7 News Archive
Officials Boycott Public Hearing
By Vern Burnett
Seven News, May 29, 1970

At Town Hall in the St. Lawrence Centre, on May the sixth, the public discussion on the Waterfront, organized by the Citizens’ Forum, drew an overflow crowd of critically concerned citizens.

Conspicuously absent from the panel was Mr. J. Ramsey, from the Province of Ontario Department of Trade and Development.

Referring to the empty chair, Jeremy Carver in his opening remarks, said, “Mr. Ramsey accepted my invitation to be a member of the panel two weeks ago. It took some persuasion, but on the understanding that we would not be asking for the details of the Harbour City concept (which he claimed was not ready), but would confine ourselves to the more general question of whether there should be a Harbour City at all, he agreed to participate. I sent him a confirming letter.

Last Friday, he had a subordinate phone me to say he was going to be in Ottawa tonight and therefore could not participate.

When I attempted to phone him he would not speak to me or return my call.

I then sent a telegram to Mr. Randall asking that Mr.Ramsey attend, warning that there would be a prominent empty chair. I had no conversations with Mr. Randall.”

During the meeting it was announced that Mr.Ramsey was in the building: he was asked to come to the platform. He left the Town Hall immediately, but not before the “7 News” photographer got a picture of him talking to Margaret Campbell.

One wonders, since this waterfront development is supposed to be built on reclaimed land, why this seeming evasion of public discussion. Is it good for Toronto? Why not let the public in on the ground floor?

Mr. Wronski, Chief Planner, Metropolitan Planning Board, asked the hundreds of citizens attending the meeting, where they were in the years 1911-12; why they hadn’t said or done something the to stop the ugliness that developed on the waterfront.

A citizen, informed Mr.Wronski that the majority of those present at the meeting were either too young at that time or had not been born yet. They were at this discussion to ensure that present plans for the Waterfront would not cause ugliness for future generations. Judging from the applause, those attending agreed.

Most people came to the Waterfront discussion hoping it would be frank. Most left the meeting feeling that though questions were asked adequate answers were not given.

The overall plan for the Waterfront was little discussed or questioned, partly due to the fact there was no representative from the Province on the panel.

The possibility of an airport offshore, which would greatly affect the whole east end of the city, drew a large delegation from the Beaches, making the airport issue the focal point of the meeting.

No discussion was held on the impact the Waterfront Plan might have on present neighbourhoods. According to the City of Toronto Planning Board map 5, Official Plan Part 1, the biggest impact could very well be in the area between Parliament and Coxwell Avenues.

On the assumption that anything good can bear the ‘light-of-day’ this meeting should be the fore-runner of more meaningful meetings of the public with officials who can and will, feed us the facts.

This article was published in Seven News, Volume 1, Number 1, May 29, 1970

Related Topics: Toronto/Island AirportToronto Waterfront