Waterfront agency low on cash, wants additional $1.65 billion
TORONTO – After spending nearly $1.5 billion, the agency in charge of redeveloping Toronto’s waterfront wants more money to finish the work.
Waterfront Toronto will be in a “cash shortfall position” by 2017 according to a new report for the city. The agency is asking for another $1.65 billion in investment, financed with new loans and short-term debt, to fund phase 2 of redevelopment.
“We get one shot at this we’ve got to do it right,” Waterfront CEO John Campbell said.
The agency has delivered flashy redevelopment projects thus far including the Queens Quay wave decks, Sugar Beach and the East Bayfront redevelopment. But the group has come under fire from city councillors who question how well the agency spends its money.
“They’ve got some pretty rich salaries and they’ve got spin machines that taxpayers are paying for,” Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said. “They want the city to co-sign their credit card, I’d be very reluctant to do that.”
There are 25 staff at the agency earning more than $100,000 per year, including CEO John Campbell, who earned $350,355.12, according to provincial public sector salary disclosure for 2013.
“We have to compete with both the public and private sector,” Campbell said, adding the agency has frozen salaries at executive levels for five years.
Despite those concerns, Waterfront Toronto points to the investment they’ve been able to attract to a once neglected part of the city. The agency says it has attracted $2.6 billion in new investment to the East Bayfront and West Don Lands and generated an additional $838 million in direct revenues to all three levels of government.
The next phase, known as “Waterfront 2.0” includes a long-awaited East Bayfront Light Rail line along Queen’s Quay east, and flood protection for the portlands and lower don lands. Financing will have to come from all three levels of government, with the majority of the cost tied to transit and flood proofing.