A group of young students from Orde Park Public School made a visit to Toronto city hall on Thursday to have their voices heard on a downtown park project.
The group of eight- and nine-year-olds appeared before the City’s executive committee to present their ideas on what they’d like to see at Rail Deck Park, the proposed elevated green space above the Union Station rail corridor between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way.
The students said they would like to see a petting zoo, an animal sanctuary and an exercise space for children among other ideas.
“We could also set up a petting zoo there for the kids and the environment and it could also create a unique tourist attraction park,” said a student.
“The money that we will get from the petting zoo can help fund for the animal sanctuary and the park.”
Coun. Joe Cressy said the idea came up about six months ago when a teacher from the school reached out to him about judging the students’ designs of the park as part of a class project.
“I spent probably the best three hours of my time as a city councillor at the school in the classroom with a bunch of seven- and eight-year-olds as they presented their vision for the future Rail Deck Park,” he said.
“I promised them at that time that if there was ever a chance we’d make sure that they got to share it with the mayor directly and so when we heard that this item was going to be on the executive committee, well they all took a sick day this morning and came down with their parents and principal to show their dreams for the future.”
Meanwhile, the committee voted unanimously to move forward with acquiring the air rights to the 1.2 hectares of airspace where the park will be built.
The City is currently involved in a dispute with a developer over who owns the rights to the airspace, but Cressy said if things don’t go according to plan they could look at the possibility of expropriation.
Construction could begin as early as 2022.