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Rail Deck Park (?, ?, ?)

Northern Light

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Debate, what debate?

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zot627

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CBC is closer to getting the story right. I like the quote from Brian Johnston "We kind of know what we can pay, and what we want to pay, but it's nowhere near what they think we should be paying." It explains why the parties are at an impasse and also explains why the City is going after three acres first. Expropriation will be based on highest and best use. OP395 won't affect value. Should be entertaining.
 

crs1026

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A random thought: Minister Mulroney just announced intent to pass a law facilitating land acquisition and approvals for the four top-priority transit projects in the GTA.

I’m wondering - will any of that legislation assist or enable what the City is about to do with the Rail Deck Park?

Supposedly the legislation will only apply to those four specific projects, given the urgency of getting shovels in the ground.

One wonders if the Rail Deck has sufficient priority that it ought to be written in as Toronto’s other high-priority project. In for four, in for five.....at the very least, getting whatever work will be done to the USRC before it is covered over might be worth expediting. But hey, if the new law could change the position of the developers who are fighting the city.....

No harm in asking.

- Paul
 

zot627

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A random thought: Minister Mulroney just announced intent to pass a law facilitating land acquisition and approvals for the four top-priority transit projects in the GTA.

I’m wondering - will any of that legislation assist or enable what the City is about to do with the Rail Deck Park?

Supposedly the legislation will only apply to those four specific projects, given the urgency of getting shovels in the ground.

One wonders if the Rail Deck has sufficient priority that it ought to be written in as Toronto’s other high-priority project. In for four, in for five.....at the very least, getting whatever work will be done to the USRC before it is covered over might be worth expediting. But hey, if the new law could change the position of the developers who are fighting the city.....

No harm in asking.

- Paul

Paul, there is no fight between developers and the City. The air rights the City needs for Rail Deck Park were purchased by the current owners in December 2013, years before Rail Deck Park was announced. Apparently the City has not been able to acquire the air rights by negotiation, but that's not a fight. Private land owners don't have to sell their land at a price that is less than what they think it's worth. If the City wants to move forward with Rail Deck Park, they do not need legislation to get the air rights. They can simply expropriate under the Expropriations Act, which ensures ownership of air rights are transferred to the City very quickly (months) and the owners are compensated at fair market value. What are you hoping the new legislation will accomplish?
 

crs1026

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Paul, there is no fight between developers and the City. The air rights the City needs for Rail Deck Park were purchased by the current owners in December 2013, years before Rail Deck Park was announced. Apparently the City has not been able to acquire the air rights by negotiation, but that's not a fight. Private land owners don't have to sell their land at a price that is less than what they think it's worth. If the City wants to move forward with Rail Deck Park, they do not need legislation to get the air rights. They can simply expropriate under the Expropriations Act, which ensures ownership of air rights are transferred to the City very quickly (months) and the owners are compensated at fair market value. What are you hoping the new legislation will accomplish?

Not having more than the Minister's speech to go on, I can only speculate. It just seemed to me that if a newer, more streamlined process were arrived at, the Rail Deck Park is such an important initiative that it might be just as worthy of it as well as the transit projects. If I had to pick one City project to expedite, this is it. What's good for the goose.....

My theory is that an expedited expropriation process may be enacted as an alternative to what can be a lengthy trip through the courts.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the whole thrust for this legislation is the government's realization that the land acquisition effort for the Ontario Line under normal channels will not be complete until after the next election, or two. The older Relief Line only ran from University to Danforth, where the new line will extend from Ontario Place(ish) to Eglinton. That's potentially a lot more property to be acquired, even just for station entrances and exit shafts, some of it downtown as well. And while the Relief Line planning might have started the ball on land acquisition, with the extended scope the Province may have to really pick up the pace to get this project expedited.

As with the Rail Deck Park some of the land may be felt by current owners to have very high market value. So the expropriation process might well become, well, a fight, or at least a lengthy court case, just to determine the fair value.

Obviously a key question for any new process would be how market price would be determined. Again, I have a sneaking suspicion that the government will not trust the existing adjudicative process to give it a good price for the Ontario Line lands. The legislation may tip the scales in their favour. If they can do that for transit, why would they not avail the City of the same process to set the price for the Rail Deck rights? Pretty hard for Ontario Line property owners to see their value set in a way which is less provident than what the Rail Deck air rights owners enjoy. I would argue that both the Ontario Line and the Rail Deck Park are destiny projects for the city, so why not offer equal treatment. (The alternative conspiracy theory is that the government is willing to pad the purchase price to get quick agreement, but then no new process would be needed, so I'm discounting that theory)

In any negotiation, the prospect of going before a third party tends to sober people up from their opening position. Some deals happen just from the fear of what an arbitrator might decide. Possibly a new expedited process might bring the Rail Deck rights owners and the City closer together without even getting to court. I have seen expedited dispute processes create this shift in labour negotiations, real estate can't be much different.

As I said, all based on speculation until we see the legislation.

- Paul
 
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zot627

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...Possibly the expedited process might bring the Rail Deck rights owners and the City closer together without even getting to court.

If the City really wanted to acquire the air rights quickly, they could. They can expropriate immediately based on what they think the air rights are worth. The final value will be decided by independent appraisers. They may be concerned that the land may be worth a lot more than they've been offering. Once they expropriate, there's no turning back.

There's nothing wrong with the City or the Province paying fair market value to achieve their goals. In the case of the Ontario Line, the fact that the relief line will benefit many people shouldn't impact compensation to affected property owners. I'm sure the contractors and suppliers who build and operate the line will not provide their services at a discount because the project is socially important. Why should we expect affected landowners to sell at a discount?

If there's a faster way to ensure property owners receive fair compensation from government than what's provided under the current Expropriation Act , I'm all for it.
 

BurlOak

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Let me get this straight.
  1. Rail Deck Park is a planned 21 acre park that Toronto would pay for at about $1.7B, entirely tax payer money.
  2. This proposal is for 8-45 storey high office tower and residential space, and 12.8 acres of parkland - paid for entirely by the developers.
This is a no-brainer. Of course you go with option #2.

I recall John Tory did a study on Ontario Place and suggested building 1 or 2 condos to help pay for the restoration of the park. It was obviously the best choice - but for some strange reason Kathleen Wynne killed it. If Tory is in charge of this decision - he would be wise to accept the developers proposal and not let the kooks on council kill it.
 

karledice

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Let me get this straight.
  1. Rail Deck Park is a planned 21 acre park that Toronto would pay for at about $1.7B, entirely tax payer money.
  2. This proposal is for 8-45 storey high office tower and residential space, and 12.8 acres of parkland - paid for entirely by the developers.
This is a no-brainer. Of course you go with option #2.

I recall John Tory did a study on Ontario Place and suggested building 1 or 2 condos to help pay for the restoration of the park. It was obviously the best choice - but for some strange reason Kathleen Wynne killed it. If Tory is in charge of this decision - he would be wise to accept the developers proposal and not let the kooks on council kill it.

Not an office tower and a residential place. 8 towers in total.
Infrastructure doesn't support that here at all and it's not going to be a real park, it's a small outdoor space for the sake of getting approval that people don't end up using.
Think Millenium park in Chicago built on rail deck as well and all the monetary and non monetary values Chicago gets. The millions of tourists go there annually.
It would pay for itself with all the tourist money, vendors, tourism boost to restaurants nearby, the cool "it" factor etc.
 

WislaHD

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  1. Rail Deck Park is a planned 21 acre park that Toronto would pay for at about $1.7B, entirely tax payer money.
No, it is not tax-payer money.

It is largely Section 42 money that cannot be used for purposes other than public park space, a lot of which is earmarked specifically to the downtown area as it was collected from downtown development.

I don't believe the provincial changes with the community benefits charge (which replaced S42) will impact existing collected S42 funds, so unless someone tells me otherwise, the money already exists and is just collecting interest until we find a purpose for it (such as the Rail Deck Park).
 

WislaHD

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Not an office tower and a residential place. 8 towers in total.
Infrastructure doesn't support that here at all and it's not going to be a real park, it's a small outdoor space for the sake of getting approval that people don't end up using.
Think Millenium park in Chicago built on rail deck as well and all the monetary and non monetary values Chicago gets. The millions of tourists go there annually.
It would pay for itself with all the tourist money, vendors, tourism boost to restaurants nearby, the cool "it" factor etc.
The views of the city from this park would be fantastic, and instagrammable (which like it or not, drives the "cool" factor nowadays)
 

crs1026

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I don't believe the provincial changes with the community benefits charge (which replaced S42) will impact existing collected S42 funds, so unless someone tells me otherwise, the money already exists and is just collecting interest until we find a purpose for it (such as the Rail Deck Park).

I’m not able to access it at the moment, but there is an annual report to Council documenting what the S42 reserves are. From memory, the amount is far less than what would be needed to fund this project, and that would pretty much end funding for any small park opportunities that may arise. So no, the money isn’t sitting ready with interest accruing. The taxpayer is on the hook.

I always figured the end result would be a compromise with some development on the space and some parkland set aside. It’s crucial that the City strike the best deal possible... it’s a pure win-lose negotiation. The developers will want as much as possible, as will the City. Tory strikes me as the kind of guy who blinks first. So I’m fearful.

- Paul
 

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