When the U.S. Green Building Council chose Toronto as the location of the first Greenbuild convention beyond U.S. borders, it talked up Ontario's capital city as a hotbed of sustainable planning and development. The world's largest Ferris wheel, a 1.6-million-square-foot megamall, and a boat-in resort hotel were probably the last things on their minds.
Toronto citizens were just as surprised as Greenbuild planners must have been to discover in late August that all these features—plus a monorail—are part of a new waterfront vision proposed by Mayor Rob Ford. The proposal, which seeks to speed up waterfront development and make the industrial port lands area into an international tourist destination, is intended to replace an environmental reclamation and mixed-use urban revitalization plan that city, provincial, and federal governments have been working on jointly for more than a decade. The mayor’s proposal—which would transfer control of the land away from the three-tiered government steward and allow the City to sell it to developers instead—has already passed executive committee and will be voted on by the city council September 21, two weeks before Greenbuild.