Former Bathurst Street parking lot could become green space
While plans to turn a long-derelict parcel of land near the foot of Bathurst Street into a city park will take time — if those plans are realized at all — a new concept would see the site activated with a fresh concept for a retail market in the interim.
Ward 19 councillor Mike Layton (Trinity-Spadina) is hoping to convert the property at 28 Bathurst St. into a green space for residents of the rapidly intensifying downtown core. Because the land is not zoned for that purpose, there are steps to be taken to make it a reality.
Complicating the matter is the fact that the site — once a parking lot for the Quality Meat Packers abattoir on Tecumseth Street — is contaminated. While it has been capped and poses no immediate threat, it limits the options for a park space.
As Layton and city staff promote the plan, an idea is underway that would see a shipping-container market open up on the space for two to three years as the park concept overcomes hurdles.
“With all the development going on down in the area and on the other side of Bathurst, it’s important to secure park space,” Layton said at a community meeting at Niagara Junior Public School on Thursday, Jan. 26. “The process we’re looking at to turn the site into park land would take a minimum of three years.”
While the city owns the land, converting it into park space would require provincial and council approval. The fact that the land is city-owned, however, is certainly a point in favour of the plan.
“This will likely be the least expensive two-acre park in the downtown core,” said Layton, noting that buying land downtown runs roughly $50 million per acre, whereas converting that site to a park would likely cost $5 million total.
City of Toronto planner Graig Uens noted there was a prior proposal by Build Toronto to erect three towers with 564 residential units on the site. While that is still technically on the table, it is not front and centre.
He added that turning the site into a park would protect it from further development, which would be a boon to an area that has seen its population explode in recent years. Should the plan not go through, the city could decide to sell the land as surplus.
“When you design a site as a park, it keeps it from being looked at (as a site to sell off,)” he said.
As the park plan goes through the requisite steps, Tusk Global Ltd. is looking at building a shipping container market on the site. The market would feature restaurants, retail, showrooms, services and more in temporary shipping containers, akin to those used in Scadding Court’s Market 707.
Matt Rubinoff of Tusk Global said he plans to promote a mix of locally based social enterprises and experienced brands in the market.
“What we’re looking at doing is pretty unique in this market,” he said.
If approved, the market is expected to open sometime this year.