The York Quay Neighbourhood and its surrounding wards sit at the heart of the most active urban development in North America. The construction planned for the area over the next 10 years has no precedent. Anticipating large scale disruption to our neighbourhoods, the Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations, FoSTRA was created in 2021 to collectively advocate for good urban design.

FoSTRA currently supports YQNA and its neighbours in 24 south Toronto residents associations and four neighbouring wards. It is driven by a belief that neighbourhoods must be comprehensively planned at the street and block level. Development must go hand in hand with transportation and infrastructure investments, and unavoidable neighbourhood displacement and disruption requires thoughtful planning and close collaboration with residents. Networks of walkable public spaces, whether they be parks, open spaces or strategic tree plantings should be non-negotiable.

FoSTRA has established four key working groups focusing on intensification, affordable housing, parks and the environment. The association has submitted opinions to planners and politicians on close to 20 issues ranging from the Strong Mayors Act to co-ordinating construction scheduling to reducing the impacts on residents, employees, businesses and commuters. Participation in these working groups is open to all YQNA members.

If you are interested in helping to support neighbourhood associations in their advocacy for good urban design, or if you are interested in reading any of FoSTRA’s submissions, please go to

Written by Mary Hirst,
Vice-chair of FoSTRA and YQNA member

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Harbourfront Centre’s skating rink has been an iconic feature on the Waterfront for decades. Generations of skaters had their first steps on the ice here, and their memories of the beautiful setting by the lake remain strong. When Harbourfront Centre suddenly announced January 10 that the rink was closing for good, response was swift. A petition to restore this Waterfront gem got over a thousand signatures right away. Strong opinions followed on TV, newspapers and websites, pointing out that the rink had disappeared without public consultation.

Harbourfront Centre CEO Marah Braye said the board had made an irreversible decision and that equipment was ready to start demolition. The rink, which becomes a paddle pond in summer, could not be restored due to lack of funds, she explained. The Federal Government had recently donated $20 million for repairs on the ten-acre Harbourfront site, which includes the skating rink. But those repairs proved too costly, so it was scrapped. 

YQNA Chair Angelo Bertolas told CP24: “The skating rink is a wonderful place to spend some outdoor time getting exercise and fresh air along the water’s edge. The Waterfront desperately needs winter activation for the many condo dwellers, visitors and tourists.” Kevin Vuong, MP for the Waterfront, heard the outcry and called for a town hall meeting February 3rd. It took place in the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre and confirmed public anger over the demise of the ice rink. Plans to turn it into “a completely updated new plaza” for staging events met with scepticism, because Harbourfront already has several outdoor event spaces. Vuong had talked with a corporate donor who was open to supporting the skating rink, news that was warmly received.

Bertolas says, “Harbourfront Centre is a crucial component of Toronto’s Waterfront, which attracts millions of tourists to the city and is a gathering place for residents from the entire GTA.” YQNA is the voice of the community, so he is establishing a Community Liaison Committee with Harbourfront to keep open communication that will protect gems like the skating rink and other attractions that draw the broader public to the Waterfront.

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The Second City Toronto actors celebrate their new location at 1 York St. Photo: Arthur Mola

Second City fans, rejoice: Canada’s most storied comedy institution is now on the Waterfront at 1 York St. And its new facility is a shiny space with three bars, three stages, glimmering lights and food plates from Oliver & Bonacini — a far cry from their early days at The Old Fire Hall!

The massive 28,700-foot-venue also boasts a big bar area and nine studio spaces for adult/teen classes, which include acting, writing, improv for anxiety and improv for autism. Even online classes are available.

Find it all at or call (416) 343-0011 for tickets, which range from $29 to $101 for sketch/comedy shows.

“The old place had a thick smell of blood, sweat, tears, fear and joy,” quips Carly Heffernan, creative director of The Second City Toronto. “And the new smell is bright, shiny and exciting. It might be paint fumes. We did just open.”

Get a whiff of the excitement and kick off the new year with a laugh.

Second City fans are ready for a night of comedy. Photo: Arthur Mola
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Firefighters at the Queens Quay Station demonstrated the 22-storey reach of the ladder on the new Bronto Skylift truck. If it looks like it’s competing with the CN tower, it’s an optical illusion. Photo: Ed Hore

The Waterfront is newly built with more high-rises than any other part of Toronto. In all, this city has 2,500 high-rises and is second only to New York City in high-rise construction. That leaves a lot of vertical safety in the hands of Toronto Fire Services. The new Bronto Skylift firetruck with a 22-storey ladder is an important addition to their equipment. It is located at the fire station on 339 Queens Quay West due to our concentration of tall towers, and it will respond to emergency calls throughout the city. The cost of $2.9 million was covered by the City.

YQNA member Ed Hore visited the Queens Quay Station to see the impressive Bronto Skylift and took these photos. Not only is the 22-storey ladder twice the hight of existing ladders in the Fire Service’s equipment, but the master stream nozzle at the end of the platform is capable of flowing up to 3,800 litres of water per minute. Mayor John Tory said at the launch: “It is much more certain now that we can provide residents the kind of protection they need.”

The Bronto Skylift truck provides a very sturdy platform for the tall ladder and extra water pressure it adds to the range of Toronto Fire Services. Photo: Ed Hore 
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A fictional image of Therme’s glass structures with pools and palm trees, proposed at Ontario Place. No buildings are transparent. Public space is reduced to a sliver around the 10-acre site.

Toronto is the fastest growing city in North America and has a serious lack of green space. A revitalized Ontario Place is part of Waterfront developments that include parks and public spaces along the downtown lakeshore. It is now in serious danger of becoming a profit-driven destination at the invitation of Premier Doug Ford. What was intended as public space, could now require high-price tickets to enter a massive tropical spa proposed by the Austrian company Therme. It features 10 acres of palm trees and pools under glass. Entry is expected to be $40 plus extras for treatments and services.

The U.S. company Live Nation is contracted to run the upgraded open Budweiser Stage. Frequent concerts would block off a large area to the public that had not bought a high-priced ticket. A third development party, Ecorecreo of Montreal, has apparently dropped out of the Ontario Place bidding. The details of the provincial government’s negotiations to commercialize Ontario Place are not available, since they were made behind closed doors and without public consultation. They were never mentioned in the run-up to the provincial election.

The future of this precious Waterfront site looked very different in 2012, when Mayor John Tory was chair of the Ontario Place Revitalization Panel. He wrote recommendations for bringing Ontario Place into the 21st century with an expanded public park to celebrate its connection to Ontario and the lake. The original iconic floating structures designed by architects Eberhard Zeidler and Michael Hough remained protected. This grand scheme would require public-private partnerships to create a revenue stream to realize the 55-acre park site in the west end of Ontario Place, always with the public in mind. That was then, this is now. Premier Ford has declared John Tory as ‘strong mayor’ with veto power, unless the council vote goes against provicial interests. That makes the city-owned land at Ontario Place easy pickings for the province, whether council likes it or not.

YQNA invited Ken Greenberg, leading urban designer in Toronto and many other world cities, to present the threats to Ontario Place. Here is his gripping presentation, Sept. 13, 2022. He urges the people of Toronto to join the growing protest against the commercialization of Ontario Place. It requires action from people like us, so join the campaign spearheaded by the citizen’s group Ontario Place for All at to see the multiple ways you can participate.

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