200 Queens Quay West Redux

New design for 200 Queens Quay West, at Harbour St. and Lower Simcoe St. Image: Diamondcorp.

What a difference a year can make!

On January 12, 2021, the City held a (virtual) community consultation meeting about this project. At that time the 8 storey parking garage, with frontage on Harbour and Lower Simcoe Streets, was going to be demolished and replaced by a 12 storey podium on much the same footprint, topped by two residential condominium towers of 41 and 71 storeys. Vehicular access was to be taken from the existing driveways serving the Waterclub complex.

Now we are learning that the developers, Diamondcorp and Lifetime Developments, have responded to input from City staff, the Waterfront Design Review Panel, and the community, to come up with a revised proposal.

As the rendering (right) shows, the idea now is for one tower towards the east end of the site. The height is 59 storeys on a 5 storey podium, yielding 1002 units and 400 sq m of commercial space close to Lower Simcoe Street. 10% of the units are still to be affordable. The green space at the intersection of Lower Simcoe and Harbour Streets is increased slightly to 500 sq m and is now intended to be a public park rather than publicly-accessible private land.

The access for parking, loading and drop-off is to be from Harbour Street. They are planning for 340 parking spots on 4 levels underground, 150 for the residents and 190 for paying customers. Parking and storage is proposed for 1003 bicycles.

A second community information meeting is to be held on February 9, 2022 starting at 7 pm via Webex. Watch this space for registration details or we will mail them out to members. More details of the proposal can be found through this link.

An Open Invitation from YQNA

A beautiful winter view of Lake Ontario at our front door. Photo by Jack Gilbert

YQNA has a lot more going on than appears at our open meetings, which usually attract 150 people on Zoom. Members and guest speakers cover as many subjects as possible in two hours. But between our public meetings every two months, ideas and problems crop up and need our attention. Just a handful of people do this work. More are joining, but more are needed, and you are invited to share this exciting work with us.

What will new members in our Planning Committee find? Naturally they will gain new insights into planning, traffic, tourism, policing, lake levels, ecology, pollution, parks, boating and much more. We read proposals from developers and the City, interact with politicians and people in charge of roads and transit, and jump on urgent problems. It is rewarding to see how many important Waterfront developments we have influenced in very positive ways, often in collaboration with other civic groups. Our active members meet on Zoom in these pandemic times.

If you are new to YQNA and wonder what is going on behind the scenes, take a look at this website. By reading a few Minutes of the Meetings in the Documents section, or our letters to agencies who shape our neighbourhood, you might find something that spurs your interest. Do consider contributing your ideas and time, and jump onboard by writing to info@yqna.ca. YQNA attracts residents who want to ensure that our neighbourhood remains the most desirable anywhere. It is an extra bonus that our volunteers always have a good time together.

Is YQNA Political?

The Simcoe WaveDeck on Queens Quay West. Photo: Waterfront Toronto

This is a good time to make YQNA’s role clear as the neighbourhood association of the Central Waterfront. Since we began in 2003, we have had the same mandate — to give voice to people who live and work here, so they can engage in the fast-moving developments. Everybody is welcome. 

YQNA has worked with over 40 organizations, such as City departments, Waterfront Toronto, Harbourfront Centre, developers, ecologists, planners, architects, law firms, businesses, and we entered successful protests and lawsuits to protect the Waterfront. 

As a public and impartial service, YQNA has hosted many all-candidates meetings over the years to help residents cast their vote. After election, we have worked closely with local politicians from all levels of government, because they are essential for us to achieve our goals. Information flows between us. The municipal, provincial and federal politicians attend all YQNA’s public meetings to answer questions and report on developments. Yes, we appreciate them as our allies regardless of their political stripe.

Ergo, the answer to the headline is NO. 

YQNA Court Victory Against Cabana Pool Bar

A packed dance party at the Cabana Pool Bar by the Eastern Gap. (Screen capture from the Bar’s video)

By Ed Hore

YQNA recently won a legal victory against the Cabana Pool Bar in the Ontario Divisional Court. The effect is that the outdoor nightclub won’t be authorized to make more amplified noise than it’s already making.

The nightclub owners already had a liquor licence that allowed thousands of people outside at Cabana Pool Bar, and to have amplified music until 11 pm on weekends. They applied for a new licence that they hoped would allow them to have a lot more people and make more noise for longer hours.

The Toronto Islanders, City Council and YQNA objected. I represented YQNA pro bono.

Ed Hore is a keen outdoorsman who knows both the law and the lake. 

After a 17-day hearing in 2017, the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) granted the nightclub a new licence, but with a condition that prohibited amplified music outside.  It found Islanders had been disturbed by loud music, and that the nightclub’s efforts to control noise had been casual and ineffective. The new licence was worse than the old one from the point of view of the nightclub.

On appeal, the Ontario Divisional Court upheld the Licence Appeal Tribunal in a lengthy decision released on June 14, 2021.

The Court dismissed the City’s cross-appeal which argued that the nightclub owners couldn’t apply for a new liquor licence because they already had one for the same premises through a related corporation. Nothing in the wording of the statute prevented the second licence application, said the Court.

The odd result is that the nightclub’s owners can, it seems, pick and choose which liquor license they like better: they’ll still probably stick with the old one because it allows amplified music outside.

But at least the recent decision prevents the nightclub from getting the licence it wanted. The loud music problem may not get better, but at least won’t get worse.

Both the nightclub and the City need permission to appeal. We don’t know yet if either will try.

Edward Hore is a lawyer, former chair of YQNA and founding chair of Waterfront for All.

Park or Planes?

Imagine New Yorkers being asked if they want a city airport instead of Central Park. The answer would surely be no. Recently citizens in Chicago, Berlin, Edmonton and Santa Monica were facing that question – a small airport or a big park – and they all favoured parks over airports.

Now Toronto is facing the same question. We are critically short of parks and recreation, especially downtown. Losing the Rail Deck Park would make it worse. The Island Airport is stagnant and looking for investors, hoping to resume commercial flights. Its lease to use this publicly-owned land runs out in 12 years.

It is time to review Port Toronto’s industrial use of 215 acres of valuable land on our Waterfront. Does a city airport fit into Toronto, the fastest growing city in North America? Is it even needed, now that we have a 25-minute ride with UP Express from Union Station to Pearson Airport? Will a great recreational space by the lake serve future generations best and become an urban treasure like Central Park?

YQNA wanted to learn more about the options and invited Brian Iler of CommunityAir as our guest speaker. Feel free to share his illustrated presentation from our May meeting.