Whither the Port Lands? Waterfront Toronto Public Meeting

With all the brouhaha over the Port Lands, and the Fords’ failed coup d’état on the Waterfront, attention now shifts to actually “getting something done”.

The Port Lands cover a large area south and east of the mouth of the Don River that is comparable in size to downtown Toronto.  This is a huge opportunity for redevelopment, but also a huge chance to screw things up pretty much forever.

Do we want a boring, car-oriented suburb complete with megamall, or do we want a new neighbourhood that brings a 21st century twist on downtown living?

Will we redevelop the river mouth as a striking park, a signature piece for Toronto’s waterfront, or will it simply become Exhibition Place East complete with Ferris Wheel and monorail?

How will we move people to and from this area?  Will transit be an afterthought or, for once, will we actually invest in capacity and service before the new buildings go up?

Waterfront Toronto begins its public consultations on the future of the Port Lands on Monday December 12 between 6:30 and 9:00pm at the Toronto Central Library (Yonge north of Bloor) in the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon on the second floor.

17 thoughts on “Whither the Port Lands? Waterfront Toronto Public Meeting

  1. Steve,

    I am assuming the usual? (You will attend the meeting and create a post later on about the meeting?).

    The Toronto Public Library meeting is on at the same time. At the Reference Library. I wish I could attend both. TPL takes priority.


  2. I really think we should let East Bayfront and West Donlands fully develop before thinking about the Portlands. As you said, its a huge chance to screw up, and I’d rather learn the lessons from those two projects before proceeding. Looking at Harbourfront and Cityplace gives me no confidence that Toronto planners and developers are capable of creating a viable instant neighbourhood.

    Steve: The pressure to speed up in the Port Lands comes from the Fords who want to see new revenue with which they can give you a tax break (while it lasts) as soon as possible. This won’t happen without an earlier buildout of some substantial infrastructure, and that will be on the public sector’s dime.


  3. I don’t know about the “Monorail”, Steve. That plan could have evolved into getting a DRL fasttracked.

    Steve: No, I am not willing to accept a third-rate “solution” as a strategic move that might (or might not) result in another desirable project moving up in priority. There are severe problems with monorails both in capacity and in the visual effect on the lands through which they travel. Nobody has yet explained how such a line would operate through the existing built-up area around Union Station.


  4. I’m puzzled. Chris Humes writes in Friday’s Star that the district energy system for the West Donlands has been cancelled. However, the Waterfront Toronto website reports that a contract was awarded in May, 2010 to CRCE Construction for “Mill Street Public Realm and District Energy Distribution Piping”.

    Steve: An excellent question for Monday’s meeting.


  5. Hmmm … difficult choice, but I think I’ll take the ferris wheel and the monorail.

    Bombardier’s Innovia Monorail 300 system can handle 40k per hour per direction.

    For what it’s worth, I think the appeal of a monorail system has always been its futuristic look vs. those aluminum tin cans we call T1s.

    Steve: And is usual for monorail vendors, they show a slim guideway from a point of view guaranteed to minimize the sense of visual intrusion, and they don’t how what a station, especially one that would be a major point on a 40k/hour line, would look like.


  6. Harbourfront started somewhere’s about 1970 in some form.
    Some of those condos went up in the early 1970’s .
    Changes are still being made.
    To date that is a 40 year duration.

    City Place, a private development, started in about 1985.
    The first condos went up in the early 1990’s.
    Completion , maybe 2015.
    Changes till 2020.
    Duration , say 35 years.

    The East Donlands were on the drawing board, in another form , in 1985.
    Completion now 2015.
    Changes till 2020.
    Duration , say 35 years.

    The so called Portlands .
    Same process , same people, same funding.
    Monorails and Ferris wheels are goofy, but wasn’t the Sunnyside Amusement Park and the Flyer (roller coaster) the big deal in the 1920’s.

    The Portlands have been discussed since ???

    At this point in time something is happening on West Bayfront, a positive note , which is not the Portlands.

    No one is going to finesse a quick solution to these type of developments.


  7. Bring back the monorail at the Zoo!

    Just kidding… But seriously, I fail to see what the attraction is in a failed technology that would be incompatible with every other bit of transit infrastructure.

    What is it with Toronto and weird incompatible bits of public transit infrastructure? EG Scarborough “toy trains” or conflicting Leslie TTC and Oriole GO stations. And Metrolinx is about to do another weirdness by failing to use TTC gauge on the Eglinton LRT line so that vehicles from all the rest of the system can’t use it. Just stupid.


  8. We (i.e. the family), actually had a ride on the Zoo monorail.

    We went many times to the Zoo, and one day we rode the monorail. It was a whim. i.e. no line ups

    It wasn’t that great because the animals are living their own lives and do not line-up to present the perfect picture for people on the monorail.

    The monorail rail was shut down due to a minor accident, one train hit another and the Zoo could not get insurance, after the accident, or did not have the funds to correct the problem.


  9. Actually according to a source who worked on the monorail after the accident the FIRST accident was not the cause of the decommissioning it was a SECOND accident that was not made public which caused it to be mothballed. Apparently they tried to get the ride operational again after the first accident but when they were doing tests the brakes failed again hitting and killing a deer. It was that second accident that caused the ride to be deemed unsafe and subsequently shut down.

    The second accident was never public knowledge, only that of those who worked on it at the time and the first accident was used as a cover presumably to avoid media scrutiny.


  10. What we do not need is yet another park along the waterfront, after all, if you want to lay in the grass, the Island is right there. Seriously though, whats the matter with another go like Sunnyside Amusement Park?? Little before my time but from the pictures and write-ups it was huge and people loved it! Same with the Palais… I really do not see why another little ‘neighborhood’ should get this piece of land?

    Steve: It’s not a “little” neighbourhood. The mouth of the river was planned as parkland as an essential part of the flood control for this area. Also, the total area is roughly the same size as downtown, and will house a few tens of thousands when it is built out. That’s not “little”.


  11. “And Metrolinx is about to do another weirdness by failing to use TTC gauge on the Eglinton LRT line so that vehicles from all the rest of the system can’t use it.”

    The great thing about this one is they can’t win—either they use standard gauge and get people complaining now, or they use TTC gauge and get people complaining about their short-sightedness when the Mississauga LRT/Brampton LRT/Toronto LRT transfer station at Pearson airport is more complicated to build and works less well because of the need to deal with multiple gauges.

    How is it that TTC gauge itself isn’t an example of weird incompatible Toronto transit infrastructure?


  12. Isaac Morland says:

    “How is it that TTC gauge itself isn’t an example of weird incompatible Toronto transit infrastructure?”

    Easy, it was compatible with what ran in Toronto when the TTC took over. There are many examples of non standard gauge transit operations in North America. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New Orleans run around 5′ 2″ . Baltimore used to run around 5′ 4″. The actual gauge is not as important as running all the same gauge.

    Actually the choice to build the new lines to standard gauge rather than TTC will prove to be a wise move if the province and Metrolinx ever get around to building more LRT lines in other cities. If they don’t then we have two gauges but the crosstown cars could not run on the city streets because of size and they could not be serviced at Greenwood because of incompatibles brought about by low floor design. Though, if they are going to build the Crosstown Scarborough line completely grade separated, then it would probably be smarter, and cheaper, to use high platform design with less costly articulations and trucks. The escalators, elevators and stairs would also be shorter as they would not need to go as deep, but I think Metrolinx wants to keep their options open for the future or they haven’t thought that far ahead.


  13. Seriously though, whats the matter with another go like Sunnyside Amusement Park?? Little before my time but from the pictures and write-ups it was huge and people loved it!

    People used to play in arcades… and not too long ago… things change.


  14. Just maybe, if Metrolinx/TTC engineering types want a solution for the track gauge problem, they can look at the technology/solution Bradford/Leeds came up with in 1910.

    Steve: It’s not really an issue because the likelihood of a link between the “old” and “new” systems is quite remote. We have far more pressing problems with transit planning in Toronto than the preservation of TTC gauge.


  15. So the public consultation on the future of the Port Lands is being in midtown?

    What a nice gesture toward the people who actually live and work in and around the Port Lands.

    Since the Port Lands have virtually zero public transit, it would be impossible for me to arrive at Yonge & Bloor by 6:30 from my 9-5:30 job in the Port Lands.

    Steve: Not to defend Waterfront Toronto’s choice of venue, but I think they wanted a fairly large room at modest cost. There’s certainly nothing in the Port Lands area itself. This issue is of interest to many people who don’t live or work on the waterfront, and Bloor-Yonge is a central location. I find it hard to believe you can’t get there between 5:30 and 6:30 even allowing for the wide headways on the 72A Pape bus, but you may be working in some far corner not served at all by transit.


  16. Nice turnout tonight. Chris Hume sat at a nearby table. I wonder what he’ll say. I did find out that the District Energy System (DES) for the West Donlands will NOT connect to the Pan Am Village. Two staff from Waterfront Toronto said there wasn’t time. It takes 1/5 the space and costs 1/3 of a conventional heating/cooling system to connect a building to a DES according to their own 2008 report.


  17. My primary problem with the gauge issue was that it was being used as a bogus financial argument. I won’t belabour the point. It would be nice if the wider gauge was used because it might reduce the likelihood of any form of ICTS being dumped on us however.

    Steve: Yes, it is rumoured that the losing bidder for the LFLRVs, who overbid Bombardier by 50%, was complaining that the odd gauge prevented them from offering a competitive price. That’s the sort of thing that plays in political circles where people are predisposed to think streetcars are a bad idea. Oddly enough, it didn’t prevent the same bidder from offering to build subway cars for Toronto that would be made in China, but with Toronto-gauge trucks.


Comments are closed.