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Fords want control of Port Lands redevelopment

A battle between the province, federal government and the city may be brewing over the future of the massive, waterfront revitalization project underway in the Port Lands.

Mayor Rob Ford and his councillor brother Doug don’t think work at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway, south of the Gardiner Expressway, is progressing fast enough.

Waterfront Toronto, an agency funded by all three levels of government, is in charge of the project and it plans to transform the area into “one of the world’s great, large urban waterfront parks.” The project is linked to several other redevelopment plans along the lake shore, including the West Don Lands and central waterfront.

The $625 million undertaking, mostly funded by the federal and provincial governments, has been years in the making and is part of a 25-year effort to revitalize the area near the mouth of the Don.

The Fords have a very different vision. The brothers would like to see a large and high-end shopping mall, a luxury boat-in hotel, a monorail service that serves the lake shore, a sports complex and a giant Ferris wheel. The two claim they could complete their vision with private sector funding in five to six years. A detailed plan is expected to be released soon.

A report released Friday by City Manager Joe Panachetti suggests the city should take control of its Port Lands properties. The city's executive committee will vote on that proposal next week.

Waterfront Toronto needs to put necessary flood-control measures in place as work progresses at the mouth of the river. Funding for that work has not yet been secured.

CityNews.ca’s call to Waterfront Toronto wasn’t immediately returned.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said the federal government’s role in the project is winding down because the majority of the $500 million Ottawa invested has already been spent.

The province remains committed to the original plan.

Shawne McKeown, CityNews.ca

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