Revisiting The Waterfront

Toronto’s election is now in full swing.  Testy candidates fling mud and announce what passes for platforms.

On the transit front, the three big debates seem to be how many subways can fit within a single announcement, and how much transit service will remain after a review of the so-called fiscal irresponsibility at the TTC.  And, o yes, what to do about our streetcars.

One big topic everyone has missed in all of the debates and counter-claims is transit to the waterfront.  Consider the land from east of the Don to the west end of Exhibition Place, not to mention the long-term potential of southern Etobicoke and Scarborough.  The room for development dwarfs what is now “downtown” Toronto.  What will we build there?  How will people move around?  Will we have downtown densities with suburban transit?  Will we invest in the waterfront and show that “Transit First” is more than a slogan?

Toronto is a “city of neighbourhoods”, a fine motto, and with luck the new waterfront communities will extend the fine-grained street life we see in the “old” city including its already redeveloped areas like the “two Kings” and the St. Lawrence.  Waterfront Toronto’s plans for the water’s edge and for a totally redesigned, transit, cyclist and pedestrian focussed Queen’s Quay will be wonderful if we pull it off, if the money doesn’t run out, if the will to build streets for people, not for cars, survives the coming election.

So far, there are few stirring speeches, visions for our future lakefront, commitments to see beyond individual developments to an overall design.  A review of the waterfront lands is a worthwhile topic for a new article and, no doubt, a robust discussion.

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