kind of public spaces.

Private $ could materialize here (it did for the Bentway after all), but we don't have a strong history of it the way they do in the USA. What we do have a strong history of is announcing expensive things that don't/can't get built and of wasting money on boondoggles we don't need.

That is the source of my concerns - not the idea of turning that "dead" land into a major, landmark green space for the city.
 

crs1026

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It doesn't matter to me at all how that turns out here. If the city expropriates and Craft only gets a small amount of money, based on the determination the land wasn't developable, so be it. they lost their gamble, perhaps. Lawyers can make those arguments,. But the political question you'll have to deal with is how taxpayers will feel if the same process results in a valuation of $50M/acre, and whether the City can afford that.
There's a risk in taking the whole thing too literally. It's clearly a negotiation, possibly to be settled by a third party based on legal arguments. The seller (doesn't matter if they sell voluntarily or under the weight of expropriation) will claim their property is worth an absurdly huge amount, the buyer will argue it's worth little or nothing. Neither argument is realistic, but that's how the game is played. Adding lawyers just guarantees that the arguments, while technically on point, will be absurd at face value. Not being lawyers, we are merely spectators. Even if we were lawyers, one will win and one will lose, so their opinions on the way in are best taken with salt.

I am a big fan of "final offer selection" arbitration in these situations, but some enjoy the gamesmanship. Deals happen faster and more fairly when the parties are more afraid of what a third party may say, than when they are convinced they will win in court.

Nobody should assume this will be priced as a fire sale. Nevertheless, the park is a good deal for the City..

- Paul
 

EastYorkTTCFan

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I think it's an interesting plan but when I look at it I have many questions for example if by the time they start building it Metrolink hasn't figured out electrifying the Go network will they have to factor in something to deal with exhaust from diesel engines, even if Go transit is electrified as far as I know there are no plans for VIA rail to be so they may still need to have ventilation for them. Another question I have is how do they plan to construct it with an active rail line underneath it?
 

TossYourJacket

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I think it's an interesting plan but when I look at it I have many questions for example if by the time they start building it Metrolink hasn't figured out electrifying the Go network will they have to factor in something to deal with exhaust from diesel engines, even if Go transit is electrified as far as I know there are no plans for VIA rail to be so they may still need to have ventilation for them. Another question I have is how do they plan to construct it with an active rail line underneath it?
It's very possible to build over an active rail corridor, CIBC Square just did it on the other side of Union. You just do the necessary work at track level at night, and after a certain point you have enough of a structure that it won't impact track level and work can happen during the day again.
 

BurlOak

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To build a bridge over a Railway, the Railway Safety Act is cited and the Railway board grants permission to build over the tracks. Typically, this is for a standard allowance of 7.2m height (from rail) and width of the ROW at worst, or often to the number of existing tracks.
So from a clearance point of view - the dimension is set. As for bridge supports, that can be a point of contention, but the ultimate power to grant permission for the bridge lies with a gov't agency.
I would think this is just a very wide bridge.
 

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