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Toronto could turn decommissioned Scarborough RT into linear park

The Scarborough RT may be a thing of the past, but a motion headed for city council next week could reimagine the 6.4-kilometre railway as a park of the future.

The motion, put forward by Scarborough North Coun. Jamaal Myers and seconded by Coun. Paul Ainslie, tasks the heads of CreateTO and other city agencies with identifying “opportunities for the development of a new linear park and active transportation corridor” on the existing infrastructure.

New York’s beloved High Line and Atlanta’s Beltline are referenced among other examples as to what the project could look like, both of which used former railways to create new spaces in those cities.

“The possibility of converting the elevated right-of-way portions of Line 3 into an iconic linear public park and mobility space remains an important act of city-building,” the motions reads, noting that council already voted to explore the feasibility of such a project back in 2013 and 2022.

The motion underscores that Scarborough residents have the longest TTC commutes, the least amount of biking infrastructure and the highest rates of pedestrian deaths in the city. By creating a linear park, residents would have better access to jobs, culture and entertainment, shopping, green space, and housing options built along the corridor, the councillors argue.

New York's High Line

Residents in the area have already expressed interest in a project like the one proposed, and during public consultations late last year, respondents welcomed the opportunity to reinvent the space.

The TTC announced in August that Scarborough’s Line 3 would be decommissioned ahead of schedule after a train derailed a month earlier and injured five people. The line was scheduled to go out of service indefinitely on Nov. 18.

Express buses have since taken the place of a rapid transit line and Mayor Olivia Chow has said the city will fully fund the construction of a dedicated Scarborough busway.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s underground Scarborough Subway Extension isn’t expected to be finished before 2030.

The motion will go before city council on Wednesday. If approved, the findings on the project’s feasibility will be presented in a report by the end of the third quarter of 2024.