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Mayoral candidate John Tory, shown in Toronto April 3, 2014, is touting an economic development plan for the East Don Lands near the foot of the Don Valley Parkway.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

Mayoral candidate John Tory says new development in the East Don Lands area could create up to 70,000 new jobs in Toronto – but his rivals are already attacking the plan, calling his announcement "empty."

Mr. Tory spoke to reporters at a coffee shop in the east end Thursday morning, vowing that, if elected, he would work with developers to create a "major business district" in the 23-hectare East Don Lands area, which includes the former Unilever site at the intersection of the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway.

The plan depends on city council agreeing to realign the eastern section of the Gardiner – the "hybrid solution" first floated by rival candidate Karen Stintz – which would redesign the link between the Don Valley and the Gardiner, and remove the current elevated section east of Jarvis Street.

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"As your Mayor, I will form a unique partnership with developers and investors, and work with city council to help maximize transit to create a new business hub," Mr. Tory said in a statement. "It's time we start saying yes, as a city, to bold and ambitious projects."

Mr. Tory said that unlocking the land (which is owned by First Gulf Corporation) to create the business hub would create 70,000 new jobs and bring in millions of dollars in new tax assessment.

But rival candidate Olivia Chow immediately attacked Mr. Tory's plan, saying it contained "almost nothing new."

"The vast majority of his so-called proposals are either in the purview of other governments, reliant upon a country club network, or already happening with him," she said in a statement.

She also noted that the Gardiner decision is already under consideration by the city (the issue does not return to council until February of next year).

Ms. Stintz also released a statement, saying Mr. Tory is simply following her lead in throwing his support behind the "hybrid" Gardiner solution.

"While imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, Toronto deserves a leader who understands the issue, understands people's frustrations, and has a track record of winning votes as Council and elections," she said in a statement.

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In response, Mr. Tory said: "There is no monopoly on good ideas. The job of mayor is to identify and champion the best ideas. I think my friend Karen and I should both give credit where credit is due – to David Gerofsky at First Gulf, and Councillor John Parker."

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