Posts Tagged: jack layton

Aug 11

Parallel Port Land Plans: No reason to abandon Waterfront Toronto

As part of this week’s Posted Toronto Political Panel, Chris Selley does that thing where he tries to get everyone to just calm down a little bit and consider the other side:

Look, the Fords’ hair trigger on big ideas is obvious. But the major impact of these staff recommendations would concern yet-to-be-begun projects that are contingent upon a $634-million flood-protection plan. There’s no money for it. “It appears,” say City staff, “that Waterfront Toronto is not in a position to co-ordinate a comprehensive revitalization program … that would allow for significant development within the next 10 years, at a minimum.” If developers are willing to foot some of that bill — which is, at least, far more realistic a prospect than the Sheppard plan — in exchange for building something that actually exists outside the Waterfront Toronto Holodeck, then I think it’s entirely worth exploring. Why not judge any ensuing development plans on their own merits? Also: What the hell is wrong with Ferris wheels?

via Political Panel: Exploring the port lands through the power of imagination | Posted Toronto | National Post.

In answer to his last question: nothing, but why ferris wheels? That seems to be little more than a me-too gesture from a city that is already too often criticized for trying, with various gimmicks, to look “world class.” We might as well throw up an Eiffel Tower replica, too. Maybe  a little Statue of Liberty holding a Tim Hortons coffee cup.

On Selley’s larger point, there is some merit to what he’s saying. Port Lands development is slow with a capital SLOW, and there’s a large unfunded liability for flood protection. But as guest panelist and noted luminary Steve Murray says, wouldn’t the prudent move be for the city to work with Waterfront Toronto to push forward timelines and find investors? Why not make an effort to work within the established framework — that is producing results in the East Bayfront and the West Don Lands — before you decide to go out on your own with a whole new plan?

Is it still true now, as it was a few months ago, that Rob Ford has never attended a Waterfront Toronto board meeting? And what about the question of motive: is this about building an amazing waterfront neighbourhood or making a quick buck through a fire sale of land that’s currently only suitable for ramshackle tourist attractions, big box stores and parking lots?

The Fords very much seem like the types who are prone to overturn the board and all the pieces the minute they find themselves looking at a stage of the game they don’t like. They did it with Transit City, and they’re doing it now with the waterfront.

More waterfront tidbits:

  • One of the fun undercurrents to the story as it develops is that it’s becoming difficult to determine which parts of the waterfront Doug Ford is actually talking about. Is it the Port Lands, the Lower Don Lands, the East Bayfront or all of the above? As the Toronto Star’s Robyn Doolittle notes, “This ‘wishy-washy’ language that is typical with the Ford administration has left no one sure what’s being proposed, said one individual involved with waterfront redevelopment.”
  • Ford has tried to present his plan as something that could work in concert with the other work being done by Waterfront Toronto, but his proposed monorail — which would require a clear right-of-way, plus stations, plus vehicle storage and probably a maintenance yard — would likely require changes to any and all current plans for everything east of the Corus Building.
  • Doug Ford isn’t the first politician to present an out-of-the-blue, comprehensive and unworkable plan for Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. In 2004, Liberal MP Dennis Mills ran an election campaign at least partially centred on such a plan. You can still view most of his ideas on the plan’s website; they include things like an aquarium and a campus for the United Nations University for Peace. There was also talk he was looking at casinos, backed by companies who would step it and contribute funds to the project. Mills was defeated in his riding, Toronto-Danforth, in the 2004 Federal Election by a former Toronto City Councillor by the name of Jack Layton.

Aug 11


The Grid’s Edward Keenan:

People will say—I know they are already are saying—that he was a man who was in politics “for the right reasons.” Unlike many, I think that is true of most polticians, however effective they may or may not be, and no matter how distracted they may become. But the interesting thing about Layton is that the wrong reasons appear not to have ever occurred to him. He coupled that with boundless energy and an inability to see anything as impossible or to interpret anything as a setback.

Contra Yeats, he was a man of great conviction who was full of passionate intensity. Our country, his party and our politics are lessened by his loss.

Long may the spirit of his relentless smile live on.

via Jack Layton: may his spirit smile on | The Grid TO.

Jack Layton died today. It sucks.

I feel dumb. Knowing I’d be off at a meeting all day and away from the computer, I scheduled a few posts  to run automatically on this blog. When I heard the Layton news on the 501 streetcar this morning, I had no time to alter or reschedule those posts. So, as planned last night, they went up over the course of the day.

I feel, as the guy who both writes and edits and promotes this blog, that the ideal thing to do would have been to postpone those posts, to spend the day linking to articles about Jack Layton, to try to — on this terrible occasion — find a way to celebrate his life and his contribution to Toronto and to Canada.

I regret the error.

Still, though, I suppose there are worse ways to honour the man than with political arguments. Calling out a conservative bluff, championing community activism and involvement and working toward a fair, dignified strategy to eliminate poverty — these are some of the things that Jack Layton stood up for. Their subjects typify just a few of the political battles he fought and a measure of the legacy he leaves.

The memory of this sad day will soon fade and what we’ll be left with is that legacy. A legacy that informs all of us who have passion for where we live. And while Layton is tinged with the colours of the party that he led and took so far — and could have taken farther — what he leaves us is not a spirit of partisanship or ideology. Instead, it’s about a driving desire to make the places we live in better than they are now. It’s about building collaborative and vibrant places where all things are possible to all peoples and creating cities and countries that continuously improve. That always endure. That last.

Toronto was lucky to have Jack Layton as a resident, a leader and a champion. His work in this city and for this city continues to impact us every day. Let’s hold onto all he gave us, and let it guide us forward. Toward something better. Something that lasts.