After a failed attempt to create new greenspace downtown with Rail Deck Park, a similar idea is being proposed for the Davisville neighbourhood and hopes are high that it will become a reality.
In late May, a new rail deck park was proposed near Yonge St. and Chaplin Crescent, where the TTC’s headquarters currently resides and Davisville Yard, where trains are fixed and maintained. The idea is to construct a deck over the tracks at the site to create about a hectare of new public space, along with renovating the TTC building and adding affordable housing, cultural spaces and social services.
The work yard would remain and be improved, with the possibility of it moving underground, according to local councillor Josh Matlow.
The idea of decking over rail tracks is exactly what was proposed with downtown’s Rail Deck Park, which unfortunately was derailed due to the city not owning the air rights above the site. Condos are currently proposed for the location.
Matlow, though, said that this midtown location will be different because the city owns both the land and air rights.
“We don’t have the same obstacles here in midtown as they did with Rail Deck Park to realize our vision over the subway tracks,” he said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to expand the park space.”
The project will include redevelopment to help pay for it, Matlow said, but since the site is owned by the city, it can be shaped to meet the needs of the community rather than having to compromise with a developer.
A community consultation meeting has already taken place in which the principles of how the site will be developed were discussed, according to Deer Park Residents Group President Cathie Macdonald. Those principles include keeping the heritage aspects of the TTC building and to provide community facilities and affordable housing.
She said the idea for a new rail deck park is a “wonderful initiative” and has been pleased so far with the amount of community consultation. Matlow said that what will be included in the new space will be based on community input.
Macdonald said a new sportsfield was one idea, as well as an off-leash dog park.
“More park space is needed in the area,” she said. “We’ve got the cemetery across the street, but that’s private space, they can close it off.”
Matlow said a city report on the site should be available later in the year and hopes to see “significant traction” on the idea this year.