Friday, July 6, 2012
Wong-Tam wants Wellesley St. vacant lot turned into a park
The Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale councillor wants the province to hand over the stretch of vacant land in her ward to help create a park with a Green P lot possibly underneath it rather than sell it off for a quick buck.
“It would be a wonderful, wonderful contribution to the community,” Wong-Tam told the Sun Friday. “We are an area in the city that has received more intensification through density and growth than most parts of the city. We are the most development heavy ward of Toronto with more anticipated growth that has already exceeded the provincial growth targets set forth by the province. We also happen to be one of the areas in Toronto with the lowest percentile measurement for people to park ratio.”
Wong-Tam will ask city council to sign off next week on the city starting up negotiations with Infrastructure Ontario to get the 2.1 acres of land that runs along Wellesley St. W. between Bay St. and Yonge St.
The land was donated to the province in the late 1980’s and was going to be the site of a new ballet and opera house designed by architect Moshe Safdie.
Although all three levels of government had pledged a total of $173 million for the project, it was withdrawn in the early 1990’s as the economy collapsed and the province tightened its belt.
Wong-Tam points out the site has been abandoned for the last 20 years except for the “brief appearance” of a temporary skateboard park.
“This particular site has been a real eyesore in the community because it has actually been completely fenced off and there is no animation,” she said.
The councillor said she’s already approached the Toronto Parking Authority about joining talks with the city and the province about the site.
“It will be good for the city, it will be good for the TPA and certainly good if we could actually build in a formula and a business plan that will actually help operate the park in the long run,” she said.
The province has declared the property as surplus. Selling $285 million of surplus property this fiscal year is part of the fiscal plan cabinet has approved.
David Salter, a spokesman for Infrastructure Ontario minister Bob Chiarelli, stressed the property is listed for sale.
“If the City has an interest in the site, they can contact the broker that is managing the sale of the property for further information,” Salter said in an e-mail Friday.
He refused to discuss an estimated value of the land stressing the properties are being sold in an “open, fair and competitive process.”
“Discussion about the value of the land could harm the sale process,” he said.