New Port Lands vision moves one step closer to fantasy
Rob and Doug Ford unveiled their much-hyped new vision for the Toronto Port Lands to the City's executive committee yesterday, who put its support behind transferring oversight of the area from Waterfront Toronto to the Toronto Port Lands Co. (TPLC). Under the direction of architect Eric Kuhne, the TPLC envisions an almost Las Vegas-like reworking of the formerly industrial area, highlighted by a monorail, the Hearn Ice Palace (complete with an observation deck where the smokestack is now located), a giant Ferris wheel and super-mall, a roundabout on Cherry Street and what's been described as an emerald necklace of green-space encircling the area.
All this in the next 10 years or so, according to the mayor. That, I suppose, is jaw-dropping — but more in the sense that it's astonishing that the authors of this
plan vision think that it's remotely possible to just bang this out in a jiffy. Or maybe they don't, and all the rhetoric is part of a carefully designed strategy to get Waterfront Toronto out and deal with the real consequences later.
Would the area as laid out in the renderings presented yesterday be a good addition to the city? Sure. Despite its theme park-like elements, a project of this nature would certainly make the Port Lands a destination. But so too, of course, would Waterfront Toronto's plans for the area. In particular, it would be a colossal disappointment to see plans to re-naturalize the foot of the Don River — as part of a flood protection plan for the area, no less — go to waste.
There are so many factors that will determine how quickly any revitalization of the Port Lands will proceed, not the least of which include the real estate market and the possibility that the TPLC
version vision of redevelopment may ultimately require a new environmental assessment for flood protection. Prior to the formation of Waterfront Toronto in 2001 (then known as the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation), the Port Lands were plagued by jurisdictional disputes that stalled the transformation of the area. Now we're wading back into the same territory, and the results may very well be disastrous.
Here's a link to yesterday's video presentation, from which the screengrabs above and below derive (with the exception of image that depicts Waterfront Toronto's plans to re-naturalize the Don, which is the third image).
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