Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Toronto waterfront is the lakeshore of Lake Ontario next to the downtown core of the city of Toronto, Canada. Once an industrial and shipping area, decades of attempts to rehabilitate the area have been made, but none has been successful. Many politicians have promised change, but it has yet to occur.
The potential for the waterfront is great, it currently is mostly deserted industrial sites after industry left the area beginning in the 1970s. Plans for revitalization include large amounts of parkland, pedestrian walkways, business and residential areas. More vaunted structures such as an aquarium or a new university have also been proposed.
The main obstacle to these efforts in lack of funding from all three levels of government, federal, provincial, and municipal. The alternative to government planned construction has occurred on some stretchs of the area and what results are many towering condominiums that create an imposing screen between the city and the lake.
The jurisdictional issue is a complex one. The federal government has authority over port facilities, the municipality has direct control of the zoning, while the province controls the municipality and is usually involved in any large ventures. The region is further divided among a number of ministries from Indian and Northern Affairs to Parks Canada. In the late 1990s MP Dennis Mills sought to solve these problems by creating the Toronto Port Authority, but it resulted in yet another entity that demanded funding and a voice in any changes. In 2001 the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation was created in another effort to centralize control it was promised $1.5 billion by the three levels of government. Only $35 million was delivered, however.
An important obstacle is the Gardiner Expressway a raised highway that runs just north of the lakeshore and also serves to separate the city from the lake. Almost all plans call for moving or burying the Gardiner, but any such plan would be extremely expensive.
The first efforts at change were launched in the 1970s and resulted in the construction of some facilities, most notably the Harbourfront Centre. The nearby CN Tower and SkyDome were also linked to improving the area. These projects, with the exception of the tower, saw massive cost overruns and became heavily criticized.
In 1988 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney called a Royal Commission into the waterfront that was headed by former mayor David Crombie. It reported in 1992 with a detailed, but expensive plan of environmentally sound development. Few of the recommendation were carried out, however with nothing done by Bob Rae's provincial government or the federal government.
Toronto's bids for the 1996 and 2008 Summer Olympics saw plans for much of the new facilities to be located along the waterfront, all three levels of government committed to spend a great deal if the games were won, but on both attempts Toronto lost and the waterfront went unchanged.
All politicians running in Toronto promise to do something about the waterfront, especially on the federal level. In the 1997 Canadian election the federal Liberals promised $355 million for the waterfront, but this was not delivered. In the 2000 election the Liberals promised $300 million to revitalize the area, but as with previous promises this was not carried through and only ten million dollars were provided, mostly to continue the operations of the Toronto Port Authority. In preparation for the 2004 Canadian election Paul Martin and the Liberals have promised $125 million for the waterfront.
Politicians such as former mayor Mel Lastman and MP Dennis Mills have promised in each election campaign to revitalize the waterfront, but after many years in office no substantial improvements have been made.
In 2003 the Port Authority became extremely unpopular in Toronto for its plan to build a bridge to the Toronto Island Airport. The 2003 Toronto mayoral election hinged on the plan and the electorate overwhelmingly rejected the idea by voting for David Miller. The port authority refused to cancel the project, and instead opted to sue the newly elected government.
Anti-poverty activists have also questioned plans that do not include subsidized housing or help for the poor.
In 2004, The Breeze began regular ferry service between Pier 52 and Rochester, New York, using trailers in a container yard near the end of Cherry Street for security and customs screening facilities. The Port Authority expects to have a permanent marine passenger terminal completed by January 2005. Its current lack of adequate terminal services has been noted among the reasons for the suspension of the ferry service, as of September 7, 2004, for an indeterminate amount of time.
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