Residents of Toronto community divided over plans to turn parking lot into park

Residents in Toronto’s Earlscourt neighbourhood are divided over plans to turn a Green P parking lot into a park. Earlier this month, Alejandra Bravo, city councillor of Ward 9, Davenport, updated her constituents about the planned decommissioning of Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) Carpark 246 at 31 Blackthorn Ave. She noted that the TPA completes regular reviews of their parking lots to set rates and monitor the profitability of operations, and they identified that Carpark 246 “is no longer generating adequate revenue”; hence, leading to its retirement as a TPA lot.

“[A]s community members know, finding more green space has been determined as a priority for Ward 9, especially in the north end. Compared to the rest of the city, Davenport neighbourhoods are behind on access to parkland, and it is a priority to create new green spaces so our community can catch up with the rest of the city,” Bravo stated in her update, adding that the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation will be taking over the lease for the land at 31 Blackthorn Ave to create a new green space for the local neighbourhood.

Bravo said that “nearby” TPA parking lots along St. Clair Ave. W. in Ward 9 at 20 Prescott Avenue, 141 Greenlaw Ave., 91 Via Italia, 7 Norton Ave., and 94 Northcliffe Blvd are unaffected and will continue to operate, and the TPA is identifying new pay-and-display parking in the neighbourhood to serve local businesses, organizations, and visitors.

“Supporting the creation of new parks and green spaces in our ward has been a priority of mine for decades, and a commitment I made to constituents,” she added.

Still, residents are left divided about whether replacing the parking lot with a park will help with congestion in their ward.

Blackthorn Green P

Earlier this month, a petition was created by Davenport Ward resident Benjamin Clarke  to prevent the demolition of Green P Carpark 246. Clarke states that parking is a “scarce resource” in his ward and that the lot serves as an essential facility for many residents in the community.

“In our community, like many others within Davenport Ward, the availability of parking spaces is extremely limited. This limitation stems from various factors including urban planning decisions that have led to a lack of driveways for many residences.”

Clarke states that the proposed demolition threatens to exacerbate an already critical issue by removing one of the few remaining resources for vehicle parking.

“It’s not just about convenience; it’s about maintaining the quality of life that we’ve come to appreciate in our vibrant neighborhood.”

As of publication, the petition has 253 of its goal of 500 signatures. Still, Clarke’s sentiments are being reflected across social media.

“Prescott/Blackthorn Ave see[s] so much congestion, Carpark 246 helps” one resident posted on X. “The removal will create major overflow issues.  We have parks: Prescott Parkette, Don Panos, Wallace C Swanek, Carlton, Charles Caccia, Chados & S.A.D.R.A.  Park extension is not needed PARKING SPACES are needed!”

Some are also worried about how far the remaining open lots are from Carpark 246.

“Also, why are you advocating parking lots that are 7 blocks away from Carpark 246?  No one will walk 7 blocks to park or pick up their vehicle.  Further, who opens a park under Hydro wires?  We need parking in the area not a park extension that will only increase our taxes.”

Other residents are arguing for the need for more green space.

“Love the idea to turn this into a park. I live just down the street. This area has one of the lowest densities of park space. Would also be great to connect the hydro corridor south of St. Clair to the green line!” one user posted on X, while another stated that converting the lot into a park “is the right thing to do” as “[t]here are hundreds if not thousands of parking spaces on the streets in this area already.”

Parking has long been a contentious issue in the city. Last month, the Toronto Region Board of Trade launched a new task force to tackle traffic congestion in Toronto, citing how—despite transit investments and short-term fixes, such as traffic agents on the ground and better use of real-time data—the city’s gridlock has reached a “tipping point”.

The Board estimates that Toronto commuters spend 98 hours annually navigating rush hour traffic and have the longest average travel time in North America.