Etobicoke Councillor Doug Ford, the brother of the mayor and his closest adviser, is the point man for ambitious new plans to put a waterfront hotel, “mega mall” and monorail at the foot of the Don River on land currently slated for a new community and urban park. The councillor says the existing plan for the Port Lands – approved by the former council last year – is not a plan at all because it will take 10 to 15 years to complete. He estimates five to six years for his option, and promised Tuesday to release drawings within a week. Here is what he has to say.
The city owns about 450 acres in the Port Lands. Mr. Ford puts a price of $5-million to $10-million an acre on the land, which he proposes selling to private developers.
As a former industrial site, a cleanup will be required for the soil on the Port Lands site and as owner, the city will be on the hook for those costs. Mr. Ford puts that price at roughly $500,000 an acre.
A public-private partnership would build a monorail to take passengers west to the Air Canada Centre and Ontario Place and east to the planned Pan Am Games athletes’ village site, Mr. Ford says. It would also turn south at Cherry Street and run through the Port Lands, with stops at a Ferris wheel, a waterfront hotel, Cherry Beach, a mega-mall and a refurbished Hearn generating station.
The city is still searching for private developers to fund its other promised transit project – the Sheppard Subway extension.
The Ferris wheel
Mr. Ford wants it to be the biggest in the world and rival the London Eye. “The Ferris wheel is just a cash cow,” he said.
The city will have to build big to top the Singapore Flyer, the world’s “largest giant observation wheel” at 165 metres.
Mr. Ford envisions an “iconic,” waterfront hotel with shuttle-boat service from the island airport.
The city is already witnessing a luxury hotel building boom with the new Ritz-Carleton and the Four Seasons and Shangri-La under construction.
A mega mall is promised by Mr. Ford, with big U.S. banners such as Bloomingdales and Macy’s, an antidote for Canadians who have fewer square feet of retail options per person than our neighbours to the south.
The east-end neighbourhood north of the Port Lands has shown itself to be a fierce opponent to big retail projects, stopping a proposed big-box mall on Eastern Avenue.
The Hearn Generating Station
A refurbished building would have ice pads on the main floor and soccer pitches on the second, Mr. Ford says.
The city has a chronic shortage of rinks, but the last plans to build an arena on the waterfront proved too costly for Toronto’s pocketbook.