Friday, September 16, 2011

Save the Port Lands by Alex Snider

Wow, Rob Ford and his cronies have been keeping us on our toes, huh? Grassroots activism geared towards saving libraries, the Riverdale farm, subsidized housing and bike lanes (to name a few). All nighters at City Hall where citizens had the chance of voicing their opinions about all the proposed cuts. Nearly every weekend offering an opportunity to get out and protest the blatant disregard and disrespect for democracy which our mayor has displayed over and over again, to call out the political thuggery that has taken hold of city council.

With no gravy to be found on the train, Ford has had to resort to consider cutting services that he, as a wealthy suburbanite, cannot fathom as essential. Services like night buses and subsidized childcare. Throw in the homophobic shunning of Pride, the gaffe of flipping the bird to a young child and her mother, his continual hyperbolic number games (does he not care to look up actual numbers or does he just not give a rat's ass about lying? Which is worse?) and, well, those opposing him (a percentage that just keeps growing) are kept busy shaking our heads, signing petitions, attending rallies and drinking our woes away (just me? It can't be just me...). Well, friends, I've got another cause for you! Another petition to sign! Hurray! 

By now Lyle Lanley's Doug Ford's proposal of a mega-mall (duh, no where else to shop downtown aside from the Eaton Centre!), a boat on a hotel a hotel on a boat, a giant ferris wheel (THE BIGGEST  IN THE WORLD) and a monorail (!!!!!) for the Toronto Port Lands has been widely derided and mocked. Shockingly, this is actually a plan: Australian mall-people have been met with and City Council will be voting on September 21st. 

There are a few major problems with the plan, even if it does offer the opportunity for a Marge vs. the Monorail viewing party (one of my favourites -- "I call the big one Bitey", "Ho-Ju"), there's the fact that there is an existing plan, there's the money thing, there's the under-handedness of the whole shebang, the way that Ford is bullying Waterfront Toronto CEO and there's the fact that there is most definitely other places to shop downtown.

The plan that is in place (a plan that took Waterfront Toronto 9 years to develop and has yet to be approved by the province but has been okeyed by the city), that has been on-going and will face completion on various stages over the next 25 years. Among the phases there is the greening of the area including adding bike paths along the lake. There is the soil treatment plant (a small scale pilot program is happening right now) which would clean contaminated soil instead of dumping it in a landfill. There is the restoration and revitalization of Cherry Beach (the Fords don't strike me as beach folk, they look like they'd burn real easy). And there is the huge urban park being planned which "will encompass numerous ecologically unique and distinctive landscapes, from the spectacular wetlands that define Tommy Thompson Park, to the cathedral stand of cottonwoods that frames Cherry Beach. Lake Ontario Park will be a world renowned urban wilderness and recreational park". All pretty exciting stuff both on a recreational level and on an environmental level. By pretty exciting I mean SUPER EXCITING!

The Waterfront Toronto plan is projected to create thousands of jobs and over a billion dollars in spin-off economic activity. Not so shabby. 

Oh and so far there has been $19 million spent just in developing this plan. Not very cost-efficient to scrap this plan and start fresh with a new, fantastical idea.

Luckily more and more city councillors are speaking out against the plan, but given the mayor's penchant for ignoring, well, everything but his own whims we're not in the clear yet. They'll be voting on September 21st so why not take a moment to sign this petition and let the City Council know that you do not support the frivolous, inefficient and ill-conceived plan for the Port Lands? Ooh, and it looks like there is also a protest planned for Tuesday morning at 10:45 at Nathan Phillips Square. YES to protests!

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