Mayor John Tory set to announce private donors for Don Valley park

Mayor John Tory will introduce private donors who are contributing money to a 200-hectare "super-park" in the Don Valley on Tuesday, CBC News has learned.

Don River Valley Park will be 7 kilometres long, cover 200 hectares

A plan by Evergreen Brick Works envisions new walking a cycling trails along the park's seven kilometres. (Evergreen Brick Works)

Mayor John Tory will introduce private donors who are contributing money to a  200-hectare "super-park" in the Don Valley on Tuesday, CBC News has learned. 

The announcement will happen at the Evergreen Brick Works, a major supporter of Don River Valley Park.

'Toronto's biggest asset'

"This is Toronto's biggest asset," Evergreen CEO Geoff Cape said Monday. "Right now, it's like lost space. It just sits there behind fences."

The land that will become the park is a seven-kilometre long forest criss-crossed with hiking and cycling trails that runs along the banks of the Don River from Corktown Common to the Evergreen Brick Works. 

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam supports Don River Valley Park, but wants better funding from the city. The city says it has spent $18-million on the project since 2012. ( Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Once it's officially designated a park, a priority will be to carve new entrances into the valley, Cape said, which at the moment consist of "hidden paths."

A report published earlier this year by Evergreen envisions new bridges that span the railroad tracks and river, more cycling and walking trails and outdoor art exhibits.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27 Toronto Centre - Rosedale), one of the park's supporters, said Monday she's in favour of both the controversial Rail Deck Park the mayor unveiled this summer and Don River Valley Park. 

The 200-hectare Don River Valley Park proposed by Mayor John Tory will transform a stretch of the Don Valley into the city's largest downtown park. (Evergreen Brick Works)

But she wants the city to fund the Don Valley park, too, referring to it as a "super park."

"What I am saying is this [new park] is something that can be done today. You don't have to buy air rights, you don't have to acquire the land," she said. "The City of Toronto owns the land, and we already have full-grown trees; there's already a trail system through it.

"All we need to do is curate it, build greater connectivity with better access and let people enjoy it."

Bigger than High Park

Although the park has been in the city's master plan since 2012, little had been done to bring it to fruition, said Wong-Tam.

But the mayor's office says the city has already contributed millions of dollars to get the project moving.

"The City since 2012 has already spent $18M to help realize this vision for Lower Don Trail," the mayor's senior adviser for communications, Keerthana Kamalavasan, wrote in an email to CBC News.

"We have completed key improvements that will make it more useable and accessible including the new Belleville underpass, Pottery Road Bridge and the Bayview multi-use trail. Next spring, we'll be adding new way-finding signage that will help residents access and navigate the park," Kamalavasan wrote.  

Once it's designated a park, it will automatically be brought under the supervision of the city's Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, which will provide it with operating funds.

The Don River Valley Park will be larger than High Park and the second largest park in the city, behind Rouge Park, which covers about 5,000 hectares.