York Quay Neighbourhood Association covers Toronto’s iconic Central Waterfront, with members in every building. YQNA is actively engaged in what shapes our neighbourhood – traffic, transit, planning, cultural and social events, policing, environment, noise, businesses, and the great urban renewal transforming Queens Quay. YQNA welcomes all residents to participate, share their ideas and enjoy our events.
After Waterfront Toronto heard what people want in two new parks on Queens Quay, they held an international design competition for York Park and Rees Park. Five winning teams were selected for each, now on display in great detail at yorkreesparkdesign.ca, and also exhibited in the Rotunda at City Hall. Everybody is invited to comment in a survey and pick their favourite designs. Deadline for participating is July 17. The designers were asked to name their park projects, but the official naming is expected after construction starts in 2019.
The two parks are very different in nature. The two-acre York Park will be a green retreat with a water feature, tall trees, art, seating areas, an event space, and possible repurposing of the contentious concrete pillars (bents) that held up the former traffic ramp. Here is an image of “Gardiner Green” from PLANT Architects in Toronto and Mandaworks from Stockholm.
The site for Rees Park is 2.3 acres and currently a parking lot. A vibrant park with year-around activities will fill this gap in Queens Quay by including a pavillion, market activities, an open lawn, art and space for dogs. Snohetta from Norway designed “The Nest” for the competition. They also included a unique integration with Lake Shore Boulevard by providing a bike path under the Gardiner Expressway.
The election in May brought significant changes to the Waterfront, among them Chris Glover as our new member of Provincial Parliament. He was among the candidates who presented their platform at the spring YQNA meeting, and was swept into office on an NDP wave that covered the entire downtown. Chris went from school trustee to MPP for the Spadina-Fort York riding. He lives in a Waterfront condo, and as a former teacher who just received his PhD, he is keenly aware of the need for more schools in our densely populated area, where children are a growing part of the demographics.
Chris sees his role in the opposition party to Doug Ford’s majority PC government as the conscience and watchdog of Parliament. He met with YQNA’s Planning Committee on a beautiful summer day to hear our concerns for the Central Waterfront and proved to be a good listener. His agenda is very similar to ours: more transit and expanded LRT on Queens Quay, affordable housing, more protective measures for condo owners and renters, better help for the disabled and finding employment for them. We look forward to working with Chris and hope to see him as our frequent guest in YQNA.
YQNA is changing boundaries. We are moving along Queens Quay to the west, to reach from Yonge St. to Spadina Ave. (no longer Rees St.) At the same time we are pulling back on the north side, from the train tracks down to Lake Shore Blvd. and Harbour St., hoping the new condo buildings north of us will establish their own neighbourhood associations. We were encouraged to also move further east where developments are happening quickly all the way to the Port Lands, but we don’t have the capacity to get involved in the details of it. We are hoping the future residents on Queens Quay East will organize and get involved.
The change was up for a vote at a packed meeting at the Radisson Admiral Hotel. A name change of YQNA was also on the agenda — from York Quay to Queens Quay Neighbourhood Association (QQNA). It would reflect our location on the Waterfront and carry the name of Toronto’s most prominent boulevard, but our members felt YQNA is so well established that a name change could have a negative effect, so it was voted down. (Click to see our updated Constitution with new boundaries.)
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.
— 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.