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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Toronto simmers in anti-development animosity

There is an undercurrent to Toronto these days, and it's not a happy one. The city has been in a development boom over the last ten years that shows no sign of slowing. Looking out my window (as I've shared with you before in this blog), there are no fewer than ten construction cranes, marking the creation of new high-rises for residents and business. And this reflects just one view from just one part of the city. There are over 130 such developments going on city-wide.

The animosity that is developing in the city has to do with what citizens see as unchecked growth. Developers and business seem to get their way here, no matter what the citizens have to say about it. Currently there are a couple high-profile proposals that have the public on edge. One is the expansion of the Billy Bishop (Island) airport. Porter Airlines wants to be able to fly small jets out of the facility, which sits in the Toronto harbour, a short distance from the lake shore. The expansion of the runway to facilitate these jets would impact boaters' ability to navigate, and the noise would impact everyone.

There are thousands of residential condominiums at the lake shore - and all of them would have to deal with the noise that would begin with construction and never end with an increasing number of jet flights in and out of the airport.

The other construction related issue in this neighbourhood is the slow pace at which renovations are being made to a huge stretch of Lakeshore Blvd. This infrastructure project seems to be happening part-time at best, while impacting residents and commuters who use this key city street.

I have only described two of over 100 major development and infrastructure projects going on in the city right now. Residents are upset with unchecked growth, with construction that never ends, and with the city seemingly ignoring the impact of these projects on anything but the tax base.

Whether anything will slow the train of progress is hard to say. Political will at the municipal level seems almost non-existent. But that's life today in Canada's largest city.  

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