Monday, June 17, 2013

St. Lawrence Market North redevelopment fight heats up

TORONTO - Get ready for a fight over the St. Lawrence Market North project at city council.

Councillor Doug Ford vowed Monday that he’ll to try to stop the $91-million redevelopment — up from the original $74.8-million price tag — next month.

“I will fight it at council,” Ford said.

Councillors on the government management committee voted 3-3 against stopping the project and were also deadlocked on whether to move ahead with the initiative.

The project update now goes on to city council without any recommendation.

The new building is slated to replace the existing one located on the north side of Front St. E. — across from the St. Lawrence Market.

City officials say it would house consolidated court services — which are presently in three different buildings — and offer a “significant improvement to a city landmark and tourist destination.”

Part of the jump in the proposed budget was attributed to a 250-space underground parking garage set to be built on the site.

“We’re going out and we’re spending (a) disproportionate amount of money downtown all the time,” Ford said after the vote.

He questioned why the city would spend “$100 million on courthouses? For what? We don’t need $100-million courthouses when I can’t even afford to put a park up in Etobicoke.

“(In) Etobicoke North we get crumbs, people out in Scarborough get crumbs.”

Ford lamented his belief that downtown councillors get millions in Section 37 money from developments.

“Distribute the money equally to all the boroughs not just downtown all the time,” he said.

Councillor Pam McConnell, whose ward includes the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, argued the city could end up saving money on the building — and likely “make money at the end of it.”

My community asked ‘What are we going to do with a 1967 building that no longer functions?’” McConnell said.

She stressed the project was already approved at the original price by council.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti blasted the “magical” project.

“I think we need to stop the bleeding,” Mammoliti said, before urging the committee to direct staff to take no further action on the project.

“This is bleeding, this has cut into a city artery … and we need to stop it now.”
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