New Noise By-law for Toronto


City Council adopted a new Noise By-law with amendments at the April 16 and 17 meeting, 2019.

YQNA has been involved with the by-law review since its inception in 2015. Countless hours have been spent in meetings of the Working Group, in deputing at Committees, and in trying to understand the complexities of sound, how it travels and how it is measured. YQNA joined forces with the Toronto Noise Coalition (TNC), which has members from across the City.

The new by-law is quite short. It has some useful definitions, and regulates 8 kinds of noise, from amplified sound to animals to leaf blowers. It has introduced the use of approved noise meters to be used by MLS staff in checking on sound levels using both the dB(A) and dB(C) scales. While the sound level limits are now more reasonable, the measurement depends on Leq, which is a kind of averaging or smoothing, over a ten minute period, which does not work at all for music. Amplified sound is to be measured at a “point of reception” outdoors or indoors, while noise from a motorcycle is to be measured 50 cm from the tailpipe. Other kinds of noise are just prohibited during certain times, generally from 7 pm to 7 am on week nights and before 9 am on weekends and holidays. Government work, which includes work by the TTC, the Province, the Federal Government and the City, is exempt from the by-law.

The current (old) noise by-law begins with a General Prohibition, which states “No person shall make, cause or permit noise or vibration, at any time, which is likely to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the inhabitants of the City.”

This is removed. It is replaced by “No person shall make, cause or permit noise, at any time, that is unreasonable noise and persistent noise”, where the underlined noises are defined terms. This sounds fine until we read the second part, which states that this provision does not apply to any of the 8 kinds of sound which are dealt with elsewhere in the by-law. Vibration is no longer mentioned, and is only captured somewhat by the dB(C) measurements for amplified sound. This means that activities such as construction or leaf blowing can be noisy during the work day.

The members of TNC are understandably disappointed that after so much work their comments, concerns and suggestions seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The loss of the General Prohibition is of particular concern, because this rule has been used successfully in the past to prosecute noisy clubs and tour boats. A small victory has been the lowering of the dB thresholds from the levels staff had started out with in 2016, but the requirement for by-law officers to actually take measurements at your home is unworkable. By the time they can attend, unless the noise source is a regular, predictable event like a Saturday night dance, the party or concert will long be over.

Share Your Views on Ontario Place

Ontario Place is a critical part of our City. Earlier in January, the Provincial Government’s plans for Ontario Place became clearer. Tourism Minister Michael Tibollo announced a process that will turn almost all of Ontario Place over to the private sector. The Provincial process puts at risk the Cinesphere, the recently completed Trillium Park, and the pods.

To ensure our City and residents have a say, our Councillor Joe Cressy moved a successful motion to establish a special City of Toronto Ontario Place sub-committee. This subcommittee reports to Toronto and East York Community Council. Members of the public are welcome to submit communications, and register to speak their views publicly.

The first meeting of the Subcommittee of Ontario Place will be on Tuesday March 5th at 5:30pm, City Hall, Committee Room 1. We are encouraging people to attend and share their views. The Subcommittee will also consider a detailed report from City staff on the history and status of Ontario Place, and more.

To register to speak on March 5th, please email teycc@toronto.ca. See more about the meeting here.

New Trees on Queens Quay

(Photos: Neal Colgrass)

YQNA has followed the fate of trees that were planted on Queens Quay by Waterfront Toronto (WT) three years ago. Of the 227 young trees, most had died or failed to thrive due to harsh weather conditions, vandalism, salt, fungus, watering problems, or they were simply the wrong type of tree for the challenging weather conditions on the Waterfront. 

Residents had been worried about this decline for a long time. Wayne Christian and Carolyn Johnson of YQNA were among them, so they conducted a visual survey of dead, missing, sick and healthy trees, which was sent to WT along with our request to replace the trees. It was no simple matter to analyze this tree situation—which species can thrive, how to protect the trees etc.—but Netami Stuart of WT spoke at our Fall meeting about the large undertaking of replacing 154 trees with new species. That happened in late October, 2018. WT will issue a brochure about taking care of our new trees, and YQNA will help distribute the knowledge to businesses and condo boards. We hope a great tree canopy will define Queens Quay in the future.

Winning Parks on Queens Quay

Waterfront Toronto recently announced the winning designs for two Queens Quay West parks to be built at York Street and Rees Street. Design competitions for the parks were held during the summer, with the public voting for five finalists for each park. YQNA took part in a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), and co-chair Angelo Bertolas met with the final jury.

 

Love Park

(replacing the circular off-ramp from the Gardiner)

Love Park, looking south from Harbour Street. (Image by Claude Cormier + Associés)
Love Park, looking south from Harbour Street. (Image by Claude Cormier + Associés)

The winning design at York Street is Love Park, named and designed by Claude Cormier + Associés of Montreal. It features a heart-shaped reflecting pond with a small island for the large maple tree that will be preserved. The pond is shallow and drainable for events such as markets, or it could be a skating rink in the winter. On the southeast side is a sheltering pavilion with open arches and a coffee stand, washrooms and plenty of seating. Many benches will be placed throughout the park, and dogs will have a special space in the northeast corner.

Love Park was the preferred design of the SAC, because it eliminated the concrete bents (pillars from the old off-ramp). It uses the two-acre site well and has open sightlines, which encourages pedestrian flow and connects the city to the Waterfront. The stainless-steel pavilion with reflecting surfaces could become an iconic feature, just as Cormier’s pink umbrellas made his Sugar Beach design famous and his dog fountain at Berczy Park on Front Street a landmark.

Construction of Love Park, with a budget of $7 million, is scheduled to start in 2019.

 

Rees Ridge

Rees Ridge will help to hide the Gardiner Expressway from the south. (Image by wHY and Brook Mcllroy)
Rees Ridge will help to hide the Gardiner Expressway from the south. (Image by wHY and Brook Mcllroy)

The winning design for the park at Rees Street is Rees Ridge, designed by wHY Architecture of New York and Los Angeles and Brook Mcllroy of Toronto. The design was inspired by the Scarborough Bluffs. It features slopes, ramps, stairs, slides, swings and hills, and an observation deck with views of both the lake and the city. A waterfall is featured next to the cafe, which also provides a community room and washrooms. The significant elevation of the park will hide the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard when viewed from the Lake. This design also offers summertime tiered seating for events, as well as potential winter toboggan runs.

The SAC found this design the most adventurous and grand. It will undoubtedly draw people to new and exciting views of the downtown and the Waterfront from the observatory atop the pavilion. It is a priority that the observatory be accessible to everybody, and that the pedestrian tunnels to Lake Shore Boulevard are safe, as they exit directly onto the Martin Goodman Bike Trail.

Rees Ridge is the first Toronto project by wHY, while Brook McIlroy has been designing landscaped environments for years across Canada and is currently working on Regent Park. Construction of Rees Ridge, with a budget of $10 million, is targeted to start in 2020.