Farewell to Pam McConnell

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.

Joe Cressy: Our New Man in Council

Joe Cressy, our new Councillor for the Central Waterfront (Ward 20 – Trinity Spadina), will stand out as young and progressive in a City Council of mostly older colleagues. He has big shoes to fill, taking over the seat of the incisive Adam Vaughan, who is now our MP. Joe won by a wide margin and was endorsed by many prominent Torontonians, including Councillor Pam McConnell in Ward 28. We expect Pam and Joe will work well together on Waterfront issues.

Joe says: “Everywhere you look, politicians seem to be lowering the bar, promising tax cuts and belt-tightening instead of building our city up.” He is ready to invest in affordable housing, public transit, childcare, clean air to breathe and water to drink. “The economic case for investment is clear: the longer you delay infrastructure repairs, and transit modernization and expansion, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to catch up in the future,” he says.

Cressy, who sits in Council as an independent, finds taxing, spending, and regulating are the core functions of government, no matter who holds office. “The difference lies in how you prioritize spending,” he says.

The Waterfront is close to Joe’s heart. He describes our neighbourhood as home to thousands of residents, millions of annual visitors, beautiful blue flag beaches and unique recreational facilities that draw Torontonians from the entire GTA.

A jet airport does not belong on the Waterfront, according to Joe.  “Waterfront revitalization is a priority for our city and is not compatible with jets or expansion of the Island Airport.”

YQNA welcomes Joe Cressy and looks forward to working with him.

Councillor Adam Vaughan Leaves

Adam Vaughan enjoys the trust and support of residents in the Trinity-Spadina riding, which gave him the lead at the Liberal Party’s nomination meeting held in Toronto, May 3rd, 2014. He looked relaxed, surrounded by constituents and his two children, Salvador and Mimi before the vote.
Adam Vaughan enjoys the trust and support of residents in the Trinity-Spadina riding, which gave him the lead at the Liberal Party’s nomination meeting held in Toronto, May 3rd, 2014. He looked relaxed, surrounded by constituents and his two children, Salvador and Mimi before the vote.

Adam Vaughan, our high-profile city councillor for the past eight years, will soon leave City Hall. He made the decision after tumultuous sessions in Council under the current mayor.  Adam’s encyclopedic knowledge of city issues and passion for urban planning has now put him on a federal track as the Liberal candidate for the Trinity-Spadina riding.

His departure is a big loss to our Waterfront neighbourhood. No doubt City Council will miss his insight and fiery repartee that often turned debates around 180 degrees. The ongoing fight against the proposed jet expansion of Island Airport showed Adam at his best. He understands the wheels that can turn Toronto into a great city — the urban planning issues, public transit, the arts, heritage and preservation, and he has always been a defender of the most vulnerable citizens. High priorities for him are affordable housing and quality of life for families in this multicultural city.

YQNA thanks Adam for his guidance and willingness to work with us. He has always supported the great Waterfront revitalization that is ongoing under the auspices of Waterfront Toronto. He is advocating new legislation that will give the city’s planning department much needed controls over future developments here. We are not likely to get another councillor with Adam’s unique dedication, intensity and skills. We wish him the very best and expect his positive influence on our lives will continue.

Serious Setback for Jets

Transport Canada oversees all airports in Canada. No airport or airline can override their federal safety regulations. To see what Billy Bishop would look like as a jet airport, Transport Action Ontario superimposed the federal rules for extended runways, jet-blast zones, safety zones and marine exclusion zones. Only exemptions could change that picture.
Transport Canada oversees all airports in Canada. No airport or airline can override their federal safety regulations. To see what Billy Bishop would look like as a jet airport, Transport Action Ontario superimposed the federal rules for extended runways, jet-blast zones, safety zones and marine exclusion zones. Only exemptions could change that picture.

City Council spent all of April 1, 2014 grappling with Porter’s request to include jets on the Island Airport. Would the Waterfront be dominated by a jet airport with extended runways blocking sailing and future developments? Despite a costly advertising campaign by Porter, a privately owned company, the bid for fast approval suffered serious jet lag when Council voted to defer the expansion pending extensive studies until 2015 or later. The grassroots group NoJetsTO had good reason to celebrate.

Councillor Pam McConnell reported: “Council did not approve Island Airport expansion or the introduction of jets… The reports presented to City Council were never an endorsement of airport expansion or the operation of jets on the Island Airport. Rather, the studies highlighted many unresolved problems and contain numerous conditions before City Council should even contemplate amending the Tripartite Agreement.”

YQNA and many other citizens groups have worked tirelessly to educate people about this issue, which comes down to: Save our Waterfront! It belongs to all of Toronto, as NoJetsTO showed with 13,000 city-wide signatures on their petition. It is remarkable that Robert Deluce’s request could get so far before brakes were applied. This jet airport has no master plan, no environmental assessment, no business plan, no infrastructure plans, no certified jets, and no application for this airport has even been received by Transport Canada, which oversees all Canadian airports.

With so little information coming from Mr. Deluce and his landlord, the Toronto Port Authority, an impressive illustrated document from Transport Action Ontario fills a void. Their aeronautical experts applied all of Transport Canada’s safety regulations to the proposed jet airport; only exemptions could change this picture of the inner harbour. It shows extended runways, jet-blast zones, safety zones and marine exclusion zones. [See complete report here.]

As councillor Peter Milczyn said: “A larger airport on the lake is not the City’s or the people of Toronto’s vision for our Waterfront.”

Jen Chan Goes to Queens Park

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.

Now Jen has taken a new job as Senior Associate at the Ontario Growth Secretariat and will be working with municipalities in the GTA on development plans and Greenbelt protection. We are very happy for her big career move to Provincial Government, though sad to see her leave as our Waterfront liaison to Adam. YQNA held a festive send-off for Jen on February 17 in the Radisson’s beautiful “View” party room facing the lake. The big turnout included YQNA, BQNA, GWNA, TICA, Jen’s City Hall colleagues and NoJetsTO. Here is Jen with a picture of the Waterfront as her farewell gift from YQNA, and below with Marcia Boyd, a fan of Jen since she started working with YQNA.