Grassroots Group Organizes to Fight Ford's Port Lands Vision
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Grassroots Group Organizes to Fight Ford’s Port Lands Vision

With little more than a website to its name, CodeBlueTO is trying to change the conversation around the Lower Don.

A screenshot of the CodeBlueTO website, as it appeared earlier this afternoon.

When news broke late last week that Doug Ford and others at City Hall were interested in scrapping Waterfront Toronto’s 25-year plan to renaturalize and develop the mouth of the Don River, there was going to be public outcry—that much was obvious. What’s surprising, though, is how quickly the most vocal opponents of Ford’s alternative plan for the Port Lands were able to gather under a common banner. Meet CodeBlueTO.

At the moment, the group is a coalition of a few more than a dozen representatives from different neighbourhood and business groups near the Port Lands, including the Corktown and St. Lawrence BIAs, and several neighbourhood associations. Cynthia Wilkey, chair of the West Don Lands Committee, is also involved.

“We’re basically a group of people who’ve been quite involved in waterfront issues for a long time, because local community groups have sent us as representatives on waterfront issues.” said Julie Beddoes, of the Gooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association (that’s the Distillery District).

“It’s really quite shocking that they’ve been working for months without any approval of council,” added Beddoes, in reference to today’s revelation that Doug Ford has been working with professional planners on his alternative proposal, which he has said may include things like a giant ferris wheel, a monorail, and a “mega mall,” and which would be funded largely with private dollars.

“Who authorized all of those meetings?” she wondered. “Who paid for all of that planning work? I mean, it hasn’t been made public. The other process, the Waterfront Toronto process, has been totally in front of the public, from day one.”

Waterfront Toronto’s plan has been through an environmental assessment and an international design competition. Council approved it, though key funding for flood protection and other infrastructure improvements has yet to be secured.

CodeBlueTO is asking anyone with an interest in the issue to attend September 6th’s executive committee meeting, where Rob Ford and his closest allies will decide whether or not to give the alternative Port Lands plan the preliminary approval it needs in order to go before council. Anyone who can’t make it to the meeting can also submit comments in writing, right here.