There are times, as I rue the slow pace of progress in Hamilton and Toronto, that I feel like taking matters into my own hands.
"Let's buy the bloody Lister Block ourselves!" I've thought from time to time, or "Let's get some paint and make King Street two-way!"
Taking matters into their own hands is exactly what a carpenter and an architect from Mississauga did last week. John Danahy, a University of Toronto professor of landscape architecture, and Jim Tovey a carpenter and leader of the Lakeview Ratepayers' Association, took a look at the blighted landscape around the old Lakeview coal-powered electric plant, just east of Port Credit, and decided to do something about it.
They drew up a plan.
Rather than complain, they've taken the offensive, using the power of Google Earth and complex mapping information, only recently available publicly, to come up with a unique, citizen-driven planning model they will unveil to Mississauga council on Wednesday.
Their goal is the creation of a "destination" landscape – which does not contain a power plant. If embraced by council and the province, the proposal would redraw one of the biggest pieces of waterfront left in the Greater Toronto Area – more than 200 hectares largely ignored by planners and government.
Their plan, laid out in the pages of the Star last week, incorporates two- and three-story apartments, mixed use housing, park space, and even a spot for an Aquarium.
Pretty good, but until last week at least, it was just a plan.
Then they presented it to council. Last Wednesday, John Danahy, Jim Tovey and rest of the Lakeview Ratepayers Association took their plan to the Mississuaga City Council and sought their approval.
They got it. The next day, the Star reported:
Mississauga council has unanimously endorsed a unique citizen-driven plan for the sprawling Lakeview lands that could transform the area around a former coal-fired power plant into a thriving $2 billion waterfront community.
Yesterday's vote was witnessed by hundreds of residents, who jammed council chambers and applauded repeatedly.
The council resolution calls on the province to ensure that a gas-powered plant won't replace the coal-powered one that once thrust four smokestacks high into the sky south of Lakeshore Rd. between Cawthra and Dixie Rds. The stacks came down in June 2006, the rest of the hulking plant a year later.
This, of course, is just the beginning. The province is toying with the idea of erecting a new power plant along the same shoreline and there is the small matter of wider public opinion to be considered. But they're on their way, and they've made it all happen themselves.
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