“We now have a plan,” says Rob Ford of the glorious waterfront vision (for which he doesn’t have a plan)

“We now have a plan,” says Rob Ford of the glorious waterfront vision (for which he doesn’t have a plan)

(Image: Jae Yang in the Torontolife.com Flickr pool) 

The conversation about Toronto’s Port Lands keeps going around and around, kind of like some mythic, not-yet-built Ferris wheel. Frankly, we’re already a little tired of it, but the debate is apparently about to get a little more interesting (but likely no less depressing) after two key planks in the Fords’ assault on Waterfront Toronto are starting to look a little shakier. First, Waterfront Toronto insists it can fund the flood protection necessary for developing the area (their supposed inability to do just that has been one of the key justifications for handing control over to the city and the private sector). Second, the Fords’ grand vision will likely take longer, not shorter, to implement.

The Toronto Star reports:

Mayor Ford said the Port Lands would be developed “in the next 10 years,” rather than 25 years under Waterfront Toronto’s plan. “I do not wanna wait a quarter of a century,” he said.

But under questioning from Vaughan, the Toronto Port Lands Company’s chief executive, Michael Kraljevic, acknowledged that the development would likely take 10 to 15 years, and possibly more depending on conditions in the real estate market. And the company’s proposal, which deals with flood protection differently than Waterfront Toronto’s plan, might require a new environmental assessment that could take years.

As Matt Elliott points out, the debate isn’t actually about competing visions for the waterfront. Instead, it’s about proving (if it can be proven) that the Port Lands would be better handled by the private sector. The yea side has offered two main arguments for their case: that Waterfront Toronto can’t fund the vital flood protection, and that the private sector can develop the area with lightning-fast speed—or at least faster than the supposedly sluggish Waterfront Toronto. Both of these claims now look doubtful. Add to this yesterday’s news that the city might have to rip up a $19-million environmental assessment and start over, and Doug Ford’s assurance that we’ll be riding a free Ferris wheel in five or six years all of a sudden seems highly suspect (if it didn’t already, that is).

“We can pay for Port Lands plan, Waterfront Toronto says” [Toronto Star]
Ford vows Port Lands remake within a decade [Globe and Mail]
Doug Ford’s tourist-friendly plan for Port Lands faces big challenges [Globe and Mail]
A visual journey through Doug Ford’s Port Lands [Ford For Toronto]