To say that I’m deeply disturbed by Provincial action on the Waterfront would be an understatement. The Ford Government’s reckless over reaction to a confused and puerile Auditor Generals report is putting progress on our city’s waterfront at risk.
For the last four decades, civic leadership in Toronto has struggled to develop a vision for the Port Land’s that benefits us all. The land along the lake is a complex mix of Federal, Provincial and city owned properties. There is a significant lack of infrastructure, and there is toxic soil that has effectively paralyzed progress for half a century.
Citizens of Toronto love the waterfront, but love alone can not transform the shoreline. In an historic act of co-operation. WaterfrontTO emerged to untangle the history and chart a course for a bold new future. All three orders of government have invested land funds and jurisdictional authority into this organization – and after a decade, the results speak for themselves.
The reconstruction of Union Station, the revitalization of Queen Quay, ambitious new parks along the lake, new neighborhoods with affordable housing, Universities, Colleges, the arts and commercial buildings are all part of the waterfront now because of WaterfrontTO. They have not only delivered a vision for Toronto, but have also delivered spectacular results, jobs, infrastructure, and recreational space.
Having represented waterfront communities at both the federal and the local level, and having been intimately involved in the development of the waterfront, there has been no public entity more engaged and respectful of local interests. WaterfrontTO, from the board to the staff, from its consultations to its high level private briefings, has been the high water mark for public interest based development processes in Toronto.
This has not happened by accident. Board Leadership has played a critical role in setting tone, accountability and performance. The arbitrary and sudden dismissal of key members of the leadership team is wrong. It threatens progress on the waterfront and is not in the best interest of the city.
I have been in close contact with the Federal Minister, the neighboring MP, counterparts at City Hall and local community stakeholders since learning of Ford’s action. I have also reached out to officials at WaterfrontTO to assure them that our government has confidence in their governance, their vision and their performance. Our government will continue to support that vision.
Together we will realize the vision for a clean green waterfront for all. A new community along the lake that meets the expectations of Torontonians now and for generations to come.