Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On The Waterfront

Like world peace and true love, the revitalization of the Toronto waterfront is always hoped for, often promised, and never realized.

Well, scratch last that one:

MP John Baird was one of the few Conservatives in the crowd at yesterday's construction kickoff for Toronto's newest waterfront community, but he got the loudest cheers.

"I want to send a very clear message on behalf of the federal government of our active engagement in this file and we look forward to a very successful partnership," said Baird, president of the federal Treasury Board.

His comments effectively put to rest concerns that the new Conservative government wasn't going to back Toronto's waterfront revitalization.

Five years ago, the city, Queen's Park and Ottawa jointly put up $1.5 billion and unveiled a grand vision to remake 46 kilometres of Toronto's lakefront into vibrant neighbourhoods full of homes, businesses, parks and transit, with improved public access to the lake.

After years of study and delay, that work got underway yesterday in the West Don Lands, a 32-hectare area straddling Front St. E., between Parliament St. and the Don River.

Land covered with derelict warehouses and polluted soil will be transformed into a neighbourhood of 5,800 homes, an elementary school, a recreation centre and parks — all within a five-minute walk of a new public transit line.

It is entirely possible to live a full and satisfying life in Toronto without noticing that it sits on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. That has been one of many tragedies of urban planning in Toronto over the past 50 years.

There are a few attractive spots along the lakeshore--Harbourfront, the Leslie Spit and Toronto Island come to mind--but otherwise, it's a patchwork of abandoned and active industrial and port sites, a bit of sand, a couple of underused trails, and condo projects.

If these people can make the waterfront as attractive as it should be, they'll have done a rare bit of decent urban planning in this city.

Source: Toronto Star

No comments: