Smitherman wants to de-ugly waterfront rink complex

Smitherman wants to de-ugly waterfront rink complex

(Image: OldTownGuy)

Oh so slowly, the mayoral campaign of George Smitherman is growing out of its timid, quiet childhood into a prickly adolescence. (Hey, we’ve all been there.) For months, we wondered where George was, only to be told that his silence was strategic. When he did pipe up, it was to echo the sentiments of the fire breathers to his right, like suggesting the whole bike lane thing had gone too far. But ever since his new manager promised to unleash George, we’ve seen a new candidate—one willing to smack around Rob Ford at a debate and harangue the TTC for its planned new HQ. And now, at last, Smitherman is taking on city hall (and picking a fight with lame duck mayor David Miller) over plans to build a new hockey rink in the Lower Don Lands.

The Post reports:

Mr. Smitherman made the comments next to the vacant, bulldozed plot of land on Commissioners Street that has been the subject of heated debate this week.

A panel of architects and designers has harshly criticized the city’s plan to install a sprawling recreation complex, with surface parking, on the Lower Don Lands. The design is reportedly under revision, and three stacked options are under consideration.

Mr. Smitherman said Waterfront Toronto, which is shepherding the development of the waterfront, has “done extraordinarily detailed and visionary planning work about what is supposed to emerge here, and it’s not supposed to be a big-box style model.

Smitherman went so far as to call the planned rink (and its 400 parking spaces) a “knife in the back” to a new, vital area of Toronto. Strong language for the new Smitherman (although tame compared to his Queen’s Park years), especially when what he’s proposing isn’t exactly radical. He still supports a rink of some kind there; he just wants to see something not too horribly ugly. Is Smitherman getting campaign advice from Chris Hume?

In any case, you know something’s not quite right in Toronto when it’s safe for politicos to come out against new hockey rinks.

• Stack rinks or shift Lower Don arena site, Smitherman says [National Post]
• Put rink plans on ice, Smitherman says [Toronto Sun]