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article imageFight to save Fort York Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridge Special

By KJ Mullins     May 9, 2011 in World
Toronto - Back in 1793 when Fort York in Toronto came into being there would have been no need of a Fort York Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridge to the waterfront. The fort at that time guarded the entrance of the bay of Lake Ontario.
Today the landscape has changed and the proposed bridge is the scene of a city battle.
The news is that the Fort York Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridge has been the latest cut in Toronto. With a hefty price tag the city council had the project shut down. That plan was a score for Mayor Rob Ford who wanted the project shut down when he was a councillor.
The bridge was to open in time for the War of 1812 bicentennial. Supporters say it's a key renewal project for the waterfront. The S shaped bridge would have allowed pedestrians and cyclists a safe way from the city down to the waterfront but with a price tag of $23 million Councillor David Shiner wanted a cheaper alternative or to scrap the project completely.
CTV quotes Shiner:
"You want to connect the people there, but at what cost? I have a lot of concern that we're so financially tight -- just think about what that $23 million could do for bridge rehab, for road repair; think of the community centres it could fix up, of the children's services and child care centres it could provide," Shiner said.
Supporters aren't ready to give up. Tonight at 15 Stafford Street the Mobilize. Meeting. Save The Fort York Pedestrian Cycle Bridge will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Losing the bridge would have increased the tax base of the neighbourhoods in the area by raising their property values. More importantly it would have impacted on the quality of life of local residents and local businesses.
The proposed bridge would have been an important landmark for the waterfront community bringing citizens of Toronto to the area as well as increasing tourists to both Fort York and the waterfront.
During a phone interview Councillor Adam Vaughan said that yes is the hardest word in politics.
"No is the easiest word in politics. It is easy to be critical when it comes to finding the money for new projects," Councillor Vaughan said diplomatically, "Yes is the hardest word. We have to get more yeses into the city. Yes to beautifying, yes to needed progress, yes to more projects."
Vaughan said that those in favor of the bridge will have their work cut out for them in convincing the city that the need is there.
"It's extremely disappointing that the city has nixed the bridge for the time being. The bridge would open up access using city owned property for so many. It is also a safety aspect that would eliminate dangerous crossing areas of two busy city streets, Strachan and Bathurst."
Vaughan did not deny that the project is expensive but said that the expensive is not insurmountable.
"It makes sense to get on with this project. At this time though there are folks around Mayor Ford that like to say no. Our civic leaders need to start saying yes!"
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