Get Toronto’s waterfront right this time
Toronto Sun Editorial
We’re only going to get one chance to develop what’s left of Toronto’s waterfront, so let’s get it right.
What not to do is apparent to anyone looking west along the waterfront from Yonge St. at the wall of uninspiring condominium towers that cuts off the city from the shores of Lake Ontario.
It’s a planning mistake we don’t want to repeat on the undeveloped and underdeveloped port lands, east of Yonge.
Coun. Doug Ford recently expressed frustration over the lack of a signature building and the slow pace of this development, suggesting it would be better to turn things over to the private sector.
He described Waterfront Toronto, the joint federal, provincial, city agency created a decade ago to oversee development, with a $500-million contribution from each level of government, as a “boondoggle.”
Shortly after, Mayor Rob Ford expressed similar views to his brother’s, adding the city will review whether it has been getting good value for the money it has invested in the agency.
Of course, Waterfront Toronto must be ready to open its books and defend its actions at any time.
And it’s true the pace of development on the waterfront has been slow and frustrating.
But even developers who are now investing hundreds of millions of dollars in projects along the eastern waterfront, have come to the defence of Waterfront Toronto in the wake of the Fords’ criticisms.
They say the agency has made it easier for them to get their projects going and provided the incentives — such as improving municipal infrastructure — that will lead to thriving businesses and livable, tax-paying communities, not just another wall of condos.
So far, the work of Waterfront Toronto and other city agencies has produced some genuine success stories along the waterfront.
There’s Sherbourne Common and the new headquarters for Corus entertainment, which will soon be sold at a large profit to the city.
Just west of the Corus building are the inviting white sands of Sugar Beach — a new place for families to hang out.
Construction has begun on a new complex for George Brown College and three major developers — Great Gulf, Urban Capital and Hines — are working on big projects in the area.
The West Don Lands will be the home of the new athletes’ village for the 2015 Pan Am Games, leaving a legacy of affordable housing for the city.
It’s understandable the Ford brothers are frustrated over the time it’s taking to develop the waterfront — who isn’t? But the solution isn’t a fire sale of city land at this point in time.
Rather than dismantling Waterfront Toronto or withdrawing from it, we think the answer is to keep a close eye on its operations — with the mayor, who has a seat on the agency, either attending the meetings himself, or appointing a designate in his place.
Given his concerns, perhaps the ideal candidate would be Doug Ford.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.