Toronto council has endorsed a letter from Mayor Rob Ford to the provincial government, asking that the lands surrounding the Ontario Food Terminal and Mr. Christie’s Bakery be identified as provincially significant employment lands.
Ford wrote the letter so as to prevent the owners of the bakery, Mondelez Canada, from redeveloping the bakery with condominiums. Earlier this fall, Mondelez announced that it would be laying off 550 workers there.
Ford’s letter points not to just those jobs: but the nearby Ontario Food Terminal in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore ward.
“The lakeshore site has the potential to employ a lot of people,” said Ford. “It could be in the hundreds, could possibly be in the thousands. Together with the nearby Ontario Food Terminal, thousands of jobs are directly affected by the future of these lands. Tens of thousands of jobs right across Ontario are indirectly or directly connected to these lands. Folks – I ask you. We’ve got to keep these lands for employment purposes.”
In a letter, Ontario Food Terminal Board Chair James Reaume made it clear that the food terminal – the largest of its kind in the country – is a key piece of infrastructure for the $39-billion farming and food sector in the province.
“The conversion of these two proposed employment lands to sensitive residential uses in and around the Ontario Food Terminal will greatly diminish its role within the city and the province,” he wrote. “It will reduce employment opportunities; and it will reduce the economic value inherent within this facility.”
Etobioke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn said that mixing in residential with the busy food terminal would be a recipe for disaster.
“There is no more important point of entry for good food access in the city than the Ontario Food Terminal,” he said. “Just as Christies, or Kraft, or Mondelez warned us for years do not place too much intensification around us because it will push us out – well that day has come. Now you have the food terminal saying the same things: do not create conditions that will impede the flow of traffic into our site, do not create a situation where there will be complaints about truck traffic through the night, or a person who doesn’t like the look of cabbages or salads out their window. We have to take a strong position on employment lands: we’re not going to support this kind of application.”
If the province designates the lands a provincially significant employment area, it would prevent the rezoning of any of the land at 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. W. to residential.