The City of Toronto is Giving a Free Park

Toronto wants to fix a flooding neighbourhood. The solution: pave a ‘beautiful’ creek running through the area. They’re willing to pay the highest price in the city for that.

It’s not the first time Toronto has tried to make its neighbourhood beautiful. In the 1980s, it built the first of three lakeside promenades — the third one of which was actually completed in 1990 — named after city residents.

This time, however, they’re calling up old friends to get a free gift from the City of Toronto. The Toronto Parks Department, along with Toronto Community Housing, has been in talks with the local developer and property management company in the area for many months.

The city’s hope is that they eventually will build the park alongside the existing promenade. The developer’s hope is that it will happen in a few years. The cost? $1.5-billion.

The property’s value is estimated at around $900 million.

That doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But if you think about it, the city gets a free park, no strings attached. It also avoids the need to build a costly sewer system or pay for a water main. And then a few decades down the road, maybe there’s a swimming pool, a baseball diamond or a fancy baseball field for all the kids in the neighbourhood.

It does make you wonder. What happens when you have a developer with thousands of years of experience in building parks? They may also have a whole lot of experience as real estate developers.

In the case of Parkdale, the land has been zoned as a ‘drainage conservation area,’ which means that the developer is able to build as many parks as it likes. There isn’t much of a need for the existing park system to be expanded, anyway.

If the city is interested in the ‘beautiful’ creek that runs through Parkdale, it needs to build new infrastructure: the sewer lines to treat the water. It also needs to expand and upgrade public transit.

The developer will make money with the new parks. Parkdale is also already making money with its high-end shopping and dining options.

So it’s no surprise that the city is still trying to get a project

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