March 8, 2004

MP says Ottawa should invest $78M in "quick-start" projects for Toronto waterfront

The creation of a national brownfield network, an association of people and industries active in the field of brownfield remediation across Canada, is one of 30 proposals for "quick-start" projects to revitalize Toronto's waterfront. In a report to Prime Minister Paul Martin, Toronto-Danforth Member of Parliament Dennis Mills said these projects would cost a total of $78 million to implement, over and above already committed federal funds.

Mills' recommendations are outlined in The Toronto Waterfront Action Plan: Building on the Green Footsteps, a report he presented late last month to the Prime Minister. In mid-January, Martin assigned Mills the task of looking at waterfront renewal and developing specific recommendations for how the federal government could implement specific projects immediately. The report represents the conclusion of the assignment.

"Toronto loves the waterfront. It is our major tourist attraction. The remaining Port Lands are available for revitalization and the government of Canada must play a role. Many issues of national importance are reflected in the projects we are recommending," said Mills in a letter to the Prime Minister.

Included in the report are recommendations for extensive parks and greenspace, water quality and other environmental protection initiatives, improved transit and infrastructure, a UN Peace University, 6,000 mixed income housing units (including affordable housing), sports and recreation facilities, and tourist and cultural attractions.

Nearly 300 environmental assessments, some federal and some provincial, must be conducted to fulfill the waterfront revitalization plan. The report says the federal government should work with its Ontario counterparts to establish a harmonized environmental assessment (EA) process, similar to that used for the Olympic bid, to conduct assessments on a batching basis to ensure that they are complete, timely and thorough. The federal government, it adds, should consider contributing to the EA for the mouth of the Don River. (The purpose of this EA is to evaluate required flood protection near the mouth of the Don.)

Along with the national brownfield network, Mills' report recommends that the federal government consider investing in or contributing to a number of Port Lands projects, such as: the Port Lands preparation (work required to clean up brownfield sites and to make the Port Lands acceptable for redevelopment); Port Lands pipeline removal (work required to excavate old, redundant industrial infrastructure on the Ship Channel so that the lands can be redeveloped for other uses); and Port Lands storm sewer re-routing (a project to change the course of the storm sewer that empties into the Ship Channel to improve water quality in the inner harbour.

The report also calls for federal involvement in numerous greenspace initiatives, citing specific departments to play lead roles. Some of these include:

*designation of the Lake Ontario Park, 150 acres to be set aside as a national park administered by Parks Canada (Environment Canada);

*remediation of the Leslie Street spit baselands to make this 50-acre parcel of land accessible to public use (Parks Canada);

*support for an environmental protection plan for the Leslie Street spit; and

*development of the outer harbour marina area for picnic and beach activities (Infrastructure Canada, Transport Canada).

The report acknowledges three Torontonians' efforts and dedication to the city's waterfront: the late conservationist Charles Sauriol (whose book, The Green Footsteps, inspired the report's title), former Toronto Mayor David Crombie and Toronto Revitalization Corporation chairman Robert Fung.

"These recommendations reflect and give testimony to the work and thoughts of many who have dedicated their lives to the city," Mills said. "Their footsteps are large and I propose we follow in them."

The full report may be viewed on-line at www.greenfootsteps.ca. More information may be requested by E-mail from info@greenfootsteps.ca.

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