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What happened to Woodbine Live?

Posted by Guest Contributor / March 27, 2012

Woodbine LiveIf you ask the Mayor about his greatest achievement during his ten-year run as Councillor of Ward 2, inevitably he will point to one thing: Woodbine Live. Rob Ford will invariably cite Woodbine Live as an example of how he can attract private interests to major projects, having been quoted once as saying 'I know how to deal with CEOs of huge corporations - that's how I landed the largest development in Toronto's history.'

As someone who apparently cannot let go of notions of private investment being involved in matters of transit and other municipal affairs, you have to first examine that claim Ford has made about Woodbine Live, and put it under a microscope, and also examine just what the present status of Woodbine Live is (Here's a hint: it's not exactly been built just yet).

What is Woodbine Live?

Woodbine Live is a billion-dollar development/partnership between Woodbine Entertainment Group and The Cordish Company, which is presently based in Maryland. Apparently it would feature shops, restaurants, a skating rink, a theatre, hotel and other auxiliary attractions. Figures have suggested that 9000-10,000 jobs would be created by the project. You'd be looking at 80+ hectares of land being developed to go with the Woodbine racetrack and slots presently operating at the corner of Rexdale Boulevard and Highway 27.

The project was approved in July of 2007.

Though Rob Ford has been quite vocal in his support of the project, council records show that when it comes to crucial meetings involving tax deferrals and community-improvement plans, he wasn't necessarily present. Further, when you examine peripheral dialogue around the project from key individuals in both municipal government and those who were part of the negotiations, his presence may not as been profound as the Mayor wishes to claim.

Give him credit for showing up to community meetings and for speaking out in favour of the project, but this was a project that at the time the council strongly supported. Much to the chagrin of others involved in the project, Ford's claim of 'Woodbine Live, I did that,' does not necessarily hold up under scrutiny.

But what if we decide to indulge in the Mayor's fantasy? Facts sometimes seem to be an obstacle for our Mayor, so let's all pretend that we live in a world where we see things through his eyes. Let's assume, then, that the Mayor is indeed responsible for Woodbine Live. Let's strip away all of the contributions of Mayor Miller at the time, any of the other councillors, everyone in the offices of Woodbine and Cordish and put this squarely on his shoulders. Since the Mayor is asking for it (our belief that he is solely responsible for Woodbine Live, that is) let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

Flash forward to July of 2011, four years later.

There are no shovels in the ground. Cordish informs the local media that it hopes to begin construction in the fall, and then subsequently speaks to breaking ground in the early part of 2012. Various circumstances are cited for the delay, from fine-tuning details with the city to the U.S. economy being in recession. An employment centre, with a mandate from the city to provide jobs to residents of this area of high unemployment, has yet to open on site.

There is no skating rink, there is no hotel - four years later, there is absolutely nothing, and there is a general understanding that one of the reasons this development may not be proceeding quickly, is because there are potentially no retailers lining up for any of the retail space available.

Flash forward to March 26th, 2012.

I decided to bike down to Highway 27 and Rexdale and see what exactly is going on with my own eyes.

If there is a major construction project underway, you'd be hard pressed to find it. There were no large cranes in sight. There were no new girders signifying that anything is actually being constructed. There were no large trucks moving materials in and out of the complex. There were no signs signifying the presence of new retailers 'Coming Soon!' There was no gigantic piece of earth being filled with concrete and the whir and sound of constant activity. No construction signs, no restaurants, no hotels, no entertainment district, no residential units, no '1 million square feet of office space,' and most importantly, no new jobs.

This is what is happening right at the moment along the corner of Highway 27 and Rexdale. It is now almost five years later, and there is no sign of this project truly getting underway.

This is what Rob Ford cites as his major accomplishment in his former Ward for the 10 years he was Councillor.

His major accomplishment, his great achievement, one of the examples of how he can generate funds from the private sector for municipal projects, at the present time, five years after conception, does not exist in any tangible form.

How then can we trust this man to be able to guarantee any kind of private sector funding for public projects in any part of our city (be it funding a Sheppard subway line, or the development of the Port Lands) if five years of nothing is what we're left with so far, as his legacy in this Ward?

Five years. The project is delayed, with no tangible sign of future completion.

You know, come to think of it, I'm actually going to give Rob Ford credit for this. If he wants to take full credit for five years of nothing, I believe we should grant him such a thing. If this is the one thing he cites as his legacy in this Ward, what can the rest of the citizens of Toronto expect from him when it comes to these pie-in-the-sky notions of how he'd fund a subway or anything else? This is the man who claims 'I landed the largest development in Toronto history.'

Well, where is it?

Yes Mayor, I believe you. You are responsible for this. All of that nothingness at the corner of Rexdale and Highway 27 (and the subsequent nothingness of this entire Ward for your ten years) is all yours. This is your legacy.

(Well done)

This post has been contributed by Rahim Ladha who is a long-time resident of Ward 2.



Robert Mackenzie / March 27, 2012 at 11:35 am
When Woodbine Live was announced, rapid transit was going to be in the general vicinity of the Woodbine Live site. Some plans for the Etobicoke Finch West LRT outlined an extension from Humber College to Woodbine.

Instead, Mayor Ford decided to abandon these plans -- and his home ward of Etobicoke North for a subway to Scarborough.

It's not too hard to see that the lack of reliable public transit to the site would be yet another reason to discourage private developers from taking part in the project.
AV / March 27, 2012 at 11:43 am
Well written Rahim, two good articles in as many days.
Rexdalien / March 27, 2012 at 11:55 am
so glad to see this article!!!! this situation has been begging for a flashlight for years. lets hope the star is paying attention
What? / March 27, 2012 at 11:59 am
No f#@king ferris wheel?
EricM / March 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm
Good piece. I think we all need to move away from being exasperated with this guy and just present cold hard facts. He loses EVERY time it seems that way.
gelee / March 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Perhaps RoFo should have been contacted for an injection of his ever-important opinion here? These smear pieces are one sided journalism.

Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm
Gelee, these are all facts of public domain and these quotes attributed to him are verified, and can be found on the public record and in the records of the city when it comes to meetings attended. You weren't at Woodbine yesterday. I was. There's nothing there. That's a fact Good job, but try again.
SCDub / March 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm
Great article Rahim. I take the TTC from Kipling station to Humber College North and I pass by that same desolate spot every day. The truth can only set people free, no matter how bitter it is.
Ross / March 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm
Great piece, but one big gap. Again and again, the author claims as fact that Rob Ford sees Woodbine Live as his "greatest achievement" / "major accomplishment".

Rahim: can you provide any citations or proof to substantiate where Ford said this please?
Timmy / March 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm
I recently drove by this site and also wondered what had happened to it. I thought that something would have been under construction by now, so figured that this project was not going through after all. It was greeted with such fanfare in the Etobicoke Guardian at the time so naturally after five years you wonder.
glenn storey / March 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm
a/ rob ford is an idiot, and anybody who voted for rob ford is an idiot.
b/ i think gelee was being sarcastic.
Rob / March 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm
This is a good article, but I think what is missing is how a proposed casino may bring the needed momentum to build this project.

I've stated that this is the perfect spot for the proposed casino because of the proimity to the highway, airport and the possibility of extending the Finch LRT here.

Plus, there could be a number of other factors not thought about such as: the downturn in the economy - If one of the main backers/developers are from Maryland, maybe they don't have the ability at this moment to finance this project.

Second, as much as this is being touted as a private project, let's be honest, I'm sure these guys are waiting for the province to give them some money to 'assist'. This is where the casino may help as a P3 partnership may be created with the OLG to get this project moving.

With the new proposed casino for Toronto, I think it'll get done - and not because of Rob Ford, but in spite of him. The OLG will usher this project through to completion.
Gelee replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Listen Ross, Rahim was at Woodbine yesterday and you weren't.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Ha, upon reading I hope he was being sarcastic (if he was, my apologies) In terms of proof of his statements, this source has been verified by several other articles: (hope that clears up the information gap) Hope that helps?
EricM replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm
I was working with another campaign during the mayoral. I had the misfortune be being at more than 50 candidates debates and I think that this came up from Mr. Ford in every single one. In fact, this even came up during the diversity debate where he said diversity wasn't a priority for him...
AV replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm
2 second search of "Rob Ford, Woodbine, Greatest Achievement" to find this..
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm
In terms of his other quotes, they've all been verified. Trust me, the only way you can properly shine a light upon certain things is using facts. When I took that bike ride up to Woodbine yesterday, it was amazing how desolate it was, because I've lived around there my entire life. It felt like it did 15-20 years ago. In terms of a casino, when the word leaked that OLG wanted to build one in the GTA, Woodbine was cited as a possibility by Doug Ford in an article in the Toronto Star, and how the surrounding community wouldn't object. All I know is that when you're dealing with an area of lower income and higher crime, there are a few questionable notions to building a casino, and not putting the emphasis on proper infrastructure projects. In terms of attracting retailers, Woodbine Centre is dying a slow death on the corner opposite of Woodbine, and this project already has $120 million in property tax breaks over a 20 year period waiting for it. It may not be direct money being handed over, but that's a lot of money being saved. It's just not happening.
Clay replying to a comment from AV / March 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Hah! I haven`t seen LMGT4U in a long time. Nice one!
AV replying to a comment from Clay / March 27, 2012 at 12:44 pm
Thanks Clay. Sometimes I wonder who ties these peoples shoes and dials their phones for them
hop / March 27, 2012 at 01:02 pm
I pass by this area at least 3 times a day and I was a former resident of Rexdale. This is prime real estate. There are no preexisting structures, its just open land waiting for development. It's baffling that we have a mayor that used to represent this area isn't doing anything with it.

Great work Rahim, great to see a broader representation of the city.
TonyW / March 27, 2012 at 01:13 pm
It's worth noting the project has been split in 2 phases - the first phase is the retail/hotel/entertainment phase, while the second will include residential and office uses.

Phase 1 has received OPA/zoning approval, but not final site plan approval. The final report for Phase 2 has not been submitted, and we're a looong way off from seeing OPA/zoning approval for it.

There aren't shovels in the ground because the project has not received final planning and development approvals and building permits have not been issued. I hope there aren't any shovels in the ground until those things are cleared up!

As an aside, did you realize a huge portion of Phase 1 consists of a big box store? Funny - that didn't come up a lot during the big planning discussions back in 2008-9.

If you look closely at the plans for the project, there's a big empty space located adjacent to the NE corner of the clubhouse/slot facility. That's likely where WEG/Cordish want to build the new casino.

In my mind, the biggest problem facing WEG and Cordish is the issue of uncertainty. I don't think Cordish is used to dealing with the stricter Ontario planning and development approval regime, and the province's shady and shifting stance on gaming and gaming expansion can't make for easy business planning.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 01:22 pm
Tony, you make some very good points. I think what happened with Lowe's in the area doesn't help the situation when it comes to other retailers looking at the spot as viable, to be fair. At the end of the day, it's about accountability - as an area with absolutely nothing having been built save for the Wal Mart and Tim Horton's down the street from me in the last two decades, it's a stark example of just how nothing really gets done here (You should have seen the excitement here five years ago for this project) If it takes at least five years to not even have a shovel in the ground, this might be one of those things we add to the list of things in this city that simply do not get done. And if that is the case, the mayor simply has very little of a legacy in this ward, save for any of the football trophies Don Bosco may have won.
steve replying to a comment from Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 01:27 pm
Interesting, no mention of subways.
joe / March 27, 2012 at 01:28 pm
A monorail would bring crowds of people to Woodbine Live! Is it in the plans?
bikes / March 27, 2012 at 01:29 pm
@Rahim pretty brave biking through that area, scary place to be on a bike.
target replying to a comment from TonyW / March 27, 2012 at 01:30 pm
target is taking over zellers at woodbine mall, it would be a perfect choice for the big box store.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 01:34 pm
Ha, notice I didn't talk about how the Finch LRT would have gone to Woodbine (although I'm sure Doug would love a monorail) One of Ford's lines was about 'Bringing Rosedale to Rexdale,' or something along those lines, referring to the project, so his thought was that a car was sufficient enough to get out there (Yes, build a major project, have no transit going to it - this is the logic we're faced with) As for biking through that area, trust me, that was not an easy feat, but I'm used to biking downtown by now, so it's all good.
Ross / March 27, 2012 at 02:00 pm

I have no idea what this is, but I wouldn't call it a reputable media source. Rob Ford's Response? Response to what? Rahim, you mentioned this "has been verified by several other articles"... can you share one? Ideally an article that lists the date of the interview and includes the name of the journalist that did the interviewing.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 02:03 pm
user-pic - perhaps you should learn to use google. This is straight from the horse's mouth.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 02:06 pm
According to that youtube clip, Rob Ford created 10,000 jobs as well. Hmm, when you claim to have done something, and that's not the case, what do we call that?

Try again.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 02:08 pm
And finally, to top it all off, Ross:

Ross / March 27, 2012 at 02:26 pm
Attention Blogto editors - do you want your contributors addressing readers using this kind of language and tone? I'm actually shocked by this lack of professionalism.

Rahim / MARCH 27, 2012 AT 02:03 PM - perhaps you should learn to use google. This is straight from the horse's mouth.
AV replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 02:29 pm
LOL.... Ross goes and cries cry to mom and dad when his balloon is popped....

I for one actually appreciate the author taking the time to provide links that back up his statements when requested. Keep up the great work Rahim
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 02:30 pm
I'm merely referring to the ironic nature of this article being about Woodbine (we are talking about a horse analogy after all) The idiom is not derogatory whatsoever - it's referring to an early 20th century notion of being 'in-the-know' as of course the mayor was inferring from the video clip. Perhaps you are thinking that I was commenting upon something else?

Facts. When simple facts are ignored, it seems individuals resort to pouting and stomping their feet. You sound like someone who used to run this ward.
The Doctor replying to a comment from joe / March 27, 2012 at 02:33 pm
What good is a monorail if there's not a boat ride at the end of it? I only want monorails that end in bridges to nowhere...
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 02:34 pm
You did ask to provide a source. If you like, I can find a way to give you the contact information of the reporter from the National Post and you may ask them to verify the specific contents of that widely published article where the quote was taken from. I can also find a way to provide you with the contact information for Cordish as well (although don't expect them to get back to you on this issue) And thank you AV - I'm merely trying to make sure that people understand that I'm invested in this dialogue and took the time to check the facts (which have now been clearly verified in public here)
mike replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 02:35 pm
Ross STFU and learn how to use google. Rahim, be gentle when addressing retards.
Tomo / March 27, 2012 at 02:47 pm
I like that U2 is tour in this design.
Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 03:14 pm
Kudos to blogto for the focus on Rexdale the last couple of days. It's good to see that we're talking not just about downtown or south of Eglinton, but focusing on issues all around the city. I wish the rest of the media would pick up on this and really look at Rob Ford's record using the facts. Great article.
TDot / March 27, 2012 at 03:16 pm
LOL. Ross gets pwned and whines like a little girl ...

Sorry, that's mildly insulting to little girls.
Critic replying to a comment from Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 03:21 pm
In any professional role, you must address each and every inquiry with the highest level of courtesy possible. Your use of sarcasm in responding to who appears to be slow is cheap and unprofessional.

stopitman / March 27, 2012 at 03:23 pm
Thanks for the article and informative replies, Rahim. Ross just doesn't know when he's lost a fight, he needs to grow a pair.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 03:31 pm
Critic, you have a very valid point. Apparently my helpful suggestion to use google as a tool for searching for information was misconstrued as offensive. Further, I could have taken on a more gentle tone when providing resources and data to back up my efforts. I then perhaps should model myself after someone like our Mayor who tends to take on only the highest of professional tones, yes?

In all seriousness, it can be sometimes said that we take too gentle of a tone when it comes to those who are so loud in false opinions, they drown out facts. That has been the history of municipal politics here in the last two years. If I'm passionate about something and it comes out in a sarcastic tone, it's merely because I take issue with those who'd indulge in pettiness to distract from the fact that at the corner of Rexdale and Highway 27, there is no Woodbine Live, there are no 10,000 jobs, and no LRT heading out to it. You are right, I should be professional about it. But sometimes, passion (however hot-headed it can be) should come first. I live in this ward, I feel for the people here, and I feel for this city. If my tone is slightly agitated or sarcastic, it is what it is. It's a good suggestion - please take the time to direct it to mayor and his brother as well.
Alvin / March 27, 2012 at 03:34 pm

Ross: I am glad you are interested in the issue of professionalism - when are we going to apply that standard to his worship?

Attention Blogto editors - do you want your contributors addressing readers using this kind of language and tone? I'm actually shocked by this lack of professionalism.
AV replying to a comment from Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 03:34 pm
"When you play by their rules they call it unfair, but when they play by their rules they say its just part of the game"
TDot replying to a comment from Critic / March 27, 2012 at 03:41 pm
LOL now "Ross" is posting as "Critic".
Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 03:47 pm
Rahim, run for council in the next election. You'd blow Doug Ford away in every debate. You've got my vote.
Rexdalien replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 04:00 pm
I will campaign for you!!!!
David Seville replying to a comment from Alvin / March 27, 2012 at 04:00 pm
Nice try "Alvin" (a.k.a. "Ross"). Are Simon and Theodore going to come out and play next?
sly replying to a comment from David Seville / March 27, 2012 at 04:07 pm
aka suzie q aka serge aka mark aka jay. Its unlikely that these are all the same bedwetter burning through psuedonyms as they lose credibility but I like to hope that its only one person that is that stupid
Shaquann replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 04:07 pm
Ross...grow up. Or go back to the kids' table and let the grown-ups finish their conversation. (solid work, Rahim...I hope BlogTO editors are watching because you're doing Etobicoke a huge service here)
TDot replying to a comment from sly / March 27, 2012 at 04:09 pm
In the off chance they ARE different people, it would be the lamest stitch 'n bitch circle ever. They could hold it in the basement of "Roger Phuket"'s mother's house, where he also lives.
Rexdalien replying to a comment from Rexdalien / March 27, 2012 at 04:11 pm
I mean him! Rahim to be exact!
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 04:16 pm
Thank you, Shaquann. Dealing with BlogTo is quite a pleasant experience - they're very supportive, helpful and open to my ideas (I'm already suggesting a third one as we speak, but only if it fits the narrative - I'm humbly glad for the platform of the last two days, mind you) As for any notion of running for council aha, let's just say I'm exploring effective and efficient ways to dialogue with members of the community as to how to improve circumstances in the area. Shining a light on issues not just here but along the periphery in places like Ward 1 or 7 is always a good (especially when it ties to issues in the core) We're all part of the same city, so things down there matter to me as much as up here. And I think a critical examination of suburban councilors who are bending to the mayor's agenda is necessary at this time. Cheers.
Ross / March 27, 2012 at 04:33 pm

I'm sincerely trying to engage with you here, which is why I was a bit surprised with your snide 'perhaps you should learn to use google' remark. I've read the NP article and watched the youtube video and neither of them appear to address my question as to where Ford made the claim that this project was his "greatest achievement" / "major accomplishment".

I didn't vote for Ford and am far from a supporter. Since elected, he's said and done a number of things that embarrass me as a Torontonian. That said, you're article's thesis does stem from a claim that Ford believes Woodbine Live is his "greatest achievement" / "major accomplishment", so I'm respectfully asking for details on where and when he made this claim. That's all. No need for internet nastiness.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 04:43 pm
A fair comment. The National Post article confirms the actual quote verbatim, so that is taken care of. The Emphasis World interview I provided to you was verified. It's public record, the interview did happen, and the exact question was 'What are some of your greatest accomplishments as an elected official?' and he responded with Woodbine Live as the only example. George Smitherman also responded to similar questions. If you doubt the source, simply call them up and ask them, and you'll get a response affirming so. Hope that helps.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 04:50 pm
Ross, with all due respect (and there's no sarcasm with this comment whatsoever) I had friends drive by Woodbine yesterday before I biked out there, and I asked them if they saw anything, and they responded with a negative. But I wanted to be sure of the facts, so I took a bike ride in the howling and freezing wind yesterday (and trust me, that whole area is a massive wind tunnel) Everything published here has been confirmed - I value the platform BlogTo has provided and want every fact substantiated before I submit an article. It's the responsible thing to do, in my belief.
Ross replying to a comment from Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 04:50 pm
Thanks Rahim. Which NP article confirms that Ford thinks Woodbine Live is his greatest achievement?
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 04:55 pm
Now you're just nitpicking. Both facts have now been substantiated. The NP article provided you with the quote, the other with his claim, in his own words. Now I know that you're simply indulging in comments to be difficult, whereas I'm providing facts. You are now telling me that you are not interested in facts, but in twisting obvious truths around to serve your own agenda. Whatever that is, I suggest that you spend some of that valuable time phrasing your own arguments and submitting to something like a BlogTo, as they encourage open dialogue that is factual and substantiated. Perhaps you should read the article again to see how the claim is phrased. Cheers.
Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:01 pm
Ross, stop being an idiot. The first part of the statement to the part of the article says 'Rob Ford will invariably cite Woodbine Live as an example of how he can attract private interests to major projects, having been quoted once as saying 'I know how to deal with CEOs of huge corporations - that's how I landed the largest development in Toronto's history.' There's no mention of anything there as his greatest achievement. So that quote is substantiated with that national post article which I just read and it's 100%. The first line of the article is all about Woodbine Live being his greatest achievement. It's one line and he just confirmed it for you. He confirmed the first sentence as truth, and then the second. Both are factual, and so is the fact that you're an idiot troll.
Ross / March 27, 2012 at 05:03 pm
I'm honestly confused about the fact that's substantiated by the NP article. Does it pertain to my question RE "greatest achievement" / "major accomplishment"? That's really the only thing I was wondering about and I didn't see it referenced in that piece.
Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:09 pm
Not just a troll, but apparently one that needs every fact spelled out to him. Those who are confused by the truth have issues with the truth.
Ross replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:15 pm
Okay. I read the piece above again. Below is the fact I'm looking to have substantiated:

This is what Rob Ford cites as his major accomplishment in his former Ward for the 10 years he was Councillor.

His major accomplishment, his great achievement, one of the examples of how he can generate funds from the private sector for municipal projects, at the present time, five years after conception, does not exist in any tangible form.
Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:22 pm
Wow, do you do this with every article you read? Need every fact substantiated for you? The first sentence you put there was confirmed for you. If you're wondering about the second fact, why don't you get in your car and drive out to where Rahim went and use your own eyes to see if there's anything been built. Does your mommy cut your food and feed it to you too? Diapers changed much?
Lee Zamparo replying to a comment from Ross / March 27, 2012 at 05:24 pm

Here you go. "Steadfast champion" is apparently more appropriate, but if you were paying attention during the mayoral election, not a minute in a debate or panel discussion would go by without Rob Ford mentioning that his business bona fides were established via the Woodbine Live project.

Here's another story about the level of his involvement (at least as far as he perceives) in the globe:

But this took all of 3 seconds of googling. Why not just do it yourself next time?
mike replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:33 pm
that's a well troll ya got there guys
mike replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:33 pm
that's a well fed troll ya got there guys
mike replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 05:38 pm
if only he put this much effort into substantiating ford's statements
CL / March 27, 2012 at 06:12 pm
I just want to say I'm really impressed with BlogTo and the author for focusing upon issues outside of downtown and looking at Wards that we should focus upon (This is a lot of where Mayor Ford gets his support from) The Ward 2 focus pieces by Mr. Ladha have been quite impressive, and I hope to see more of a focus on these wards and how they've been neglected. As a long-time northern etobicoke residence, I think it's great that two of the top most-commented columns are by this gentleman, and on Rexdale/Etobicoke. and I see that he is a guest contributor, so I hope he continues to produce work of this substance. As for this individual who persists with asking for facts, they've all been presented, and he's merely symptomatic of how a lot of Ford's lackeys don't understand how to process truth. Well done, BlogTo - you have a new reader.
oh for / March 27, 2012 at 06:22 pm
fucks sake
Chelsey / March 27, 2012 at 06:39 pm
Hahaha I agree, it's good to read, even if oh for may not think so. I even forgot about WL until I was reminded of it in this article, so I like seeing blogto turn up stories like this. Awesome job.
Jay / March 27, 2012 at 06:54 pm
Yeah. Had nothing to do with the global recession and real estate crash that caused an American company to hold off on a development project.

Hey. When are the socialist on BlogTO going to start their railing against the Liberals and all their projected cuts and attack on unions and the working man? Not going to hold my breath. I'd accuse you of talking out both side of you mouth if your heads were not do far up your collective asses.
Rahim / March 27, 2012 at 07:05 pm
Jay, sorry to contradict you, but a further exploration around the facts will give you a further notion of what was at play. 120 million in tax breaks were already promised to Cordish and this situation might clarify things as well:

The point of this article is how things were promised since the summer of 2007. That's plenty of time, regardless of any circumstances to do the necessary work to get a shovel in the ground. Rather than resort to unnecessary name calling, why don't you spend that negative energy and effort into doing some further investigation and research and looking at the obvious truth that the mayor has very little to show for ten years of Ward 2 representation (Nothing wrong with the truth, yes?)
goodjob replying to a comment from Shaquann / March 27, 2012 at 08:01 pm
i agree, i also live in Etobicoke and go north to rexdale from ward 4 from time to time. And also understood these problems as most people in this area, but i glad it is finally given some media attention. good job Rahim.
asadp / March 27, 2012 at 08:25 pm
one new thing has been built at that intercession and new rbc bank
Dr. Colon Oscopy replying to a comment from Jay / March 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm
Jay writes: "I'd accuse you of talking out both side of you mouth if your heads were not do far up your collective asses."

Um...Jay baby...why don't you leave the proctology references to an expert. You should know better. I would have expected better from someone I had to extract from THE MAYOR'S rectum with the help of our National Tug of War team.
AM / March 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm
I drive by Woodbine every day on my to work into the city and I see both the Rexdale and Highway 27 sides of the complex, and I can completely confirm there is absolutely nothing there. Nothing really has changed in the fifteen years I've been in the area, and whatever they may build in Woodbine Centre as well it really is a dead zone. There's no real activity. I don't understand any minor disagreement with the article as it appears all the statistics and quotes are correct. I don't understand how anyone can defend the mayor of your town when facts point to the five years of no development that was promised. Just my two cents.
alex / March 28, 2012 at 09:49 am
oh jay. you never get old. you and ross should get together and talk about how great ford is.
Tony / March 28, 2012 at 09:54 am
Im thinking the Provincial Govermnent put the brakes on this project a long time ago. Seeing as they will probably put a casino closer to the city this project doesnt make any sense now. Then along came the recession and retailers probably walked away from this.
Rahim / March 28, 2012 at 10:39 am
Tony, this is not a provincial government funded-project where we're seeing the building of a hospital or something like it - construction was originally to begin in the spring of 2008 (so only several months after the plan was agreed to) At issue here, in part, is the claim of the Mayor that he's able to attract investment - this project is what he cites as a prime example of his ability to do so. If he is going to be the one who claims this as his achievement, and there's nothing there, then he's the one you should look at first as the one responsible. This was his ward, and he clearly in the press and in the provided video clip wants you to believe he's the one responsible. As for the casino, the report that OLG was looking to place a casino somewhere in the GTA was only two weeks ago. Again, let's not deflect from the core issue and use excuses - if someone wants to claim total responsibility, then I say we let them. And at the end of the day, this is about subways, in a sense - the mayor says he can attract private interests to funding such a project. Well, five years later, there's nothing there. It's not exactly an indication that he's capable of doing so. If this is at the top of the list of achievements, we should all be worried about any notions that he can anything of substance built.
TimFr / March 28, 2012 at 11:00 am
Ford citing that he was able to bring $1 billion dollars in development, "the largest development in Toronto's history" during debates indicates in and of itself that he believes it to be a "major accomplishment" whether or not he said those specific words.

In all fairness to Ford, the developers have until fall of 2014 to construct whatever it is they are building to reap the tax benefits. If they started sometime within the next few months, it could be done. Nonetheless, Council could always extend the benefits which is likely since no Councillor voted against it last time.
Rahim / March 28, 2012 at 11:15 am
Good point TimFr - there was a Toronto Star article which spoke about the 2014 deadline and how in order to receive the $120 million dollar tax break the project would have to employ 2500 individuals and complete 75,000 square meters of construction by October 2014. Unfortunately that tax break was agreed to in the summer of 2008 so I imagine that 2014 deadline at the time was thought to be more than doable (It would definitely require an extension) You have to wonder why the Mayor wouldn't be bringing the issue up to get the project off the ground. I mean, his brother represents this riding, yet only a few months ago we hear about his desire for ferris wheels and monorails on the Port Lands, with the same mantra of being able to attract private investment. You would think that Doug Ford of all people would be shouting at the top of his lungs for such a project to begin. Yet, completely silent, and focusing on ludicrous notions elsewhere, while not tending to the weeds growing in his backyard. Typical Ford behaviour when it comes to Ward 2.
tony replying to a comment from Rahim / March 28, 2012 at 11:47 am
So is this article on where Woodbine Live is as of Mar 28th, 2012 or is it an article about Rob Ford. The title does not state anything about Rob Ford? Should it not read Woodbine Live: Rob Fords Greatest Achievement? Not? TonyW provided more detailed information into the Woodbine Live project than you did in your entire article??? Looks more of a personal Rob Ford bashing article. You spent more time adding facts and details in your responses to people than in your article.
Rahim / March 28, 2012 at 11:54 am
Tony, the greatest fact I could offer you is that five years later, there is no development at the corner of Rexdale and Highway 27. You see, the reality is that in the real world where there are such things as accountability, if you are going to cite Woodbine Live as an example of how you can attract private interest to projects that are meant to stimulate the local and municipal economy and infrastructure, and there's nothing there, it shines a light on the present context when it comes to being able to build subways using private funds. You'll notice that in this entire article, any criticism of the mayor is based on factual evidence. Any one who has difficulty with factual-based narratives may wish to examine their opinion further, rather than petulantly complain. If you're going to put yourself out in the forefront and claim 'I did that,' you best be prepared to be responsible if it does not exist. Cheers.
lulu replying to a comment from tony / March 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm
Look, you weren't at Woodbine over the weekend.
Chelsey / March 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm
The trolls just keep stomping up and down crying and Rahim just cooly deals with them. It's like a battle of wits between five-year olds like Tony and a clearly intelligent man presenting facts. I for one am glad at the additional details provided to back up the facts of what is happening in that area. Clearly trolls have trouble with truths.
metric replying to a comment from Ross / March 28, 2012 at 01:08 pm
Ross, you are an irritation and a time waster and then you get pissy about the author's tone?
metric replying to a comment from Ross / March 28, 2012 at 01:15 pm
STFU Ross. You are an annoyance.
Alex / March 28, 2012 at 02:19 pm
This sounds like it should be a huge issue in your ward, Rahim. Have you tried writing to your local councillor or even a newspaper to get this issue the attention it deserves? I understand in your article that it seems like no retail interest is the major problem, but if you can bring this to the attention of a newspaper or council they will have the resources and connections to find out if this truly is the problem, and maybe how to go about fixing it. The BlogTO article is great and based on the number of comments it is definitely bringing the issue to light for a lot of people not aware of it, but I think if you want some serious action taken on this you need to involve people higher up.

If your local councillor ignores you then you can write to the other councillors and see if any of them would be willing to bring this problem up in council. I'm not sure what they could do honestly, but if the company that originally bought the land is no longer able to develop it then maybe they should start looking for a new backer or an entirely new development? I know that would take a long time, but based on the nothing that has happened for years at least it will give some hope that something could spring up at this site.
Rahim / March 28, 2012 at 02:59 pm
Alex, great points - I attempted to contact several personnel in key positions with this, but there was no response. Also this article has been forward to several members of city council as well (and I'll be continuing to do so) It actually doesn't take a lot of time - it's more a case of whether or not anyone is going to pay proper attention to it (I've also directed this article to several members of the media as well)

As for further developments, writing this article has energized me to talk to others about bringing this issue up with other members of the community up here to see if there's a way that collectively it can be addressed. It should be a huge issue up here, but no one is really speaking of it. Hopefully this propels the dialogue forward so that there are at least some answers (and as you mention, if this project is not going through after five years, perhaps it's time to explore other options) You have my assurance that there will be following up on this matter thoroughly (or at least I'm going to try)
W. K. Lis / March 28, 2012 at 08:41 pm
The Zellers at the Woobine Centre (27 & Rexdale) reduced its hours. Used to open at 9 AM. Now opens at 9:30 AM. Great improvement in the area.
Slowly he turns... step by step... and out the side door he goes as his handlers block the crowd from following him.
TonyW / March 28, 2012 at 08:57 pm
The last I heard (and this was some time ago) the project was moving forward through the final approvals process behind the scenes. Apparently, back then (maybe early last year?) the actual incentives agreement hadn't been finalized, despite the fact the overall plan had been approved by Council (I guess the nuts and bolts get worked out afterward).

One problem is definitely lack of retail interest - the way the project was phased (see my post above) the developers didn't have as much flexibility to alter plans for the whole site based on current market needs. In other words, what looked good on paper seven years ago might not be what retailers are looking for now, but with the planning approvals as they stand now it's difficult to have any flexibility in what goes where.

Another issue is the housing on Phase 2. According to the Official Plan, larger residential developments need to include a mix of housing types in an effort to create more diverse and inclusive communities. I'm not sure this vision matches that of the developers, who, if they could choose, would probably prefer to build a more high-end, exclusive enclave. Being forced to build 'mixed housing' probably screws up their math in terms of profitability for the project - I'd bet they're probably at least somewhat reliant on a big injection of upfront condo down payments to help fund that part of the project.

It's also interesting to see where Cordish has other projects - you see a lot of second-tier markets that are often more desperate for the economic benefits (if there are any) of hosting this kind of project. Believe it or not, $120 million in tax incentives on a billion-dollar project isn't a major subsidy compared to some of the other projects they've been involved in.

Finally, with the recent announcement of the impending cancellation of the slots at racetracks program (which is basically a government subsidy for racetracks - though it should be noted Woodbine is by far the most successful track in the province), I wonder if WEG will be more or less interested in making Woodbine Live a reality. Everything will depend now on whether or not Woodbine gets a casino. This will be a long shot, unless the province changes the rules on how casinos get approved. Right now, a new casino would require council approval and majority support in a referendum - huge political challenges with only a medium chance of success. In other words, not the kind of gamble you'd want to make for a billion-dollar project...
Chelsey / March 28, 2012 at 09:06 pm
You know, the author kept being asked for sources to the facts and he kept providing them. So when I see someone say 'the last I heard,' and apparently there's nothing there, I have to ask, what's your source? 'final approvals behind the scenes' Could you provide any helpful links to actually show that? And what, did those lawyers from that Cordish group not read the fine print of all the details? I thought Rob Ford got this deal done and there was supposed to be construction in 2008. So let's see, they sign an agreement and all of a sudden there are all these issues? So now they sign an agreement and suddenly they're being 'forced,' to build housing?

I'm sticking with the original premise of the article. Rob Ford said this was his greatest achievement during the run up to the election, and there's nothing to show for it. And if this is a deal that he claims to have got done, boy he must have really screwed up if all these problems came up.
Chelsey / March 28, 2012 at 09:24 pm
Wait, so now you're saying this is contingent upon the province granting a casino? Uh, from the links I read in the comments, they had nothing really to do with this negotiation. Rob Ford was the one who apparently made this entire deal happen. So now it's up to the province? Yeah, let's see, put the blame on everyone else but the guy who says 'I Did That' I don't know if you live in these parts but this just sounds like another failed promise to me. If Rob Ford wants to be responsible for making it all happen, then he should be responsible for it not happening. Isn't that the way it works?
TonyW replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 28, 2012 at 09:54 pm
Hey Chelsea, you need to dial it back a bit. I'm in no way challenging Rahim's original premise - in fact I Completely agree Rob Ford totally oversold his role in making the development "happen" and completely misrepresented the complex approval process as being a done deal.

The person I heard from was the Director of Business Services from the Economic Development & Culture Division of the City of Toronto. I could dig through my notes and find the exact date and time of the call but I'm not sure that's necessary.

Further, I never said the project is contingent on the province "granting a casino" because that's not how the process works, as I mention above. The province was intimately involved in the negotiations for the development, even though the actual planning approvals come from the city, as we all know.

I haven't provided links because some research involves more than just a google search. I guess you'll just have to believe or not believe what I'm saying on this friendly little post.

I'm not putting "the blame on everyone else but the guy who says 'I Did That'," I'm just trying to add a little more insight to a very complicated project. Again, I'm not attacking Rahim's story and I'm extremely happy this issue is being raised.
TonyW replying to a comment from Chelsey / March 28, 2012 at 09:56 pm
Oof. Sorry - *Chelsey*
Sean / March 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm
I live in Rexdale. I get the points that the poster is making about what could or could not be happening. But honestly I don't really care at this point. The Mayor promised us a lot, and has delivered us nothing for ten years, and his brother is no different. Rather than even talk about Woodbine he's off talking about ferris wheels and monorails. I don't care who's responsible for Woodbine. Rob Ford said he did it, and it's not there. Rob Ford talks about a lot of things that don't exist. I'm tired of talking around that issue and I'm glad this article was written because it points the fact out that he's done nothing. There's no Woodbine, the LRT was delayed being built and unemployment in this area is going up, crime is going up, standards of living are going down. So I don't care who posts what at this point - those are the facts we deal with in Rexdale and I'm glad someone here finally spoke up.
Drake replying to a comment from Rahim / March 29, 2012 at 01:50 pm
That link is a fun little read on its own.
Rahim / March 29, 2012 at 02:03 pm
Ha, there are so many links I've posted up about this I've lost count at this point. I have to agree with the poster Sean when it comes to sentiments surrounding this (Sometimes you just have to strip away all the promises, claims, and minutiae surrounding everything and just look at the cold hard facts when it comes to the track record and history) Funny thing about just opening your mouth and randomly spurting off any claim - you'll never know when it comes back to haunt you.
McRib replying to a comment from Sean / March 30, 2012 at 01:58 pm
then why do you chuckleheads keep voting him in? And not only him but now his brother too?

fucking hell.
lol replying to a comment from McRib / March 30, 2012 at 02:41 pm
perhaps not everyone is voting him in? you are familiar with how democracy works?
Rahim / March 30, 2012 at 05:43 pm
Up in Ward 2, Doug Ford won 71.7% of the vote, with a little over 12,000 votes. Ward 2, as of 2006, had about 54,000 individuals living within it's borders. Now, not everyone is a registered voter, but what that tells you is that a low percentage of eligible voters actually cast a ballot. Now, I'm not going to make excuses for people who don't vote, but what the numbers say is that a low percentage of individuals in this Ward actually keep voting. Whatever reasons for the voter apathy, it's up to individuals in the community like myself who do care enough to address it. But this article isn't about voting patterns - this is about the failure of a politician and how he was elected on a false platform and how his greatest achievement was boasting about nothingness. The Ford's record up here wasn't addressed enough in the run-up to the election by the other candidates or the media up here (I get the feeling that will change next election)
Ye / March 31, 2012 at 02:54 pm
Great article. I live in the area and go to Humber and Woodbine and Woodbine Centre and the area around it feel like a wasteland. It's like there's a lot of missed potential and I'm sure it was recognized years ago when this project was created, but not following through with it is a shame. I'd be interested in seeing how many areas like this in the city are being neglected so good to see blogto put a focus on it.
jd / April 4, 2012 at 09:48 am


Woodbine Live! is toast because there is a suit between Woodbine Entertainment and the builders, Cordish Company...nothing to do with Rob Ford - Cordish is suing Woodbine
boris moris replying to a comment from jd / April 4, 2012 at 08:38 pm
"nothing to do with Rob Ford - Cordish is suing Woodbine"

Hallo hallo? Nothing to do with the fat drunk liar who boasted to all who would swallow his bullshit raw:

"'I know how to deal with CEOs of huge corporations - that's how I landed the largest development in Toronto's history.'"

Obviously the morbidly obese pathological liar in the mayor's office didn't bother to do any due dilligence with regards to debt/equity ratios of the "huge" Cordish company. No....he was so fascinated/overwhelmed with their corpulent corporate culture, while he was getting them (and him) drunk and stuffed with pork, that he neglected to see the shaky foundation under their "hugeness".

Well done Blob Frod. What's next? Are you negotiating with Nortel to build a race track for fat pols to waddle around so you and your bloated conbot alky buds can "Trim the Waist"?
I still believe / February 5, 2013 at 05:13 pm
Billion-dollar Woodbine Live, touted by mayor, is dead.
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