Metrolinx announces more park space for Ontario Line east

Metrolinx is releasing updated details for the eastern stretch of the Ontario Line, with refined plans that reveal the opportunity to create even more green space alongside existing community parks. As plans progress for the Ontario Line, it’s clear that almost all of the above-ground section through Riverside and Leslieville will fit inside the property boundaries of the existing rail corridor, owned by Metrolinx – and in some places, sections of the existing rail corridor will be released to make parks larger.

Jimmie Simpson Park, Bruce Mackey Park, McCleary Playground and the Gerrard-Carlaw Parkette and dog park will be larger when the Ontario Line opens because of new green space the project will unlock. The transit agency announced this today (June 24) alongside plans to replace aging railway bridges in the area and updated details for three stations along the Ontario Line’s eastern segment.

Image shows a park
Jimmie Simpson Park will grow under Ontario Line design plans. (Metrolinx photo)

“We’ve heard how important park space is to the people of Riverside and Leslieville, and people are at the centre of our decision making,” said Malcolm MacKay, program sponsor for the Ontario Line. “What we’ve found is that we’re able to actually increase the amount of green space in the area, and we are now working with the City of Toronto to see what park improvements we can introduce as part of the Ontario Line project.”

The new green space is possible because new noise and retaining walls will fit almost entirely within the existing GO rail corridor and will be even closer to the tracks than the fence that borders them today.

Once the walls are in place, the existing fences will be removed to create more green space the community can access. Some small slivers of land beyond the Metrolinx boundary will be needed for new stations, but they will be offset for the community in the long term by the new green space Metrolinx is opening up.

Once the Ontario Line is complete, each of the four parks in the area – Jimmie Simpson Park, Bruce Mackey Park, McCleary Playground and the Gerrard-Carlaw Parkette – will be larger. In total, there will be approximately 2,600 square metres of added green space lining these parks.

Image shows a park
A look at McCleary playground, used by local residents – along with plenty of children. (Metrolinx photo)

“McCleary Playground will be approximately 300 square metres larger because we are able to build our retaining walls within Metrolinx land, closer to the tracks than where the current fence is,” MacKay said.

Image shows a map of Riverside

The same will apply to Jimmie Simpson Park, where approximately 700 square metres of new green space will be added and accessible to the public, thanks to a slimmer rail corridor footprint.

In Bruce Mackey Park, a small sliver of land extending about two metres beyond the rail corridor at the south end of the park is needed for the new Leslieville station. This will be more than made up for by the release of additional green space in the northern section of the park, resulting in approximately 1,100 square metres of net new green space added to this park.

A property next to the Gerrard-Carlaw Parkette and dog park is required to support the construction of the new Gerrard station, but once the construction is complete, it will be added to the parkette. Though some space from the existing parkette will be needed to accommodate the new station, there will be approximately 500 square metres of extra space in the reconfigured park when the neighbouring land is factored in.

Image shows the Gerrard area map.

More green space is only the beginning of the plan.

“We are working with the city to see how we can help improve all park spaces in the area when we’re done with Ontario Line construction,” said MacKay.

“That will include consulting with the community on investments in parks, noise wall materials and surrounding landscaping treatments so that we can ensure park spaces stay beautiful and green as we lower noise levels in the area.”

Online open house

Tonight (June 24) at 6:30, Metrolinx will host an online open house, providing more information about these plans. You can register for the event here.

Story by Mike Winterburn, Metrolinx News senior writer