Statement of Support
written by NoJetsTO
City Council will have before it a request from Robert Deluce, President and CEO of Porter Airlines, to undertake a study on the feasibility of amending the Tripartite Agreement.
The Tripartite Agreement was established to protect the City’s interests on the waterfront. As such, it specifically prohibits lengthening runways and use of jet aircraft at the Island Airport.
The organizations and individuals signing below respectfully request that Council vote against commissioning a feasibility study and reconfirm the City’scommitment to protect our waterfront by enforcing the Tripartite Agreement’s existing restraints.
We believe that Toronto’s waterfront is a unique natural PUBLIC resource that should be protected for in order to protect the residential, leisure and recreational uses of our waterfront for present and future generations.
The Tripartite Agreement was signed to protect the City’s interests on the waterfront. As such, it specifically prohibits lengthening runways and jet aircraft.
If approved, this proposal will affect:
A decision to allow jets will profoundly and permanently damage our waterfront’s potential, in favour of a noisy and polluting industrial use.
Pearson has the capacity to accommodate this growth. With the Metrolinx fast rail link from Union Station to Pearson, now under construction, jets belong at Pearson.
The following cities were featured in the Fast Company story “The Top 10 Smartest North American Cities” — this article was linked to on Toronto.ca’s “casino consultation” web page
1. BOSTON: no casino
Massachusetts state government is considering applications to open a casino in
Springfield — a zero-growth small city across state from Boston.
2. SAN FRANCISCO: no casino
There are Native American casinos and “poker rooms” in suburban and exurban locations.
3. SEATTLE: no large downtown venue
Several suburban “house-banked card rooms” calling themselves “casinos” exist in bowling alleys, malls, etc. (e.g. Roxy’s Bar & Grill).
4. VANCOUVER: Edgewater Casino — “boutique” slots and table games facility on False Creek
Vancouver Council has refused all requests by the casino to enlarge its operations. Other venues are near suburban race tracks etc.
5. NEW YORK: no Manhattan casino
Suburban casino facilities at race tracks — Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway.
6. WASHINGTON D.C.: no casino
There are no casinos in the District of Columbia.
8. CHICAGO: no downtown casinos
There is a small casino near O’Hare Airport (Des Plaines) and others exist in farther suburbs and exurbs — “riverboat” floating casinos are in small cities (Elgin, Joliet, Aurora, etc.).
9. LOS ANGELES:
Hosts poker rooms and small suburban casinos, centred on the municipality of Commerce CA.
Casino de Montréal is sequestered from the city on otherwise undevelopedÎle Notre-Dame. Montreal media reports the casino has had effectively no impact on tourism and primarily attracts lower income Montrealers.
… And CodeBlueTO’s #11 …
SugarHouse Casino is the only North American, major city casino that closely resembles the location and downtown linkage of a proposed Toronto casino. It was built on a brownfield, on the Delaware River waterfront, close to downtown. (Philadelphia, despite its size, is on no one’s list of “smart” cities.)
Here is a sample of reviews on Yelp.com for SugarHouse Casino – accessed 1/3/2013.
Overall rating 2 stars out of 5. (86 reviews.):
“You can definitely smell and FEEL the desperation in the room. From the looks of the patrons around the table games that I was involved in, lots of rent money and child support were being gambled and lost … It’s full of people who struggle, and for those that do, they smoke.”
— Keith O., New York NY (2 stars)
“It’s going to be hard to make the riverfront a true mixed use Mecca if this is the best they can do.”
— Collin S., Tampa FL (2 stars)
“… [H]as a clientele that probably should be doing something else with their money. The heartbreak and despair in the room is palatable. Not an upbeat place at all. SugarHouse is an excellent example of why casinos in a city aren’t really a good thing.”
— Brian M., Devon PA (2 stars)
Time is running out! But there are still different ways to let the city know how you feel about having a casino in Toronto.
The last two community discussion will be held:
The city’s online feedback form must be submitted by Friday January 25, 2013.
You can find more information about ways to participate, as well as background information on the City of Toronto’s “Have Your Say” page.
City Hall, Committee Room 1
September 10, 2012
Mayor Ford and Councillors, thank you.
Well, what a difference a year makes!
Today, the City of Toronto is back at the working table with its citizens, Waterfront Toronto and TRCA [Toronto and Region Conservation Authority] on the waterfront. This shows in the quality of the Staff Report and recommendations before this committee.
A year ago, CodeBlueTO came into existence as a virtual citizens’ watchdog of the city’s intentions in the Port Lands. We joined other citizens’ groups, landowners and users of the Port Lands to help move the Lower Don Lands forward from vision to solid planning and – hopefully soon – to reality.
CodeBlueTO supports the recommendations in this report. We are excited to move ahead with finalizing the Don Mouth Environmental Assessment and precinct planning within the terms of this report. We are convinced that realization of the Port Lands vision is beginning, and we are looking forward to specific next steps:
1. Work needs to begin on an overall Port Lands planning framework with full, transparent, public engagement to the high standard of Waterfront Toronto and this process. There is an overall planning document attached as an appendix to the Staff Report, but we think that it did not receive the rigorous public debate and engagement that the Lower Don Lands plans received, and it needs to be confirmed through similar public consultation. Precinct planning will need clear direction as to how transit, pedestrian and vehicle connections will be made to the rest of the city. And precinct developers and the public will need certainty on what will be planned in the precincts next door and how people will move about as development phases in.
2. The naturalization of the Don River and the financing and completion of the river’s connection through the River Precincts to the Lake need to be accelerated. These critical elements – the central features of the Lower Don Lands – cannot be left to the indefinite future. If financing and building the naturalized Don River is not made more certain, it cannot be said to be done, and the key to city-building is the district is indistinct.
3. We need clarity and commitment that all current and future revenues from leases, land sales and other development revenues in the Port Lands will be directed towards Port Lands revitalization and city-building.
Naturalization, a transparent planning regime going forward, and a commitment to expedient, excellent public transit connections will form the backbone of a full Port Lands planning framework that will provide certainty for the public, the private sector and future government players at all government levels.
Thank you. We will be watching and engaged.
After the deputations: the Executive Committee recommendations. These will be considered at the October 2 City Council meeting.
CodeBlueTO has a number of concerns, questions and comments about progress on the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative (PLAI) that we wish to express at this stage.
However, we first want to indicate our gratification that the PLAI review of the Environmental Assessment’s flood protection options has confirmed that the preferred alternative (4WS) continues to be the optimal approach to flood protection of the Port Lands – albeit with suggested realignments. We also recognize the value of the additional phasing and costing analysis, which has identified a potential strategy for staged implementation for flood protection and development. Although few details have been made available, it also appears that there is some optimism that the process will lead to concrete funding or financing strategies that can start to make the first steps of Port Lands revitalization feasible, even in these challenging economic times.
While important progress has been made on the business planning side of the initiative, we are concerned that the analysis is seriously underdeveloped in areas that are critical to the success of the PLAI – both for building broad support for the work in the short run, and for achieving the important city-building goals of the Central Waterfront Plan over the longer term. As a result, we have a number of questions, concerns and comments about the work that has been shared to date, as well as some specific suggestions as to what steps might be taken over the next phase.
1. Naturalization and River Design
… to establish and sustain the form, features, and functions of a natural river mouth within the context of a revitalized City environment while providing flood protection up to the Regulatory Flood.
— Terms of Reference: Goal of the Don Mouth Naturalization Project Environmental Assessment
NATURALIZATION: First, CodeBlueTO wants to stress thatnaturalizing the Don River in the Lower Don Lands is a separate and distinct issue from resolving the issue of flood protection for surrounding areas. Indeed, we know from the work on the West Don Lands Flood Protection Landform that the engineering requirements for flood protection can, in fact, stand in the way of habitat restoration.
No evaluation of naturalization potential for the realigned 4WS (4WSR) proposed by the PLAI has been provided. However, we feel that the proposal’s reduction of the size of the flood plain, combined with a reduction in the overall green space, will limit aquatic habitat value while also drastically reducing the potential terrestrial habitat value – unless the open space devoted to active recreation is severely curtailed, which no one would wish to see. Simply put, a naturalized Don River mouth with virtually no tree canopy would be a serious choke point for migration of neotropical passerine (perching) birds, the very birds that currently pass through. Even as compared to existing conditions in the Port Lands, such a revision could pose a negative effect on bird migration.
Members of CodeBlueTO are also very concerned that construction of a naturalized river mouth will have to wait until phases 4 and 5 of redevelopment, which requires waiting until the agreement with the adjacent landowner over use of the dock wall expires – i.e., until the adjacent landowner moves from its present location. This leaves us wondering whether a naturalized river mouth will be achieved in our lifetimes. Indeed, we wonder what the impact of dock wall uses will be on adjacent aquatic and terrestrial habitat in the interim.
Although an extended and detailed discussion of naturalization choices and strategies for the river mouth was an important part of the public consultation and technical work under the existing Environmental Assessment, there has been no similar discussion as part of the PLAI. It is essential that the specifics of naturalization be addressed as part of the current initiative. Each phase of development of the river and its related ecosystems – whether in three phases or in five – must include a specific commitment to naturalization. In other words, completing part of the overall naturalization plan should be a commitment in each phase of the development, with associated costs identified in the plan.
The recommendations that go forward must address how a naturalized river will be achieved – including technical details as to how a realigned 4WS will be designed and implemented in order to:
This would require articulating a comprehensive definition of “naturalization” to determine whether or not modifications of existing plans for the Lower Don Lands conform to the EA’s requirements.
We recommend that a series of stakeholder workshops be convened over the next two months to evaluate the capability of a realigned 4WS to meet the naturalization goals set out in the EA Terms of Reference. These workshops should consider:
RIVER DESIGN: As was noted repeatedly in the stakeholder and public meetings, there is significant concern that, in optimizing for cost and development potential, the current river design has lost the “magic” and transformative power of the existing design by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). There has been repeated criticism of the decision to reduce green space along the river course – moving it instead to mid-development blocks. There has been criticism of the river path itself, which appears to reproduce the same unnatural 90° turn as the Keating Channel. There are concerns that bringing the river out in its final stretch saves a few acres of development land at too great an expense to naturalization and place-making.
We believe a better result can and must be achieved from an urban design perspective. We are recommending that a design process be initiated immediately with stakeholder involvement from the outset to enhance the river design and integrate work from the naturalization workshops. We further recommend that the MVVA team be invited back to lead this design process, as they have already worked extensively with all of the parties, including community stakeholders, and have advanced knowledge of aspects of the relevant technical requirements. This process could start with an interactive planning event resembling the Don Greenway charrette, which provided a productive and creative opportunity for education, visioning and consensus building.
We share the concerns of many at the SAC/LUAC and public consultation meetings that planning for transit has not been adequately undertaken.
As the PLAI research has indicated, high quality rapid transit in the Lower Don Lands and Port Lands is essential to attract the kind of private sector investment that is necessary to achieve the City’s aspirations for economic revitalization. Creating quality of place through the provision of viable, rapid, high quality transportation is a critical necessity for creating livable new mixed-use neighbourhoods. In our view, a bus right-of-way – even as a stop-gap measure – does not constitute adequate planning for the area. The negative reaction of investors in East Bayfront to the failed delivery of the promised Queen’s Quay LRT should confirm this point.
As with plans for other infrastructure for the area, we expect that a detailed plan for funding and implementation of high-quality rapid transit – transit that can support the concentration of workers and residents projected for the area – will be included in the next round of public and stakeholder consultations.
3. Business Plan
A great deal of work has been accomplished on the business plan side of the PLAI. Many consultants have been retained to analyze infrastructure implementation and phasing costs, potential development pace, potential revenues, potential financing and funding mechanisms. The SAC/LUAC and public have been given a very high-level report on the results of this work, but the information received to date has tended to raise more questions than it has answered.
Again, we are requesting that one or more technical briefings be conducted on the business plan issues to allow stakeholders to review the analysis in more detail and to explore questions about the analysis. We recommend that one briefing be held relatively soon to deal with questions coming out of the SAC/LUAC and public meeting, and that a second briefing be held toward the end of the summer to allow a more in depth discussion of the specific funding or financing recommendations.
4. Comprehensive Planning for the Port Lands
At the beginning of this process, it was understood that the PLAI was intended to look at the Port Lands as a whole – a goal that has had broad support from a public that did not want to see one-off developments approved without an overall road map in place.
To date, some very preliminary steps have been taken in the form of identifying possible planning precincts and articulating certain values – such as the Central Waterfront Plan “core principles” – that are intended to guide planning. But it seems fair to say that, so far, what has been shared with the public has been very rudimentary.
We are aware that implementing comprehensive planning for the whole Port Lands is a daunting task – particularly given that for much of the Port Lands, the development horizon is a long way off. At the same time, there is a need to move quickly to a greater level of specificity in areas that might be ripe for development. An example can be found in the film precinct, where private land owners / leasees have begun to put together precinct planning proposals on their own. There is a need to integrate that process with initiatives in other areas, such as South Riverdale, in order to seize every opportunity to create better connections between the Port Lands and the rest of Toronto.
We note that developments in the concrete campus area are in varying stages of approval. Vacancies on the Hearn site, the Lever site and Cascades site present large-scale immediate opportunities for public open space and transportation infrastructure. These projects need to have a bigger planning framework to establish promontories, pedestrian and cycling networks, and view corridors and to connect in with the longer-term plans for development and open space centred on Cherry Street. As well, a framework is required to formalize needed connection improvements at Cherry Street, Carlaw and Leslie. Such a framework will provide some certainty for employment uses that will continue to exist in order to secure well paying jobs in the Port Lands. They need buffers and safe passageways through to ensure compatibility with existing and future uses.
By the end of the PLAI, we expect to see a program for advancing high-level framework planning for the full Port Lands, with a specific time table for initiating precinct planning in key precincts. And, as with all waterfront planning and development processes, we expect confirmation that Waterfront Toronto will continue to be the planning, development, and implementation lead for the Port Lands.
CodeBlueTO would like to thank you for the opportunity to comment on this phase of the PLAI initiative.
Friday June 8 is the deadline to submit responses to Round 3 of the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative. This is a chance to outline visions for the waterfront’s Port Lands district, and what our priorities should be there.
To find out how to send comments, please go to http://www.portlandsconsultation.ca/.
In August, there will be a final public meeting about the PLAI before a report is submitted to City Council. Details to come.
Key background material: