No Concrete Solutions for the Waterfront (Yet)

“We are not moving.”

This was the site supervisor at Lafarge Canada’s lake-side cement depot this afternoon, and it could easily be the substance of a letter that Waterfront Toronto received from the concrete company this morning.

LaFarge’s property, which sits at the mouth of a future, naturalized Don River, made news recently when plans for waterfront redevelopment were giving the company’s Port Lands operations a wide berth. OpenFile does a good rundown here.

Unfortunately, as plans for the waterfront go to Executive Committee on Monday, that the situation is still unresolved means that there remain serious consequences for the design and phasing of the Port Lands. (Isn’t having a working concrete plant at the mouth of a naturalized river – around which you’re planning on phasing in high-density, mixed-use communities – a SimCity problem? Also: who pays to dredge the river mouth?)

The cultural value of a working industrial site at the centre of waterfront development isn’t an easy sell. (See Ginny, that’s where condo’s come from, etc..) As long as the relationship between the company and the city remains headed for the OMB, Waterfront Toronto is in a tough position.

LaFarge’s waterfront concerns are long-standing: definitely back to 2007, with an appeal to the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan, and probably as far back as Toronto’s Official Plan in 2005. An archived draft of objections to the CWSP seems to point to some of LaFarge’s perennial concerns, including:

  1. Does the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan remain viable as a planning policy document if existing industries don’t relocate?
  2. Is the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan’s goal of creating a transportation system that gives priority to transit, walking and cycling compatible with the trucking, rail and industrial transport requirements of existing industrial uses?

LaFarge Canada is now represented in the Port Lands by Stan Makuch (Fogler Rubinoff), whose biography suggests an expert understanding of LaFarge’s options as it makes its case to be (a) allowed to stay, or (b) compensated generously to move.

Perhaps the city will buy back the land eventually: it could share the cost of rebuilding and moving LaFarge’s operations to the foot of the ship channel where LaFarge already holds a substantial lease. (In which case, all eyes should be on Build Toronto which holds the lease.)

In the long run, isn’t a compromise with LaFarge now better than a compromising a substantial part of the future city?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *