Monday, May 10, 2010

Waterfront Toronto Being Iced

The October municipal election can't come soon enough. For decades, we've waited for Toronto, Ontario, and Canada to co-operate on financing, planning, and acting on revitalizing Toronto's waterfront. For decades, we've watched succeeding Prime Ministers, Premiers, and Mayors make grand announcements, with the city's skyline making for a nice backdrop. And for decades, we've seen little change along the lakefront and at the mouth of the Don River, other than a wavy dock being built and ugly condos rise up between us and the lake. This week, what teeny tiny hope we had in the agency Waterfront Toronto being able to create a beautiful, livable waterfront between the Beaches and Etobicoke is in imminent threat of being frozen over by Mayor David Miller and bureaucrat Richard Butts, according to Christopher Hume, Toronto Star columnist.

The one thing this city needs to do is to boot out mediocrity and expediency and to once again desire and create attractive spaces that serve all aspects of our humanity. We need to boot out old soviet thinking of concrete bunkers and turn back to the idea of excellence in every aspect of our city life. Waterfront Agency was supposed to ensure this happened along our waterfront, the most precious part of Toronto. Well, they're failing.
"Three years ago, the city embarrassed the panel by overriding its objections to the Corus office building now nearing completion at the foot of Jarvis St. Despite the panel's criticism that the building lacked the architectural quality appropriate for the first new construction on the waterfront, the project went ahead [plus it's another building hiding Lake Ontario from us, the citizens of Toronto]." (Christopher Hume, The Toronto Star, 10 May 2010)
Today the entire volunteer design review panel for Waterfront Toronto is preparing to resign as Miller and Butts hark back to grey soviet days for the sake of ice rinks. Yes, Toronto has a bad ice shortage, which has flared up into a fight between girls and boys hockey teams. But this shortage has been expanding for decades with no mayor, including Miller, showing any thought to fixing it until suddenly, this year, he decides, it has to be done right now, immediately by building 4 ice rinks and 440 parking spots on prime waterfront land, land designated until now for an attractive mixed use neighbourhood tied in to the city by public transit and with lots of green space allowing Torontonians to connect to the lake.

An international competition was held in 2007 for this land.

Mayor Miller and Bureaucrat Butts want to toss that competition into the lake.

Miller and Butts don't want to take the time to find a good place for new ice rinks or even to think about placing each of those rinks in neighbourhoods so that locals wouldn't have to pollute the air putt-putting across the city to get to them. After all they know better than Ken Greenberg, a respected planner who resigned his directorship over this very issue, and there is that pesky election coming up, which may give us a Council that dreams big for Toronto's waterfront and has the stamina to ensure it happens. So instead of houses, we'll have parking lots. Instead of homes and stores near the TTC, we'll have rinks far away from neighbourhoods, accessible only by car. Um, doesn't Miller always trumpet how green Toronto is? May I say that Miller and Toronto bureaucrats are showing their true colour: pollution grey.

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