Experts unite to block Fords' Port Lands plans
Rob and Doug Ford's plans to wrest control of the Port Lands from Waterfront Toronto took another blow today, as a host of decorated urban academics and planners delivered an open letter condemning plans to deviate from the course already set for the formerly industrial area. The letter, co-written by Eric Miller (Director of the Cities Centre at U of T), Paul Bedford (the former Chief Planner for Toronto), Richard Florida (the Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute) and Richard Sommer (Dean of U of T's Faculty of Architecture), which was also signed by 148 experts, calls into question many of the putative justifications for taking a new direction with redevelopment of the area.
It also attacks the recently revealed new vision for the Port Lands, characterizing it as "a tired recycling of 1960's thinking." Pulling no punches, harsh criticism is also reserved for the monorail (called an inferior option to already canceled LRT lines) and the notorious Ferris Wheel. "Given the plethora of giant Ferris wheels already in existence around the world, the notion of building one here on precious waterfront land is hardly a novel idea or one that will put Toronto "on the map" as a tourist attraction," the letter reads.
The best part, however, comes when the writers argue that the manner in which the Fords have handled the Port Lands situation represents nothing short of a threat to democracy in this city. "The backroom nature of this proposal, the lack of open consultation and the absence of City staff input into the process are inexcusable given the years of extensive consultation associated with the existing plan. This mode of decision-making represents a very serious step backwards in the governance of the City, and, over and above the immediate threat it poses for proper development of the Lower Don Lands, it poses a very real threat to democratic decision-making in the City."
The full text is embedded below.
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