Farewell to Pam McConnell

Our city councillor Pam McConnell has died much too early at age 71, a great loss to us and the city. She was our defender and ally since YQNA started in 2003 and became a friend to many of us. Pam was easy to approach, and her office was always open to hear our concerns — if not by her then by her senior advisor Tom Davidson, our steady contact person. Pam was busy in her large Ward 28 and as deputy mayor,  but once we had her attention on Waterfront issues, she focused with tremendous energy and could out-talk anyone​. Her ability to wrap up complex issues and see through a bureaucratic haze is clear in this video from City Council. The passion and logic that flowed from her left-of-centre conscience was aimed at building the city, defeating poverty and promoting equality. YQNA joins thousands in sending condolences to her family. Here is a collage of photos of Pam visiting YQNA and taking part in our neighbourhood events over the years.

Removal of Gardiner Ramps

— as seen and photographed by a Waterfront resident

Last Saturday was quiet at the ramp removal site. Just the background hum of traffic and the City, plus the beeping of the huge cherry-pickers as the workmen cut the steel beams off their bearings in a shower of sparks.

Most weekdays are different, when a hoe-ram – which I call the Great Beast – uses its single mechanical tooth to break up the concrete and asphalt roadway on the doomed ramp off the Gardiner to York, Bay and Yonge. Its work is done up to the west edge of Simcoe Street. Next to go will be the ramp that leads to Bay Street and the one that circles down to York Street and Queens Quay, where a lovely park will be created.

It all began 12 years ago, when some YQNA members asked the City if all these ramps were really needed. Fast forward to 2008 when the City finally began to review that very idea, and decided that they could be removed if a new ramp was built to Simcoe Street instead, and if Harbour Street was improved. More recently, Councillor McConnell found money to get the project going. So on April 17, 2017 at 5 am the ramp was closed forever and the demolition began.

This is what I see from my windows: first, the Great Beast cuts off the parapet; then it destroys the deck, pushing the rubble down between the beams. Surprisingly delicately, it cleans the beams of concrete and cuts off the smaller steel ties between them. This is VERY LOUD. All the metal is going to be recycled, I assume.

Next, the beam crew comes along and cuts the beams off the pillars. Other workers clear up the concrete rubble and ensure that dust is kept down and the public kept safe. A huge magnet collects up the small pieces of steel and drops them into a dumpster.

This urban renewal project will be completed in January, 2018, when the new down-ramp to Simcoe will open to traffic. Meanwhile many residents will live with the noise and traffic congestion. Fortunately, we are well trained from the recent three years of redesigning Queens Quay. Here is more information about how the ramp removal will affect us now and in the future.

Sail Ahoy

The Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario (DSAO) helps the disabled get out on Toronto Harbour in specially-designed sailboats all summer. It’s a great charity in the middle of YQNA’s neighbourhood. Come visit DSAO at the Harbourfront slip at Queens Quay and Rees Street.

There are lots of programs for both adults and kids. They are run by students, and supported by lots of enthusiastic volunteers, many from our neighbourhood.

Thanks to the generous support of donors and sponsors, the cost to a disabled person is only $15 per sail, plus a $50/yr membership.

But paying the staff and maintaining the boats costs money! The DSAO is grateful for any contribution. You can make a secure online donation to DSAO through CanadaHelps.org. A tax receipt will be issued to you from the Canada Helps website.

The DSAO also needs volunteers. You don’t have to know how to sail; the association needs helpers on land too. To find out how you can help, please visit DisabledSailingOntario.com.

Say NO to the World’s Biggest Nightclub

Noise travels fast and wide on the Waterfront from the club site. (Photo: Jim Panou)
Noise travels fast and wide on the Waterfront from the club site. (Photo: Jim Panou)

YQNA is at the center of a city-wide protest against a Waterfront nightclub that would be the largest in the world with a capacity of more than 15,000 people. That is if the Powerhouse Corporation is granted a liquor license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Lengthy upcoming hearings at the AGCO Tribunal start February 9 and are open to the public.

Powerhouse Corporation’s Licence Appeal Hearing starts February 9, 2017 at 9:30 am in the Tribunal’s Offices in Toronto at 20 Dundas St. W., 5th floor. Hearings will continue if necessary on February 10, 13 and 14 and March 20, 21, 30 and 31, 2017.

The co-chair of YQNA, Edward Hore, is working pro bono as our lawyer and is submitting written protests to this outsized club — from city councillors, neighbourhood associations, condo boards, Waterfront developers and businesses. Residents on the Islands near the site are represented by lawyer Robert Tanner. Ken Greenberg, prominent urban designer of the Port Lands, says this monster club is the biggest threat to the Waterfront so far, exceeding others that residents fought off, such as a jet airport, casinos, box retail stores and a Ferris Wheel.

This club application — which would top the world’s largest nightclub in Spain for 10,000 people — almost went unnoticed by the public. The club is currently called Rebel and is where the former Docks club lost its liquor license years ago in a similar imbroglio with the public. When YQNA learned the application details through councillor Pam McConnell from club owner Charles Khaboult of the Powerhouse Corporation, we started a successful campaign to engage the media. CBC TV and Radio gave extensive coverage as did The Globe and Mail. People were shocked at this news, to say the least. This mega-club would put Waterfront renewal plans for the Port Lands at risk and cause serious social, traffic and noise issues.

The enormous scale of this nightclub is not just a local Waterfront issue. It concerns millions of people who use the Waterfront as their “cottage country.” The Waterfront is also home to a growing mixed-use community that comprises North America’s largest urban renewal project under the auspices of Waterfront Toronto. To protect our precious Waterfront, you can sign this petition from the newly formed Waterfront For All  — and spread the word to your friends!

Waterfront for All

Lower Don Lands plans from Waterfront Toronto.
Lower Don Lands plans from Waterfront Toronto.

YQNA is among the founding members of the new umbrella organization Waterfront for All. The proposed naturalization and flood-proofing of the Don River mouth was the focus at the launch of Waterfront for All on Oct. 20, 2016. The flood protection will unlock 75 acres of natural habitat — wetlands, uplands and aquatic habitat — and protect 600 acres of land from flood risk.

“The revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront is not complete without a naturalized Don River mouth and the transformation of the Port Lands,” says Ed Hore, chair of Waterfront for All. “Waterfront Toronto, the leading agency, makes a compelling case for all three levels of government to finally move ahead with secure funding the Port Lands flood protection.”

The new umbrella organization is growing as groups from across Toronto are invited to join. Any individual or group can sign up on the website www.waterfrontforall.ca and get news about Toronto’s Waterfront, the largest urban renewal project in North America. Ideas and support from all over the city are needed to grow new neighbourhoods and public spaces from Etobicoke to Scarborough.

Waterfront Toronto (WT) successfully leads the revitalization, winning many international awards for completed projects. Queens Quay on the Central Waterfront, for example, is a huge attraction for residents of the GTA and visitors. CEO of WT, Will Fleissig says: “Everyone in Toronto has two neighbourhoods, their own and the Waterfront.” Another good reason to be part of Waterfront for All!