Waterfront Toronto Launches a Public Review of Port Lands Plans
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Waterfront Toronto Launches a Public Review of Port Lands Plans

This summer, Doug Ford argued that we needed to pick up the pace of waterfront development. Today Waterfront Toronto announced public consultations on the Port Lands, to discuss just that.

Aerial view of the Port Lands. Photos courtesy of Waterfront Toronto.

Remember when Doug Ford championed a scheme to build a Ferris wheel and a mega mall in the Port Lands and was then forced to vote against his own proposal at council after four weeks of unremitting backlash? That was two months ago.

Now, as part of the deal that enabled cooler heads on council to spare the Port Lands from that type of development, Waterfront Toronto is launching a review of their original plan for the area. This time, there will be public input.

At a press conference at City Hall this morning, Waterfront Toronto President and CEO John Campbell announced that there will be a public meeting at the Toronto Reference Library on Monday, December 12. Attendees will be invited to ask questions and discuss ideas for the Port Lands. Waterfront Toronto is promising two further rounds of public consultation during 2012.

Waterfront Toronto’s initial 25-year development plan for the Port Lands involved re-naturalizing the mouth of the Don River and building a mixed-use neighbourhood around it. Campbell compared the review process to a puzzle.

“Work on the puzzle is already well underway,” he said. “A series of working groups made up of experts from Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto, Toronto Region Conservation [Authority], and several other agencies began work on the project in October.” Waterfront Toronto will also be hiring outside technical consultants.

The plan is to send a report on the review to city council in June. The job will be complicated by the fact that the Port Lands are a low-lying area, prone to flooding—and heavily contaminated, besides. Without an estimated $634 million in flood protection, much of the land there is unusable. Doug Ford wanted to find private funders to put up the money. That’s an option these new working groups will be exploring.

But wild departures from Waterfront Toronto’s initial vision may not be feasible, as the review will be following the terms of an existing environmental assessment. “The three criteria were naturalization of the valley, flood protection, and city building,” said Campbell—goals Toronto residents will have a chance to discuss further soon.

The first public meeting on the Port Lands review will be taking place at the Toronto Reference Library on December 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.