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).
Even if you're right about the impacts of the new CBC (which I don't think is certain), Section 42 money is not remotely enough to cover the cost. Someone out there might have the exact numbers but I believe the entirety of the City's Section 42 stash would cover something like 10% of the costs. So...no.
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.
People keep comparing this to Millennium Park but, In relation to the point above, who paid for Millennium Park? What percentage of the budget was taxpayer money? Was it under budget? And while we're at it, who owned the land before the City of Chicago decided to build a park there? Was it a private developer with their own plan? The park's Wikipedia page will help one start to find some of the answers!
I mean, all this stuff is just minor details....
Here's the reality few want to accept:
-The City has long history of being cheap and a Constitutional restriction on what it can do raise more money, if it wants to spend more. There are far too many examples to even begin listing them, notwithstanding the mayor's recent bravery on property taxes;
-The Bentway might be the closest parallel to this but A) a private donation made that happen B) This is a wholly different scale.
-Aside from it's physical form, there are many differences with Millenium Park, which is typically cited as the equivalent.
-As currently structured, they don't have the property tax $ or any other means, including Section 42, to fund this.
-They don't own the land/air rights.
It's a great idea! The renderings look beautiful! The City has won an early, important LPAT decision! They're still grossly glossing over how hard it will be to actually pull this off when, specific numbers of towers etc. aside, there is an argument to be made that a compromise with the developer is far more desirable and practical; obviously, IF it's a compromise that meet's the City's needs. But if the entire plan is to talk tough, expropriate and wing it with the almost $2B-cost, something's going to give, eventually.