View from the Bath Sreet land that LMCC plan to develop with a 4-6 storey residential apartment block.
THE TORONTO FORESHORE PROTECTION GROUP WELCOMES YOU
The Toronto Foreshore Protection Group (TFPG) is working to preserve Toronto's public foreshore land as park for a growing population - why?
In April 2018, Lake Macquarie City Council approved the development of a 4-6 storey Residential and Tourist complex on land owned by Council (substitute Ratepayers) adjoining the Toronto Foreshore - Bath Street.
In September 2019 - as a result of an unprecedented community backlash, Lake Macquarie City Council withdrew the proposal and through a number of rescission motions, approved actions to incorporate the land into the Toronto Foreshore Master Plan and reclassify the land from Operational to Community, which is what the community wanted.
Since September 2019 - Council have dragged their feet with respect to implementing the rescission motions - a complete reversal of form when compared with the speed they went about starting the development in April 2018. The TPFG are focused on making sure the Council acts in accordance with the September 2019 rescission motions and keeping the community updated and involved in the development of the Toronto waterfront - including the Bath Street land, as parkland for all the community.
STATE OF PLAY: Toronto Foreshore and Bath Street
The following correspondence between the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group and LMCC sets out the current understanding of LMCC staff of the role and status of community engagement on this matter:
Howard Dick/Nico Marcar to Laura Kendall, LMCC Director, Organisational Services
Wed. 8 April 2020, 3:30 PM
RE: Implementation of 23 September 2019 Council resolution on Toronto Foreshore Masterplan and reclassification of Bath Street site
Dear Laura (cc. Mayor, CEO),
When we met with you and the Mayor on 11 March to discuss this matter, you emphasised that Council officers were implementing Council’s resolution of 23September not to proceed with the mixed-use development on the Bath Street site and instead to incorporate the site within the Foreshore Masterplan and reclassify it as community parkland.
You will recall that we challenged you as to why the Sustainability Policy review included the option of a commercial development (as agreed by Council in April 2018 but ruled out on 23 September 2019).
You argued that it would be necessary to demonstrate to the incoming Council after the September 2020 local government elections that all options had been thoroughly reviewed.
Now that the local government elections have been deferred until September 2021 (some 17 months away) we ask, on behalf of the community, that this position be urgently reconsidered.
Specifically, we ask that the commercial development option be deleted from the Sustainability Review, and that this review be expedited to allow the draft Masterplan to be brought forward promptly for community comment.
Otherwise the community is likely draw the conclusion that Council officers are not implementing, let alone expediting, Council’s resolution but in fact obstructing and unnecessarily delaying Council’s efforts to respond to strongly—and repeatedly — expressed community expectations.
We would appreciate reassurance on this matter and some specific details as to the timeline and process for completion of and community comment on the Foreshore Masterplan.
While these are difficult times, we are observing in recent weeks that the community’s need for exercise, fresh air and waterfront recreation is more than ever demonstrating the need for an improved Foreshore parkland.
The community is looking to Council for leadership, not procrastination.
Howard Dick, Nico Marcar
Laura Kendall, LMCC Director, Organisational Services to Howard Dick/Nico Marcar
Thurs. 9 April 2020, 11:41 AM [underlining below by HD]
Good morning, Howard and Nico. Thank you for your email yesterday.
Ensuring a comprehensive review of future uses for Council’s land at 4 Bath Street and 1b Victory Row, in accordance with Council’s Sustainability Policy, is important, regardless of the timing of the next local government elections. When we met on 11 March, I did not mean to imply the scope of the review is somehow linked to the timing of council elections. It is not. I apologise if you left the meeting with any other impression.
It remains my view that any future decisions by Lake Macquarie City’s elected Council about the aforementioned land should be informed by comprehensive analysis. Council’s September 2019 resolution clearly requires a review to be undertaken based on Council’s Sustainability Policy. It would not be appropriate for me, or any other Council officer, to exclude specific options from the sustainability review based on political unpopularity.
That said, I reiterate the assurance I gave on 11 March that Council staff are not “obstructing” or “unnecessarily delaying” implementation of Council’s resolution of 23 September 2019. I can confirm Council staff (and consultants) are working diligently, and without undue delay, to implement Council’s resolution from September 2019 regarding land at Toronto Foreshore. It is a complex resolution, with six parts that need to be implemented in a logical sequence. To do otherwise would likely create further uncertainty in the community in the medium and long term, and involve inefficient use of public resources.
I further reiterate that Council staff pursue the highest standards of integrity regarding our role in supporting decision-making by the elected Council. Our interests are in providing high quality information and professional analysis to support Council’s decision-making processes. We also take very seriously our duty to implement Council’s decisions promptly, without bias or undue influence by other interests. Our work on Toronto Foreshore is guided by these principles, just like any other work we perform as Council officers.
From our conversations this year, it is apparent this does not align with your perceptions of some of the staff working on the Toronto Foreshore Project. I absolutely respect your right to form and express your own opinions, and to seek to influence the decisions of the Council elected to govern the City on your behalf. However, I respectfully advise the references to “a delaying tactic” and “procrastination” used in your recent correspondence are neither based in fact, nor conducive to constructive dialogue.
You requested specific information on the timeline for completion of, and community input to, the Toronto Foreshore Master Plan. This information is currently available on the Toronto Foreshore’s Shape Lake Mac page.
You would recall my advice on 11 March about Council officers’ intent to invite community members to an event in late March to discuss progress and next steps regarding Toronto Foreshore. You would also be aware the event scheduled for 25 March was cancelled, in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Australian and NSW Governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council staff are currently working to create an alternative opportunity to engage with the community about this topic. Our preference is to engage in person, however, as you would appreciate, this is very difficult due to current physical distancing requirements. We expect to be able to post an update on upcoming community engagement on Shape Lake Mac in the coming week.
As you might expect, responding to frequently changing circumstances related to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is currently demanding a lot of time and effort from me and many other Council staff. Our focus at this time is on adapting Council’s services, programs, projects and activities to provide as much normality for the Lake Macquarie community as possible, while protecting the health and safety of community members and our people. I know how strongly you both feel about the future of foreshore land in Toronto, so am happy to provide the foregoing response. However, I trust you understand I will not be able to engage in further lengthy correspondence about this project over the coming days and weeks, and I thank you for your patience with this.
Director Organisational Services
Howard Dick to Laura Kendall, LMCC Director, Organisational Services
Thursday 9 April 2020, 5:23 PM
Thank you for your prompt reply.
We do appreciate, if not fully, the difficulties that Council now faces in changing the way that it carries out its many tasks and that this poses enormous challenges.
At the same time, we remain concerned that with consultants engaged in formulating a Foreshore Masterplan that it remains a high priority.
And while we are accept under the terms of the Council resolution that a Sustainability Review proceed in parallel with the Masterplan process, we and the community also remain concerned that it not subvert Council's intent to complete an integrated Masterplan that aligns with community expectations for improved recreational space on the Foreshore.
In times not long ago Council officers could have carried out a Sustainability Review promptly and efficiently without need to hire in another set of external consultants.
Thoroughness is to be applauded, but what we are trying to address, and I thank you for engaging with us, is not only the future of the iconic Toronto Foreshore but also the community's trust in Council and Councillors to put community needs ahead of commercial considerations.
Until the Masterplanners bring forward their recommendations/options, the community is left in limbo. Since we are now two years into a rather tortured process, the community has an understandable desire to see some results over the next few months.
For now I wish you some quiet time over Easter and look forward to finding out how we will be engaging with the Masterplan consultants in our new Covid-19 world.