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.
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.)