Ever been to Chicago? The dowtown waterfront has one solitary condo tower. The rest of the waterfront is devoted to 'public realm' - beaches, parks, art, festivals...it's wonderful. I heard, when taking the one of the two tourist tours I've ever enjoyed, that Chicago (ironically) based its' plans for their waterfront on Toronto's old plans for our waterfront.

What happened to our old plans? No idea. Hopefully, we'll make up for whatever went wrong with a better use of the waterfront that we have left. The graphic above shows how a hideously ugly industrial slip could be transformed. The Keating Channels current residents include many vital, if unattractive, tenants - the G4L waste centre, a boat haul company, etc. If the city planners can provide a LOT of public space with bike paths, parkland, and space for kids to play I'm all for it.

The hard part, in my opinion, would be to avoid creating an isolated area like Liberty Village. Easy commuter access, and really good paths to Cherry / Woodbine beaches, and the Tommy Thompson park, will be key to its' tenants success. Whatever the eventual outcome is, I hope the City planners get this one right.

Background: The Lower Don Lands is a 125 hectare (308 acre) area that runs from East Bayfront (the Parliament Street Slip) east to the Don Roadway and from West Don Lands (the rail corridor) south to the Ship Channel. Waterfront Toronto plans to transform the largely underutilized industrial area into new sustainable parks and communities. The naturalization and shifting of the mouth of the Don River is the centrepiece of the plans for the Lower Don Lands.

Tired of the Chicago comparison? So is Waterfront Toronto.

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