Rob Ford’s next war on David Miller’s legacy: Waterfront Toronto

Rob Ford’s next war on David Miller’s legacy: Waterfront Toronto

Conception of the Lower Don Lands after development (Image: Waterfront Toronto)  

After putting an end to Transit City and declaring the “war on the car” over, Rob Ford is apparently looking for new leftist monsters to battle. If the National Post is right, the mayor and his allies have found their next enemy in the offices of Waterfront Toronto. We certainly hope that nobody out there has been holding expensive Christmas parties à la the TCHC, because the people running city council are in a cutting mood, and the long-delayed redevelopment of the city’s waterfront is at stake (it was initially promised by Pierre Trudeau in the 1972 election).

“Certainly there is some discussion about whether it’s viable to accelerate some of it,” said Councillor Peter Milczyn, a member of the mayor’s executive. “Can we hive off some of the land that’s city-owned away from that process and do that first and Waterfront Toronto would continue at its pace? I know that’s a discussion that’s taking place.”

He was among three members of Mayor Ford’s executive committee who raised questions about Waterfront Toronto’s success and how it spends money. Mr. Milczyn says there has been “frustration” with the pace of work, and transparency around contracts….

“A ton of money has gone out the door [at Waterfront Toronto] and very little value,” said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, an executive member. “They have squandered money on consultants. They have sole-sourced a lot of arrangements, they have sole-sourced a lot of projects and it’s fertile ground for any consultant wanting a gig.”

This Post reporting has triggered some predictable—and perhaps justified—concern from some of Ford’s critics. They worry that the city is now getting ready to repeat some of its biggest mistakes by selling off land to the highest bidder instead of hewing to some kind of plan.

These worries are inevitable, considering the history, but critics might want to hold back their outrage for a moment, or at least dial it back a bit. The city isn’t the only voice in this debate. Waterfront Toronto is empowered by federal legislation, and Ottawa and Queen’s Park both get to name some of the people who run it. So far, Ford’s record when it comes to going up against other orders of government is pretty poor: the transit plan he ran on during the election did not include an Eglinton crosstown line, yet that’s the thing that’s likely to get built, at provincial insistence. (When the private money fairies deliver the Sheppard subway extension without city taxes we will eat our hats.)

The federal and provincial elections this year may certainly change things, but for now we’re not quite ready to man the barricades over what amounts to council conservatives grousing about spending and speculating on what they’ll do next.

• Waterfront Toronto is moving too slowly: critics [National Post]