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Mayor unveils new plan for Port Lands

Construction at a Waterfront Toronto site. CITYNEWS.

The mayor’s plan backed by his councillor brother for the Port Lands was unveiled Tuesday at city hall, and part of the proposal involves taking back the land from Waterfront Toronto.

Eric Kuhne, an architect hired a few months ago, told the Executive Committee that the Port Lands would include a roundabout on Cherry Street with fountains, sculptures and cherry trees.

Kuhne added that the Fords’ much-maligned ferris wheel is a “speculative idea.”

“Revitalizing the Portlands will create jobs, develop a badly underused area, and increase economic growth in Toronto,” Mayor Rob Ford tweeted on Twitter during the meeting.

Currently, Waterfront Toronto controls the land at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway, south of the Gardiner Expressway. But the Ford brothers think the plan is moving too slowly, and want to take control of the project.

“We feel strongly we have a great plan,” John Campbell, president and CEO of Waterfront Toronto, told reporters at City Hall on Tuesday.

Waterfront Toronto chair Mark Wilson told the executive committee, “Any radical change on the scale of what’s being contemplated in our experience would take years and cost millions.”

Waterfront Toronto, an agency funded by federal, provincial and municipal governments, is involved in a 25-year, $625 million project to revitalize the area near the mouth of the Don, including the West Don Lands and central waterfront.

The Fords have proposed a major mall, a boat-in hotel, a massive ferris wheel for the area — all of which will be linked by a monorail.

The agency’s plan would encompass 300 acres of the lower Don rather than the revitalization of 1,000 acres under the mayor’s plan.

One of the differences between the two proposals is the plan for the mouth of the Don, which Waterfront Toronto wants to naturalize and develop, and the mayor wants to leave alone.

“It’s sickening. Years and years of work go into it. One of the speakers today talked about breaking faith with the citizens, and this really feels like a really low blow,” said Cindy Wilkey with the West Don Lands Committee.