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.
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.
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.
(replacing the circular off-ramp from the Gardiner)
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.
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.
The Licence Appeal Board last week released its decision in the dispute about a new liquor licence at Rebel nightclub and its outdoor patio Cabana Pool Bar. It’s mostly a win for local residents and the Islanders. I represented YQNA.
The nightclub already has a liquor licence allowing a lot of people and amplified music outside on the patio until 11 pm Thursday through Saturday nights. It sought a new liquor license allowing a lot more people inside and outside (the application was originally for 15,000 people altogether), and longer hours and fewer restrictions on amplified music outdoors. Residents objected mainly to the amplified music and the huge numbers. The nightclub would then totally dominate the harbour and eastern waterfront.
At the 17-day hearing, the nightclub pared back its request for more patrons somewhat. The evidence was mostly about music disturbances on the Island. The upshot was mostly good news: the Tribunal ruled no amplified music on the patio at all (a big change from before), no increase in numbers on the patio, but some increase in the number of patrons inside was allowed.
An article in the Toronto Star (Aug. 26, 2018) is focused on police concerns about safety around the club, which leaves large crowds late at night in an area that is without transit.
Weirdly, the nightclub still has the old licence; it seems it can choose between the one it already has and the new one ordered by the Tribunal, which had no jurisdiction to set aside the old licence. The wording of the statute, the Liquor Licence Act, leaves something to be desired.
The nightclub has appealed to the Divisional Court.
Former co-chair and solicitor for YQNA
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.