Ever since Rob Ford took the lead in the polls for the mayor's chair, many Torontonians began to worry about the fate of several initiatives that the City was pushing forward under David Miller, and when Ford won, many were convinced that all of those initiatives were dead. Now, a couple of months later, we have a proposed 2011 budget, and it seems that not all is lost. Today we'll get a quick reminder of three of the projects that appear to have been saved from the chopping block. The highest profile of all the Public Space projects underway at the City is the revitalization of the City's front yard, Nathan Phillips Square. Even with the advanced state of demolition, there was concern that the new plan by Plant Architect in association with Shore Tilbe Perkins + Will would be scaled back significantly. The budget, however, earmarks $25,105,000 to complete the plan. That figure remains unchanged from what was approved last year, but now comes with some concerns that not all aspects of the plan are completable within that budget. Will some aspects of the restaurant or the tourist information booth be reduced or eliminated? We will be watching throughout the year!
2010 saw a rare international design competition take place in Toronto, one which awarded the building of a new city landmark to a team made up of Pritzker Prize winning firm Rogers Stirk Harbour and local heavyweights the Adamson Associates. The project is the Saint Lawrence Market North redevelopment, which will include new public market space at grade, an underground parking lot, and four levels of Provincial traffic courts up top. $73,890,000 remains in the budget for this project which will replace the relatively unloved concrete bunker that currently functions as the north market at Front and Jarvis Streets. With the project proceeding, the Saint Lawrence Market area promises to go from being a loved area of the city, to an absolutely unmissable one.
Rogers Stirk Harbour/Adamson Associates, meanwhile saw another design competition, this time for a feature of the city that has been chronically under-appreciated. Fort York is likely the most nationally important site in Toronto, while at the same time being routinely overlooked. A critical piece of the city's military history, the Fort is soon to be the focus of bicentennial commemorations of the War of 1812. Vancouver-based Patkau Architects in association with Toronto-based Kearns Mancini created a stunning Visitor Centre which will run alongside the columns of the elevated Gardiner Expressway, a building which will both turn the forgotten space under the Gardiner into an asset, while giving the historic fort itself a more honoured place, finally featuring it within the modern city that now surrounds it. $8,420,000 is allocated in the City's budget to push this project forward in 2011. Money for the $23 Million dollar project is also coming from Section 37 funds provided by condominium developers in the area, $5 Million from the federal government, and an expected $5 from the provincial government. The Fort York Foundation is also targeting a fundraising goal of $4 Million.
UrbanToronto is thrilled that these three projects, and others we will cover in future articles, seem to be on track. It is certain that all of these will be major additions to the vitality and livability of this city we love. Three cheers!