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John Campbell talks the future of the Waterfront

Sherbourne Commons.

A lot of people will soon be inhabiting the Waterfront, all ultimately gathered in an area that has, traditionally, been more or less unserved by transit, given its largely industrial heritage, making the roll-out of transit options, from mass transit to bicycle access to roads for cars, of paramount importance in the coming years.

On March 25, Waterfront CEO John Campbell and First Gulf CEO David Gerofsky had a conversation about the Waterfront's future and its present city-building initiatives under the moderation of Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure. The title of the discussion was "Connecting the Dots: Waterfront Roads, Rail and Redevelopment."

Both CEOs have played a role in creating entire neighbourhoods (First Gulf is responsible for redeveloping the former Lever Brothers lands), making them both familiar with the obstacles and opportunities specific to this rarefied form of city-building.

"Developing an entire neighbourhood requires a big vision and a well-thought out fully integrated plan," Campbell told Yonge Street after the event. "In order to create a vital and inclusive neigbourhood you need to ensure that there is a complimentary mix of residences, commercial and retail space, and public spaces. Having a well-thought out plan ensures that you avoid having uses that don’t fit and need to be fixed or adjusted afterwards. You also have to ensure that you have the necessary infrastructure in place to support the needs of the community – now and in the future. 
"Waterfront Toronto’s approach has always been strategic revitalization as opposed to simple real estate development. We take an integrated planning and design approach that looks not just at buildings but at all the things that make great cities, such as street networks that link to the rest of the city and scale that fosters a good sense of community, walkability and balancing all modes of transportation. We also emphasize parks and public spaces, and we design in a way that’s environmentally and economically sustainable."

Campbell listed public cynicism, limited resources, global competition and complexity as the main challenges behind creating communities from whoe cloth.

Though the benefits are at least as redoubtable. Campbell said that the $1.26 billion that has been invested in the Waterfront is generating $3.2 billion of economic output, $622 million in government revenues, and 16,200 years worth of full-time employment.

Included in this is $2.6 billion of development, which he helpfully spelled out for the audience. Bayside Development is worth $910 million, the PanAm/ParaPan athletes’ village $814 million, River City $383 million, Monde condos $276 million, Toronto Community Housing $95 million, and George Brown College’s Health Sciences campus $85 million.

In addition to that, Campbell claimed there were 44 recent or planned developments on privately owned land adjacent to Waterfront lands that is capitalizing on Waterfront infrastructure to the tune of $9.6 billion.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: John Campbell
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