The firm that has run a cement terminal on the Toronto Port Lands for more than 80 years says it has no intention of moving and has “serious questions” about the latest attempt at transforming the waterfront site.
A revised plan to kick-start development on the Port Lands goes before Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee on Monday. The revitalization – the product of a year-long collaboration between the city and Waterfront Toronto – envisions the creation of a mixed-use neighbourhood anchored by a riverside park along a new naturalized mouth of the Don River.
Unlike previous plans, the latest revisions take into account the existence of nearby industry, specifically the privately owned Lafarge facility and Redpath Sugar. New drawings released last month show families picnicking with the cement plant in the distance and winter scenes with ships moored along dockside paths.
However, the drawings do not include the heavy truck traffic in the Port Lands that accompanies the flow of cement to the city’s busy construction industry, generated by the Lafarge facility.
A letter from a Lafarge executive to the mayor, councillors and Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell, obtained by The Globe and Mail, indicates there is still work to be done on the plan.
“Lafarge intends to remain at our current location and any redevelopment must reflect this,” said the letter, sent on Friday.
“We appealed the original redevelopment plans on the grounds that they did not contain clear and explicit provisions for the continued operation of our facilities. These concerns remain,” the letter states.
Lafarge moves about 400,000 tonnes of cement through its Polson Street facility each year, an operation that requires access to the port for ships full of cement powder and generates a steady flow of heavy truck traffic to supply Toronto’s construction industry.
The letter notes that without access to the harbour, it would take 40,000 heavy trucks on Toronto streets to deliver materials now brought by water and asks for more certainty that the new river mouth and changes to the slip will not impede the ability of ships to dock. The letter also asks that improvements be made to “minimize truck/pedestrian conflicts” as more people use the area.
As well, the company expresses concern about vague plans for a “catalyst site” on the harbour adjacent to their land. The site is envisioned as a public venue that would draw visitors to the area.
Paula Fletcher, the councillor for the area, said she plans to present a motion at Monday’s meeting requesting that the issues raised by the company be addressed during the planning process.
“They want to make sure they are not forgotten,” Ms. Fletcher said, noting that the original plans from Waterfront Toronto assumed existing industrial users would leave the area. “They want to feel part of the process and not be left behind like they felt they were before.”
In August, 2011, Councillor Doug Ford changed the direction of the Port Lands plan with his own proposal for the city to take control of redeveloping the site with a mega-mall, Ferris wheel and luxury hotel. That plan failed to get the support of councillors.