Revisiting the Riverwalk discussion

Cover photo credit: spacing.ca/toronto/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/05/IMG_1373-002-600×445.jpg 

Earlier, I wrote about the “Riverwalk” and my general sense of “Slogan fatigue.” I received a lot of feedback that tells me I didn’t convey my intended meaning very effectively.  I take ownership of that miscommunication. I did write it after all, who else would I blame? (KHAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!)

I’d like to clarify the point I was trying to make: It doesn’t matter what you build: if you have no idea how to use it once you have it, it’s going to be a failure. As I explored, we have riverwalks, and rather than “changing the game” they ARE the status quo (good ones too, I like them very much as it happens, but I digress).

So yes, I do believe that we need to DO SOMETHING with our existing riverwalks. And I believe that if we build this new Riverwalk with no plan to then capitalize on its existence for cultural and active living opportunities, it will just be another missed opportunity. Looking back, I didn’t explain that distinction, between building it and putting it to good use on one hand, and building it and ignoring it on the other.

Having said that, where I have previously overstated the case and implied that we shouldn’t be building the “Riverwalk” project itself, it’s important to understand that we do need to address a real problem in the Downtown Core.  The problem: flood risk.

Downtown Brampton is built in a flooding zone, and is governed by Special Policy Area documents that limit its growth and development. The area is constrained to manage floods and preserve natural habitats. However, it is possible to make changes to the current “concrete half pipe” we have now, and such a change will enable not only flood management, but will increase the amount of developable land in and around the Downtown. Followers of this blog know that I am a big proponent of developing the Downtown in “3 Dimensions” ie: north, south, east and west. And managing the flood plane would allow that very change.

How much land could we recapture once the Riverwalk is built? I don’t have official numbers, but I have heard a lot of numbers thrown around in the 1,000 to 3,000 range for new and additional residential units. That’s a large number of people who will get to live right on the Etobicoke Creek Trail, and that’s nothing but positive for the everyone. On top of the new residential units, of course, would come increased commercial space for office and retail use. While I hope we can come up with more than just “an outdoor mall” I am optimistic for the variety of opportunities the unlocked land will provide.

In the end, I don’t believe the “Riverwalk” is a “Game Changer” or a “Status Quo Disrupter” or a “Kobayashi Maru” for that matter.  But maybe I can live with it being a “Problem Solver.”

Ya.

So long as they talk to me about it like an adult, drop all the pie in the sky promises of instant urban gentrification, grandiose tales of parisian-style river cruises in the heart of downtown, and cut it out with the campaign/not-a-campaign-cause-that-would-be-illegal slogans, I can definitely live with it being a “Problem Solver.”  We solve the flooding problem, we open up possibilities to put the Etobicoke Creek Trail system to better use, giving developers room to build in the Downtown (in all 3 Dimensions), and we can really start to implement the ideas we have explored on this site about improved pedestrian and bike friendly infrastructure, indoor farmer’s market, maybe a new Memorial Arena for the Excelsiors and the Beast, etc. After all #MayorJackson2018 is all about problem solving. #NoThatsNotASlogan

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