Toronto’s waterfront fiasco: Christopher Hume is hopping mad all over again

Toronto’s waterfront fiasco: Christopher Hume is hopping mad all over again

Good design versus "the girls’ hockey contingent" (Image: Jim Simonson) 

Christopher Hume, whose love-hate relationship with Toronto plays out regularly (and amusingly) in the Star’s urban issues and architecture columns, is pretty certain about one thing: “Toronto is not and never will be a great city” because this is a “city where expediency beats excellence every time.” For proof, he points to plans to build a sprawling, suburban-style four-rink skating complex (complete with 440 surface parking spaces) on the precious waterfront land of the lower Don Lands. Below, five reasons why this big-box-style development makes Hume hopping mad.

1. All it takes is just one vote-rich (or just rich) lobby group to throw a wrench into the Waterfront Toronto plan. In this case, “the girls’ hockey contingent” demands more ice time, so the city sees an available patch of land, and presto!

2. If the proposed rink were a Home Depot or a Wal-Mart, citizens would be up in arms because it is a big-box-style complex (180,000 square feet). But this is hockey—“Canada’s game”—so it just gets a giant, collective shrug.

3. Internationally renowned architect Ken Greenberg has resigned from the city of Toronto design team, noting that the ice rink is a “squandered” opportunity “to do something innovative and of great quality.”

4. Mayor David Miller isn’t returning Hume’s phone calls on the issue. (While it’s possible that Miller is putting his head in the sand over the issue, we think he is just choosing his battles—and he’s chosen Transit City.)

5. The short-sighted city planning office doesn’t report to someone with an urban design background. It reports to the deputy city manager, Richard “But Let’s Call Him Dick” Butts, who, aptly enough, was formerly in charge of the city’s solid waste management.

Hockey trumps planning in Toronto [Toronto Star]

Updated: May 10, 12:16 p.m.