COVID-19 laid bare the necessity for our park spaces and public realm. The reality of urban living is that residents have limited access to green spaces and therefore our parks are not only an asset but a requirement for residents to enjoy the benefits of nature and being outdoors to engage in social and recreational activity. Equitable access to our parks is critical for mental wellness and allows anyone access regardless of socio-economic factors.
Located at Queen and Sherbourne, bordered by Shuter Street to the north, and George Street to the east, Moss Park spans almost a full city block. This 3.4 hectare downtown park features a lit ball diamond, two tennis courts, a basketball court, a wading pool and a children's playground. It’s accessed by a diverse range of people, especially our marginalized and vulnerable populations due to its close proximity to surrounding social and health services.
Since 2015, Moss Park has been long overdue for an updated design and improvement to John Innes Community Centre. As part of this work, with the 519 and a philanthropic partner, extensive community consultations and a feasibility study were completed to design a revitalized Moss Park to better serve the community. However, after extensive analysis, the partnership came to the conclusion that the project, as envisioned, was not feasible at that time and would not move forward in its current form. However, key takeaways from the More Moss Park consultation process will be carried forward to inform this new round of work.
Concurrently at the City of Toronto works to redesign, and reinvigorate Moss Park to better serve the community, Metrolinx will be taking over a large section of the park to facilitate building the Ontario Line. The South-East corner of Moss Park will become a station along the proposed Ontario Line. The reality is that Moss Park will be home to a massive construction staging plan as the City and Metrolinx will be coordinating their activity. The timeline for construction is long-term- with construction planned for over 5 years for both projects. It's a fact that there will be a significant reduction of existing green space and the potential loss of Moss Park amenities such as the tennis and basketball court. Sadly, the reduction of park space will also mean the unfortunate loss of mature trees along Queen Street.
The community has been awaiting this much-needed change for years, and there needs to be careful coordination to ensure that the City’s work can continue alongside transit construction with minimal disruption to the surrounding community and its residents. We need to work together to ensure that a beautiful park can be redesigned in coordination with transit construction.