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Wendell FOX

$334M to be given to waterfront

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Waterfront gets $334M

Agency can start work on projects first dreamed of in 2001

Revitalization plan calls for new neighbourhoods along lake

KERRY GILLESPIE

CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

After months of running on the verge of bankruptcy, the corporation responsible for turning Toronto's waterfront into something spectacular finally has the money to do it.

The Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp.'s board of directors was cheerfully told yesterday it now has $334 million to spend. "It means we can get going on things, we can get under way," chief executive John Campbell said.

The money comes from the city, Queen's Park and Ottawa, and will be spent on specific projects over the next five years. It's a down payment on the $1.5 billion promised when the corporation was created in 2001.

Among the projects the new money is intended to fund:

$170 million: Extending Front St. to Dufferin, so people can drive in and out of downtown without using the Gardiner Expressway.

$58 million: Improvements to Union Station and adding a second TTC platform.

$3 million: Environmental assessments for naturalizing the mouth of the Don River.

$60.7 million: Remediation of industrial property in the port lands so housing and parks can eventually be built there.

$12.5 million: Putting in a boardwalk along Harbourfront Centre and turning a parking lot into a waterfront plaza.

$16 million: Building a waterfront park at Port Union Rd. that will serve as a trail link between Highland Creek and Rouge Beach.

$6.5 million: Creating Mimico Park to link Etobicoke's Superior Park with two other small parks, creating new beaches and extending a waterfront trail.

$7.06 million: Planning for new neighbourhoods and parks along the waterfront.

$200,000: Feasibility study for a dragon boat rowing course.

"Governments, thank you very much," chair Robert Fung said yesterday after the board heard the financial presentation.

That's not a line Fung has been able to use in a while.

The corporation was created by all three levels of government to transform 46 kilometres of derelict lakefront into vibrant neighbourhoods full of homes, jobs, transit and parks.

It was promised $1.5 billion in government money to get the work going.

But up until now, only $58 million made it into the corporation's bank account.

Rather than turn the money over to the corporation in a lump sum, the governments have insisted on approving each project individually, a process that led to endless delays.

In March, things got so bad and the waterfront corporation so broke, it wasn't paying contractors for the work they were doing, said it would have to close its offices and was days away from declaring bankruptcy.

The crisis was blamed on Ottawa not paying its third.

The federal government delivered a cheque for $5.5 million just a week before the corporation would have closed its doors.

The rest was tied up by squabbles over the Front St. extension. The estimated cost of the project has escalated from $170 million to more than $255 million.

The federal government has said it won't pay more than its one-third share of the original estimate.

The waterfront corporation and the city say the estimate was always low and, because of changes the public wanted to the road's design, wasn't realistic.

The city refused to sign a document agreeing to the $170 million price tag, which held up agreements for the rest of the $334 million.

The city has now signed and broken the logjam, but it won't use the $170 million right away.

"We want to figure out what the actual price is before we move forward," Campbell said.

Until that happens, and governments agree to pay, no work will be done on the road, he added.

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone said he isn't concerned about the fate of the Front St. extension, which the city wants built.

Pantalone said he's confident that the federal government will eventually agree on the price.

The rest of the $334 million will flow as the corporation is ready to spend it.

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This is good news. Especially looking forward to the $16 million being spent at the end of Port Union Rd. since that is around where I live.

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