Is this the Ford administration's waterfront compromise?
Councillor Peter Milczyn, chair of the planning and growth management committee, is apparently the mayor's office's point person to fix the waterfront development mess.
Below is an email Milczyn sent to some supporters suggesting a possible compromise. Below that is his office's response to the Star's questions about the email. Any compromise will be subject to a council vote next week, even though the email makes his plan sound like a fait accompli.
It's interesting to note that, while Milzczyn argues the vote is not about the Toronto Port Lands Co. "vision" for the eastern waterfront, Councillor Doug Ford was lobbying his colleagues to vote for the motion -- to start negotiations to take control of the land from Waterfront Toronto -- expressly so that vision can be made a reality. Ford is showing the councillors a flip chart of renderings.
Also of note is that Milczyn says the city may "undertaking planning studies for the additional
600 acres of City Portlands that have not yet been subject to any detailed planning," with "robust" public consultation. Paul Bedford, the city's former chief planner who is among 147 experts lobbying council to stick with the Waterfront Toronto plan, is arguing that, just because Waterfront Toronto hasn't yet planned the land doesn't mean it should be subject to a different type of development.
Here's the email, which was obtained by Matt Elliott (@graphicmatt):
From: "Councillor Milczyn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 14 September, 2011 5:35:36 PM EDT
Subject: Revitalization Opportunities for the Port Lands - UPDATE ON REPORT GOING TO CITY COUNCIL
On September 6th, the Executive Committee debated a Staff Report tabled
with respect to EX9.6 Toronto Port Lands Company - Revitalization
Opportunities for the Port Lands (please see the link further below in
blue to review the minutes of the meeting, the Staff Report that was
tabled and the decisions of the Executive Committee on this item).
Many residents have written to me, asking for clarity of what is
actually coming before Toronto City Council on the 21st of September for
this item, and for my explanation on this important item. I am
providing them to you now.
I ask you to monitor my website www.petermilczyn.com for additional
updates once Council has voted on this item AND when any further
recommendations or Staff Reports are brought back to Toronto City
Council for our consideration. Your ongoing feedback is welcomed.
Revitalization Opportunities for the Port Lands
Outline of the Process Moving Forward
Overview and comments from Councillor Peter Milczyn
Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore
MINUTES OF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ON September 6TH (item EX9.6):
I believe that the recent controversy at City Hall over the
redevelopment of the City’s Port Lands, was the result of a lack of
understanding (and media reporting) of the actual recommendations in the
City Manager’s Report to Executive Committee, and the distraction
caused by images created by some prominent architects and urban
designers to demonstrate ideas from various waterfront developments
around the world.
To be clear, the Executive Committee, and Toronto City Council do not
have a new waterfront plan before us for consideration or approval.
The images you may have seen of ideas from other cities, and which are
skilfully architecturally rendered, are not an actual plan or a proposal
The Staff Report written by the City Manager seeks Council's approval
to initiate discussions with Waterfront Toronto about the development of
1,000 acres of City owned lands which were transferred to Waterfront
Toronto as part of the Agreement (Memorandum of Understanding) between
the Federal, Provincial, and Toronto to create the framework to
co-ordinate redevelopment of Toronto’s waterfront.
The City has always retained the right to take back control over lands
owned by us.
I encourage you to read the rest this email for a detailed explanation
of this Staff Report and the recommendations that will be before Toronto
City Council on the 21st.
The recommendations to review the currently approved plans stem in part
from the fact that City staff were not allowed to undertake a detailed
financial or economic analysis of the plan before its approval last
year. We have now learned that there was political pressure to ensure
the approval of the plan before the last municipal election without the
benefit of a more thorough analysis of its implications on the City’s
finances, or value of our lands.
The Staff Report titled “Lower Donlands Project” from May 31, 2010
indicated this in carefully couched terms which have only recently been
more fully explained (if you would like me to send you a link to this
report, please email me and I would be happy to provide it to you).
It is interesting to note that when that Report was debated and voted
on at Toronto City Council, that only five members of City Council voted
against the plan in 2010. Four of those five members continue to serve
on Council, and they now are the most vocal critics of the re-evaluation
proposed and the strongest defenders (publically at least) of the
current plan which they did not support. It appears their motivation
may be purely political.
The Memorandum of Understanding executed in 2006 outlined the
expectation that the Port Lands would be developed over a 20-25 year
If approved at Council this month, the review of revitalization
opportunities for the Port Lands will look at opportunities to
accelerate that time line.
A key point to keep in mind, is that the current approved “Lower
Donlands” plan (2010) actually only covers 400 acres of Waterfront
lands and the remaining 600 acres of City owned Portlands are still
awaiting the creation of a plan for their future redevelopment.
To carry out this review of revitalization opportunities, all parties
● ensure a robust and comprehensive public consultation process
that is consistent with the standard and expectation in the Designated
● have a fresh look at the options for the Don Mouth Environmental
Assessment ("EA") and the Lower Don Lands to ensure that the plan is
accurately costed and sufficiently funded.
Any review of the plans for the Port Lands will be a significant
undertaking that requires the cooperation and collaboration of the City
of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto, Toronto Port Lands Company (TPLC) and
the Toronto & Region Conservation Authourity (TRCA).
Each organization will bring its substantial set of skills, background
and credibility to the discussion that is essential to expedite the
implementation of any plan for the Port Lands.
This review will look at two things:
● The current Environmental Assessment (EA)
● The economic model for development of the Port Lands.
This will be done while recognizing financial constraints of the three
orders of government and the basic objectives of the EA.
The TRCA, in conjunction with the City and Waterfront Toronto, and with
input from TPLC, will undertake a re-examination of the EA.
The EA re-examination will incorporate the costing and economic
analysis from the work of TPLC (see below) and Waterfront Toronto's
business plan for all EA options for the Port Lands.
The TRCA, Waterfront Toronto (WT) and the City will coordinate all
public consultation for review of the Don Mouth EA and Lower Don
Lands plan to ensure that public consultation is provided at a standard
consistent with the EA Terms of Reference. Public consultation shall
consider formats that were previously utilized (facilitation, working
groups, sub-committees, etc.).
TPLC, with input from WT, will undertake a business plan for the Port
Lands as outlined in the August 22, 2011 staff report to Executive
The RFP for this work will be vetted with all parties to ensure that
its scope is comprehensive.
The analysis will include a review of the development model, financial
incentives and tools that could be used for the development of the Port
Lands (TIF, TIGs, Development Charges, CIPs, etc.), and financing
mechanisms (public and private) that are designed to offset the cost to
the City of infrastructure requirements.
The TPLC Port Lands business plan will be reviewed by the City. The
plan will include:
● an analysis of alternative financial scenarios to determine
whether additional density and/or mix of uses can provide a financial
return to offset the costs of development in the Port Lands;
● a review of other development models (i.e. making land available
through RFI/RFP processes, as-is market sale, pre-established
cost-sharing arrangements, etc.); and
● finding ways of minimizing the City's taxpayer funded obligation
to fund the development of the Port Lands.
As the TPLC business plan is being completed, the City will initiate a
review of the Port Lands planning framework to assess whether any
changes will be necessary.
This may also include undertaking planning studies for the additional
600 acres of City Portlands that have not yet been subject to any
**These studies would be anchored within a robust public consultation
● Both Waterfront Toronto and TPLC shall work together to present
and explain the findings Waterfront Toronto Business Plan for the Lower
Don Lands and TPLC Business Plan for the Port Lands and gather input
from the public and provide the City with joint recommendations to move
● Following the public consultation period and review of economic
analysis and options, City staff in collaboration with Waterfront
Toronto, will prepare recommendations to City Council with a
recommendation regarding the EA and an appropriate business case to
proceed with accelerated Port Land development.
Thank you for taking the time to review these comments and I appreciate
your patience with the delay my response to you.
Councillor Peter Milczyn
Ward 5 | Etobicoke-LakeshoreAnd here's the response from his office:The email below was a simply a response the Councillor sent to a small group - about 20 or 30 residents I believe (was not a mass email to the ward or the city). It was sent to provide additional information and clarity - in response to questions they had written the Councillor directly about (pertaining to the Port Lands) and coming up at Council this month.My best,Susan O'Connor, EA to Councillor Milczyn