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 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!
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.)
John Campbell is stepping down after 12 years as CEO of Waterfront Toronto (WT). He has navigated many beautiful projects through choppy waters on the Waterfront, and has prepared for new developments as far as the Port Lands. John’s tremendous business skills and diplomacy made him a perfect leader of what is North America’s largest urban renewal project. His popularity reached into the Waterfront communities, where he engaged residents and businesses in the planning of parks, streets, WaveDecks, Queens Quay redesign, boardwalks and new buildings in precinct plans. Our ideas were welcomed, as we soaked up lots of knowledge during hundreds of hours in committees and public and private meetings.
YQNA decided to throw a farewell party for John on a warm September evening on the pool deck of the Radisson Admiral Hotel overlooking the lake. Five other neighbourhood associations joined as hosts – from Gooderham Warts, West Don Lands, St. Lawrence, Toronto Islands and Bathurst Quay – as well as the Waterfront BIA. A large crowd of residents, business owners, planners, civil servants, politicians, architects and developers paid tribute to John.
Among the gifts was a new song, “T.O. the Waterfront,” created by local artists Michael Colgrass and Anna Prodanou. It was dedicated to John and performed by the WBIA’s Singing Ambassadors. Hear the song with Waterfront clips on YouTube. Another gift from residents was a one-of-a-kind book of images, collected from many sources to capture the Waterfront transformation under John’s tenure. The party was a heartfelt send-off for a person who is well-liked and will remain in Toronto’s history as an important city builder. The new CEO of WT was not yet announced at this writing.
Jen Chan, assistant to City Councillor Adam Vaughan, has been our friend and unwavering connection to City Hall for more than seven years. She had close connections to the Waterfront long before working with Adam, so we consider her part of the neighbourhood. Over the years, we have relied on Jen to give us the right information about the explosion of developments and challenges in our neighbourhood, and we listened to her discreet advice on what YQNA could do for best results at City Hall. She was invaluable and much liked by all.
Hal Beck, YQNA member and our expert on matters related to the Island Airport (BBTCA), was recently given a citizens award by MPP Rosario Marchese. Our member of provincial parliament said, “I was proud to recognize 58 wonderful Trinity-Spadina volunteers at my second annual Community Appreciation Event.” Hal is an engineer and project analyst. He applies his outstanding skills with great perseverance and represents YQNA in the airport’s liaison committees. Readers can sample his work in Hal Beck – Health Study – Island Airport 2013-10-16, which points out the need for further health studies around the airport. We have learned a great deal from Hal and congratulate him for receiving this award.