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Development group touts its plan for Toronto rail corridor is better for city than Mayor Tory’s

Development group launches ad campaign to tout their plan over Mayor’s for rail corridor
Fri, Oct 27: The developers' group behind the ORCA Project say their plan for condos and a 12-acre park carries more value than John Tory's park plan. Mark Carcasole reports.

Rail Deck Park, Mayor John Tory’s plan to transform the air space above the rail corridor that runs beside Front Street from Bathurst Street to Blue Jays Way has been highly publicized, but a developer is now speaking out saying they first had plans to develop the site — plans, they claim, are better for the city and everyone in it.

The proposal, set forward by the developers of a condo project called Over Rail Corridor Area (ORCA), is likely to get some more attention in the coming months as the group launches a new multimedia ad campaign for TV, radio and online promoting the project.

The developers said their plan would build eight multi-use towers on the land, while preserving 12-acres for park space.

READ MORE: Rail Deck Park would cost millions more than other Toronto landmarks

The group also said the development is funded by a public-private partnership, and wouldn’t be a burden on taxpayers the way they claim Tory’s 21-acre park – estimated at over a billion public dollars — will be.

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“We have an economically feasible development which includes a major park component,” Peter Griffis, CEO of Craft Development Corporation told Global News.

Griffis also said that they had the idea first and have already been promised the air rights to build above the rail lines.

“The city only owns technically the air rights where the pedestrian bridge crosses,” Griffis said, adding they have a “legal binding agreement that is completely firm.”

Toronto city councillor Joe Cressy, an avid supporter of Tory’s plan told Global News that Craft Development’s plan is “just noise” and is “dead on arrival.”

READ MORE: Toronto’s chief planner looks for public input to create more space downtown

Cressy said he is familiar with the development group’s plan but that simply having the idea first doesn’t mean they’re entitled to the project.

“The City of Toronto formally decided more than a year ago that our official policy will be that the rail deck will be a park,” Cressy said.

“And it is up to the city to determine the land use designation for land and air.”

The city would have to buy the air rights from the developers of ORCA if Tory’s plan is approved, so the group said it still stands to make money on the situation, but regardless — Griffis doesn’t feel Tory’s plan is right for Toronto.

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City Hall still has a lot of debate left to do before a plan is approved.

The developers of ORCA said they won’t fight the city if they choose to go another way but going to the Ontario Municipal Board is still an option.