Queens Quay Streetcars Going East

This TTC image shows the proposed streetcar route on Queens Quay East, and the lake fill expanding green space at the Yonge Street slip.

Major changes are planned to continue streetcars along Queens Quay east of Yonge Street all the way to the Port Lands. YQNA, a stakeholder in the planning process, was recently invited to participate in a virtual meeting hosted by City Planning, Waterfront Toronto and TTC staff. A presentation of the proposed plans was followed by a Q&A. YQNA will announce an information session for the wider public to follow later this year. 

Expecting a large population growth in the Waterfront area, City Council approved the upgrading of the tunnel from Union Station to Queens Quay last year. The plans will also include a larger platform at Union Station, enhancement of the Queens Quay station, and a new tunnel heading east under Queens Quay. TTC is in charge of the underground work and has awarded a design contract to Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions.

The surface tracks on Queens Quay East will be designed by the City and Waterfront Toronto. The previous 2010 Environmental Assessment (EA) study dealt with a shorter streetcar line ending at Parliament Street. The EA must now be updated for a longer transit service ending at Cherry Street.

A key issue in this multi-year construction project is the location of the tunnel portal. In 2010, it was recommended to bring the line to the surface around Freeland Street. A large sewer outfall at the foot of Yonge Street has since been identified, and to run the tunnel beneath it would add many millions of dollars. The cheaper solution would be to build a shorter tunnel with the portal just west of Yonge Street.

The streetcar track and the proposed portal would be located on the south side of Queens Quay, which would block the access driveways to the ferry docks and the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, and also remove the existing taxi and bus parking areas. The suggested solution is to fill in part of the Yonge Street Slip and create a new link to the ferry laneway and the hotel driveway. The new landfill could also hold the taxis and some tour buses (see illustration).

The new streetscape would build on the design of Queens Quay West, with improvements to the cycle path and the tree planting beds. Wave decks or other features may be added to the slips along the way at Jarvis and Parliament, for example. 

Key concerns about the portal location and design were raised by YQNA and others, particularly representatives of 10 Queens Quay West, who questioned their access to drop-off and theparking garage in their buildings. YQNA felt that the portal would create a dead zone on the street between Bay and Yonge, as well as adding another unsightly feature to Queens Quay like the portal between York and Bay streets.

Several people asked about co-ordination with other work in the area, such as the future redevelopment of 11 Bay (the Westin conference centre), the Toronto Star site and the Ferry Docks.

Other questions showed worries about closing the streetcar and bus service and road closures during a lengthy construction period that is so far unknown. TTC did not pinpoint the method of building the tunnel, but an open cut is most likely and would be most disruptive.

The line along QQE could be built first, along with the portal and an east-west tunnel. That would enable through service on Queens Quay while the rest of the tunnel to Union is completed. 

So far there is only partial funding for this phase of the project. Land owners along the route such as Redpath Sugar still have to be consulted. Staff are looking at a report to Council at the end of 2020 to seek approval of the design so far, and further funding to 100% design, which would take 12 to 18 months. Actual construction of the on-street section could take 3 years, and the underground works perhaps longer. 

Conclusion: we are a long way from streetcar service on Queens Quay East.

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

New Trees on Queens Quay

(Photos: Neal Colgrass)

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.

Winning Parks on Queens Quay

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.

 

Love Park

(replacing the circular off-ramp from the Gardiner)

Love Park, looking south from Harbour Street. (Image by Claude Cormier + Associés)
Love Park, looking south from Harbour Street. (Image by Claude Cormier + Associés)

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.

 

Rees Ridge

Rees Ridge will help to hide the Gardiner Expressway from the south. (Image by wHY and Brook Mcllroy)
Rees Ridge will help to hide the Gardiner Expressway from the south. (Image by wHY and Brook Mcllroy)

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.

New Boundaries for YQNA

Photo: Hendrik Hart
Photo: Hendrik Hart

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.)