Waterfront revamp must stick to schedule, Rob Ford says

Mayoral candidate Rob Ford says the biggest challenge regarding Toronto’s waterfront revitalization will be meeting the deadline for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Toronto’s waterfront district will play host to the 2015 Pan Am Games, and Ford says it’s a project that can’t afford to be off schedule.

Local residents and curious citizens gathered at Harbourfront Centre Monday afternoon for the mayoral debate discussing Toronto’s Waterfront. Ford expressed concern in the completion of the waterfront revitalization project, using the Bloor Street renovation delays as an example of timelines gone wrong.

“We cannot say, ‘Uh oh, we’ve got cranes here and we have holes in the ground and next month everybody is coming.’ Whatever project we undertake, we have to make sure it is done,” he said. “That is worrisome to me because it seems like everything we touch is never on time and never on budget.”

Ford says if elected he’ll monitor the Pan Am project on a weekly basis to ensure it is done efficiently and on time, otherwise it simply won’t happen.

“We are not going to just start ramming things in to meet the 2015 Pan Am Games,” he said. “If we can’t do it, we are not going to do it because we aren’t going to be embarrassed and have big holes in the ground and cranes here if we can’t. I can guarantee you that.”

Fellow candidate George Smitherman echoed the sentiments with his determination in making the outcome successful.

Smitherman said the 2015 Pan Am Games will be a great opportunity for Toronto to get a “bounce back in its step.” If elected, Smitherman said he will continue to make the revitalization project a priority and ensure that it gets done. He also plans to build the Queens Quay East light rail transit (LRT) within the same time frame.

“It is one of those signature pieces that we as Torontonians will be able to celebrate in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games,” Smitherman said.

But candidate Rocco Rossi said it’s possible to go even further — establish a goal of building the Queens Quay East LRT and completing the revitalization of Ontario Place where the CNE would be combined before 2015.

“There is an enormous opportunity with respect to Ontario Place and the CNE,” Rossi said. “I think there is an opportunity again to have a critical piece that together with what’s happening with Pan Am and connecting it together with Queens Quay, will really add to this place being the jewel to the crown.”