TORONTO - A Toronto councillor is calling for the federal government to stop the “secret schemes” around the future of Downsview Park and hand it over to the city.
Ward 9-North York councillor Maria Augimeri said Monday she has learned through a source that Canada Lands Company (CLC), a real estate arm of the federal government that has held stewardship of Downsview since November 2012, has asked city officials to revisit the park’s “official plan” reached two years ago of allowing for 10,000 residential units to be built there.
Augimeri says she and her constituents are concerned this could lead to even more development in the space, something she insisted would threaten keeping a large portion of Downsview Park as just that — a park.
She urged the federal government to “set Downsview free” and hand it over to “the people” of Toronto.
“Today we learned that Canada Lands has been asking if the city is prepared to revisit the official plan passed by the Ontario Municipal Board,” said Augimeri, who called Downsview Park “the last remaining large space in Toronto, made up of mature woodlots, open green space, (and) recreational areas.”
She said the feds area seeing “dollar signs” and Downsview Park “should not be for sale.”
“Stop selling our parkland. The fate of Downsview (Park) should not be decided in a back room in Ottawa. It should be given to the people of Toronto. We can create the vision that Downsview deserves, inclusive of community concerns, and build this park for everyone.”
Augimeri couldn’t say how Toronto would manage or pay for the upkeep of such a large piece of land.
She also pointed to a recent news report around an internal memo from a Ministry of Public Works official expressing concern over the future of the park.
The local councillor was joined by mayoral candidate David Soknacki, a former Downsview Park chairman.
“The mandate of … Downsview Park has always been more than a real estate transaction,” Soknacki said, adding the park needs to be for citizens — both young and old — who visit it for its natural features.
“We’ve been here to deliver a park in perpetuity ... to make sure that the seniors who are surrounding us here have places where they can actually enjoy the park,” he said.
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