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Rail Deck Park (?, ?, ?)

TJ O'Pootertoot

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Fortunately for all of us we're still in a democracy and there are rules that govern the process by which government takes your land. https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90e26
...or your air :) But well said. There's a whole process of the government demonstrating they need it, the owners being able to appeal etc.

I suspect, as others have said, the real question won't be WHEN the value is determined but whether the City tries to/is able to argue the value isn't much - because it's only usable as parkland now - or whether the owners are able to value is based on it being suitable for development. So there's Hearing of Necessity and LPAT issues long before we start worrying about the court system, per se.

Between all that and the funding situation, the timeline for the park seems....long. Obviously no development could proceed until these issues are resolved either. Last we heard, the parties weren't even talking to each other but I wonder if the changing circumstances have gotten them even floating the idea of some kind of settlement.
 

zot627

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Just a question,
why wouldn't the city just claim the airspace as 'eminent domain'? what's stopping them?
As I have previously posted, the City has the right to expropriate the airspace at any time. There would be a Hearing of Necessity but the expropriation almost certainly would be approved. According to the law, they have to pay fair market value according to highest and best use for the land. In the post above, TJ O'Pootertoot suggests the value would not be much because "it's only usable as parkland now". Not true. OP395 designated these lands for future parkland, but was upheld at LPAT without prejudice to the current owner's development application. The City didn't argue that a park was the highest and best use for the land. They argued it was necessary, and that designating the lands for a public park was compliant with planning policy.

The owner of the land did not object to OP395 based on the park use. Their planner agreed that OP395 was one of the permitted uses under the existing secondary plan and planning policies. Their objection was that the City designated the land for a public park but had no concrete plans to acquire the air rights. Private owners can't build a public park, so in order for OP395 to be implemented the City has to acquire the air rights. The panel dismissed the appeal, but did it without prejudice to the developer's private application which will be heard at a 9 week hearing starting this November. If the private appeal is upheld, which it likely will be, the City can still go ahead with Rail Deck Park but they will have to move quickly.

The minute the City initiates expropriation proceedings, there's no turning back. They know they will be exposed to significant financial risk. Their position in the January 2020 staff report suggests they know this and have decided to test the waters with the three acre parcel east of Spadina. They will most likely end up paying a lot for that land but at three acres it won't break the bank. Combined with Oxford's park on the east side of Blue Jays Way, it will give them 7 acres of parkland in that area.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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In the post above, TJ O'Pootertoot suggests the value would not be much because "it's only usable as parkland now". Not true.
Very well described!

Just to be clear, I was not making that argument. I was saying others here have tried to argue, effectively, now that the city won that point on parkland, that they can get the land for cheaper. I was writing that sardonically and agree with you that this is wishful thinking, at best.

(and in reference to the question you were answering, we obviously have a system for expropriation but it's not identical to the USA concept of "eminent domain")
 
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lenaitch

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Rules differ between nations but expropriation is the Canadian equivalent of eminent domain. 'Condemnation' is another term. Regardless of the variations in process and terms, fair compensation to the owner is a common requirement.
 

urbanfuturist

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The rail deck idea is a good one, but we shouldn't act too fast. As self driving cars become available and GO and VIA service is discontinued, Union Station will be without purpose. As such, the rail deck can just be built on existing rail lands. Pull up the track and replace it with a linear park, much as St. Thomas has done.
 

north-of-anything

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The rail deck idea is a good one, but we shouldn't act too fast. As self driving cars become available and GO and VIA service is discontinued, Union Station will be without purpose. As such, the rail deck can just be built on existing rail lands. Pull up the track and replace it with a linear park, much as St. Thomas has done.
Is this satire?
 

Megaton327

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The rail deck idea is a good one, but we shouldn't act too fast. As self driving cars become available and GO and VIA service is discontinued, Union Station will be without purpose. As such, the rail deck can just be built on existing rail lands. Pull up the track and replace it with a linear park, much as St. Thomas has done.
I hate to discourage a new member from posting or seem hostile, but I really can't think of an occasion I've seen where this could be more warranted:

 

lenaitch

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I've been signed onto the forum for about 20 minutes. Three posts of the same theme. Rip it all out, autonomous cars are in the dealers tomorrow!
 

crs1026

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^I can’t imagine that self-driving cars will empty out our downtown to the point where parkland will seem overly abundant. The density will be there either way. The park is the best use of that land/air towards the quality of life in the city center.

I suspect the court process will go on for a very long time. Neither side has much reason to look for a quick negotiated deal. The vendors will (with reason) feel that this is about the most valuable real estate in the downtown, and will argue the price as such. The City faces enormous sticker shock with the voter, and will want a court decision that nobody can pin on their reputation. Somebody may feel their case is not going well and blink, but only after a lot of argument and cross examination.

- Paul
 

urbanflight

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This park will become a tourism magnet like Millennium Park in Chicago.

It will bring lots of tourism dollars into the coffers of the city of Toronto which can be used to spend on transit and other areas.

This park needs to be done right. Toronto should hire the same people who built and designed Millennium Park.
I truly like the idea of the rail corridor to be covered by a major park, but in terms of priorities, for me, at this moment, it could be way better for the city to invest those $1-4 billion in mass rapid transit. The city chronically lacks of investments in transit.

Same for the $1 billion being wasted in repairs for the archaic, disruptive Gardiner Expressway that goes right through the city core. On top of the hundred millions already wasted in the past years in that inefficient highway. That $1 billion could be better spent in transit.

If John Tory truly wants more green space in the city core, he wouldn't have opposed the demolition of the Gardiner, that could have freed so much public space.

The Seoul's highway removal, and the renaturalization of the site, costed them $359m. The place has become a major tourist attraction, thus with major financial and ecological benefits for the city.

Tearing down the Gardiner Expressway could save the city at least $500 million.

Toronto, now:



Seoul's highway removal:





 

W. K. Lis

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I truly like the idea of the rail corridor to be covered by a major park, but in terms of priorities, for me, at this moment, it could be way better for the city to invest those $1-4 billion in mass rapid transit. The city chronically lacks of investments in transit.

...
The park will cover a major PUBLIC TRANSIT corridor, namely the GO Train lines. Covering them will benefit the operations, by protecting the track switches from ice and snow accumulating, along with protecting the electrical overhead catenary for the electrical trains. Would be nice if they could continue "a" rail deck park to the east of Union Station.
 

Amare

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I love when people say we should tear down the Gardiner.

Ok so let's tear down the Gardiner:

1) All the traffic would be dumped on local streets due to the lack available alternatives, making commute times even worse.
2) Our transit system is a mess, so it wouldnt be able to handle the increased demand, thus Point #1 above would be amplified.
3) We would very likely see more condos developed on-site where the Gardiner once stood, which would again amplify Point #1.

There are so many other complications involved with tearing it down, I wont even get started.
 

BejewelledCarp

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I love when people say we should tear down the Gardiner.

Ok so let's tear down the Gardiner:

1) All the traffic would be dumped on local streets due to the lack available alternatives, making commute times even worse.
2) Our transit system is a mess, so it wouldnt be able to handle the increased demand, thus Point #1 above would be amplified.
3) We would very likely see more condos developed on-site where the Gardiner once stood, which would again amplify Point #1.

There are so many other complications involved with tearing it down, I wont even get started.
This isn't really the right thread for this discussion, but this is hardly supported. Talking specifically about the East end, the report commissioned by the city found an average increase in car commute time of 2-3 minutes. Further, only 5,200 cars/hour rely on the Gardiner (from the East) to get to work (that's 3% of Toronto commuting trips). Further, we all know about the strongly-supported phenomenon of induced demand, and its corollary, disappearing traffic. Finally, even if the Gardiner's space was replaced by condos, those would all be within cycling or even walking distance of the core, so wouldn't contribute much to traffic.

 

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