While there has been much excitement recently over the federal government's announcement that Scarborough's Rouge Park will become Canada's first National Urban Park, Scarborough residents might want to talk to those living near Downsview Park in North York about the difference between expectations and reality - and understand there's a long way to go.
A total of $143.7 million has been pledged by the feds over the next 10 years for the development of the massive Rouge Park area which stretches along Toronto's eastern border from Lake Ontario up to the Oak Ridges Moraine. Earlier this week, federal Environment Minister Peter Kent was in Scarborough to announce a park superintendent, Pam Veinotte. has been named. He also revealed the dates for three public consultation meetings on what both Kent and Veinotte referred to as the People's Park.
At the moment, the ideas and enthusiasm for what the future may hold for Rouge Park seem limitless.
But keep in mind that priorities and needs can change.
Downsview Park is holding a celebration today to mark its official opening. It was back in 1994 when the idea of an urban park was first announced by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien. It's now 18 years after that initial pledge.
And things have certainly changed during that time - including a federal government mandate that Downsview Park be financially self-sufficient.
And while there will be an urban park with forests, ponds and trails, and a bevy of educational programs among other offerings, there will also be significant commercial and residential development on the lands. Over the next 15 to 20 years, almost half of Downsview Park's 572 acres will be transformed as part of five distinct development areas.
The transformation in the community will be significant. It comes at a time where development in the general area includes the building of the new Humber River Regional Hospital, new sports facilities at York University for the Pan Am Games, and the extension of the Spadina subway line.
"It could have been a sea of suburbia," noted Downsview Park board chair David Soknacki at a community meeting last week. "At the end of the day, not every party got everything they wanted. But together we got a lot further than we would have got separately."
On the first phase of development, the Stanley Greene neighborhood, a compromise has largely been worked out between the city, Downsview Park and the community.
At the same community meeting, one Downsview resident wondered what made Rouge Park more deserving of federal funding.
Rouge Park supporters should bear in mind that what the federal government promises and what it delivers can be different things, as Downsview residents have already discovered.