Waterfront Toronto Ford Sell Land Budget 2012

Toronto's waterfront might be a 2012 budget victim

Although it's too early to tell how it'll play out, the mayor's executive committee is contemplating a move that would undermine Waterfront Toronto's careful development of the city's lakefront property. Citing the putatively slow pace of work and unnecessary consulting expenses, key members of the committee (and other Ford supporters) have floated the idea of selling some city-owned land separate from the agency that was tasked with creating a master plan for Toronto's waterfront by all three levels of government back in 2001.

"Certainly there is some discussion about whether it's viable to accelerate some of it... Can we hive off some of the land that's city-owned away from that process and do that first and Waterfront Toronto would continue at its pace? I know that's a discussion that's taking place," Councillor Peter Milczyn told the Post.

As Matt Elliott notes on his blog Ford for Toronto, the idea to sell parcels of land outside the purview of Waterfront Toronto is "likely driven by a need to find saleable assets that can help bring down next year's budget gap." Though none of the councillors quoted in the article mention this explicitly (the mayor's press secretary does, however, hint at it), it seems the only logical reason that they would consider highjacking a process that, by many recent evaluations, has actually yielded quite successful results. Along with well-liked projects like Sugar Beach, Sherbourne Common and the Corus Quay complex, the soon-to-commence East Bayfront development with its Moshe Safdie-designed centrepiece also looks like an auspicious addition to a patiently considered plan.

And that's it in a nutshell really. Straying from a master plan that's starting to show impressive results just doesn't make any sense — except as a quick cash-grab that could have painfully lasting consequences on a part of the city that's long been lamented for the degree to which it's revealed a lack of vision on the part of Toronto's former leaders. Say what you will about David Miller, but this was one thing he got right.

Perhaps even more problematic is that Mayor Ford, who holds a seat on the Waterfront Toronto board, hasn't even attended its meetings since he took office. Shouldn't it be a prerequisite to attend such things before questioning an organization's programs and progress? As Paul Bedford, Toronto's former chief planner, puts it: "My God, phenomenal stuff is happening. If the guy showed up he would learn a few things about what's going on down there."

Rendering from the Waterfront Toronto website

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