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King and Spadina is neither sleepy nor seedy. About 19,000 people now live in the one-square-kilometre area, a number that the city estimates could grow to 40,000. Brett’s old building has been gutted and rebuilt; the pub is now a Starbucks. One of the best chocolatiers in Canada is nearby. The sidewalks, which were always empty, are jammed with lunching Web developers and mothers on mat leave. A dozen new condo buildings have gone up within a block, and more are coming: If one developer gets its way, 525 King will be engulfed by a mountain-shaped stack of 630 apartment units.
Rail Deck Park, if it is built, will be a few steps away. This week, City Council voted unanimously to study the proposal for a 21-acre park above the rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way, right in this neighbourhood. It would be expensive. It would be complicated. It would be big.
But not big enough. A 21-acre park, by itself, won’t match the galloping growth of this area, which is absorbing thousands of new housing units that Toronto’s established neighbourhoods are fighting to keep out and pumping up the city’s coffers in the process.
This is why the planning department is thinking big. It has a much broader Parks and Public Realm Plan for the downtown, part of TOcore – a still-larger effort to rethink the policies that are guiding growth. […]