YQNA Meets in Cyberspace

Angelo Bertolas chairs the meeting from his home office.

YQNA answered an urgent need to meet with Waterfront residents in a Zoom meeting on May 12 (see the draft minutes here). Co-chairs Angelo Bertolas and Carolyn Johnson managed a packed agenda and large crowd in our first cyberspace adventure. No need to remind anybody how much our lives have changed with the pandemic. A number of speakers told us about the restraints we face this summer, with the Waterfront reduced to a nature retreat from the usual cultural centre with millions of visitors. This will last until we recover. Still City Councillor Joe Cressy was concerned about too many people flocking here too close together. Both he and MPP Chris Glover and MP Adam Vaughan worried about people who are affected by the weakened economy. They hope to move the homeless from tents along the Waterfront into permanent housing with government help. They pointed out other needs for government funding for food and income security, small businesses, childcare centres, affordable housing, TTC, the airline industry and so many more.

Harbourfront Centre has cancelled all events. Tour boats might resume sailing in July, reported Mariposa. Meanwhile, kayaks, canoes and private boats are plying the lake. Some uplifting news came from Bryan Bowen of the Waterfront Secretariat. He explained elaborate plans for the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood, now under construction. Lynn Robinson of the Toronto Island Community Association reported that water levels in Lake Ontario have peaked, so flooding is probably avoided this year, but efforts continue to find permanent safety for our vibrant waterfront communities. Also good news from Enbridge Gas, which needs to install pipelines here from east to west: it will not be on Queens Quay, but on Lake Shore Boulevard. We thank everybody who reacted to YQNA’s request to keep Queens Quay intact.

This meeting attracted a good crowd and a prominent line of speakers, so we are planning another Zoom event in the middle of July. Look for the invitation!

Are We Ready for Flood 2020?

A packed Toronto Flood Forum, held by the Toronto Island Community Association (TICA) and YQNA took place in the Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre on March 3, 2020. Many experts on the subject and speakers from three levels of government gave much needed information to anxious residents, who came from the Waterfront at large.

Current high water levels in Lake Ontario point to the strong possibility of flooding this spring, a repeat of 2017 and 2019. The Islands and the city of Toronto face serious risks to property and infrastructure, should lake levels go even higher than before. Flooding would affect residences, condo basements and hydro, combined storm sewers backing up, vital roadways, the extensive park system, major redevelopment, the Billy Bishop airport, water treatment plants, Waterfront businesses, boating clubs and our health.

City Councillor Joe Cressy, MPP Chris Glover and our MP Adam Vaughan agreed that better preparations and new plans to stem flooding were needed. So far, flood mapping and flood planning are in process, as well as mitigation projects for Waterfront parks.

Councillor Cressy pointed out that the old 2014 flooding plans were already outdated in 2014. “We need a complete rethink,” he said. He also pointed out the necessity of having at least one GTA member on The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board that controls outflows from Lake Ontario.

A video of the event, with additional footage, can be found at the United Shorelines Ontario Facebook page.

Lynn Robinson
Member of TICA

YQNA: No Pipeline Dig on Queens Quay

The central Waterfront became Toronto’s foremost recreational area when Queens Quay West was redesigned in 2015. Millions of visitors enjoy the beauty and vibrant cultural life, and it is a favourite place to live.

Now Enbridge Gas is proposing to dig up Queens Quay to install a 4.5 kilometre gas pipeline from Cherry Street in the east to Bathurst Street in the west. The company invited the public to an open house on January 23 to show people three potential routes to dig open trenches, hoping to start in spring of 2021. One is Lake Shore Boulevard, another detours along Harbour Street, and finally Enbridge’s first choice: Queens Quay, digging up the bike lanes with damage to sidewalks, trees and more.

As a reminder of what we paid $130 million for five years ago, take a look:

York Quay Neighbourhood Association (YQNA) strongly objects to digging up Queens Quay, our award-winning promenade on the Waterfront. It would have a crushing effect on the area, which is home to over 70,000 and serves tourists and the GTA at large. Not only would millions of tax-payer dollars be squandered, but Harbourfront Centre, tour boats, businesses and condo towers would all suffer. Instead we recommend using Harbour Street, which would affect far fewer businesses and people and is still being developed.

Please speak up now if this concerns you, and spread the word.
Email Enbridge Gas though Dillon Consulting Ltd.: NPS20Replacement@dillon.ca
Copy City Councillor Joe Cressy at councillor_cressy@toronto.ca and info@yqna.ca

High Water Levels Threaten Waterfront

                                                                                                                    Photo: braziliandanny/imgur

There’s too much water in the Great Lakes—and with Lake Ontario being the lowest in elevation, it receives so much from the others that it has flooded coastlines and developments. It is challenging to restrict the flow of water from rivers, rain and spring run-off, but Lake Ontario levels have been successfully regulated in the past by the Moses-Saunders dam at Cornwall.

The Toronto Islands and numerous downtown buildings in Toronto have suffered millions of dollars in damage from flooding, especially in 2017 and 2019. Experts are concerned that unprecedented water levels are part of climate change and not a seasonal or passing problem. If so, more attention and new solutions are needed urgently, because an additional foot of water in the spring could top the already high levels at our doorstep. To learn more, YQNA put flooding first on the agenda in the November 19, 2019 meeting.

If lake levels can be controlled, who is in charge? Canada and America negotiated the Boundary Waters Treaty act in 1909, and the International Joint Commission (IJC) was established with three representatives from each country looking after this precious freshwater resource. In 1956, the IJC approved building of the Moses-Saunders Dam and the St. Lawrence Seaway, and release of water through the dam regulated water levels successfully for decades. Later, lobbying from various interest groups led to a new IJC plan for regulating water levels. It was implemented in 2017, and maximum levels gradually rose to a record high of 75.92 m, four feet above the average lake level.

From the detailed information that YQNA has gathered, it seems that IJC urgently needs to get ahead of next year’s forecast. YQNA has appealed for action from IJC and other parties with an active role and has informed major parties who would suffer financial losses in case of widespread flooding. Join the action by forwarding our letter to Councillor Joe Cressy (councillor_cressy@toronto.ca) and Mayor John Tory (mayor_tory@toronto.ca) and others on our list of recipients.