The bottom of Yonge Street has become an attractive Promenade and adds a new bike lane to the Waterfront. At the ribbon cutting were (left ot right) Downtown Manager of Planning and the guiding force behind this $5.1 million project, Al Rezoski, Michael De Cotiis of Pinnacle International, City Councillor Pam McConnell, Barry Fenton of Lanterra Development, and Yvonne Bambrick, Director of Toronto Cyclists Union.

Good planning does happen in Toronto. The new Yonge Street Pedestrian Promenade was officially opened on September 29th with City Councillor Pam McConnell and Downtown Manager of Planning, Al Rezoski, giving a tour of the new, attractive streetscape.

The densely populated neighbourhood put great demands on the pedestrian realm. Rezoski was praised for his tenacity and urban savvy, giving this formerly sad part of Yonge Street a green and pedestrian-friendly look. It now has wide sidewalks, planters edged with seating, 125 trees in raised beds, wide pedestrian crossings and 86 new roadway lights in the railway underpass. A charming plaza, open to the public, was created by Pinnacle International on Harbour Street.

One tall condo tower houses as many people as a subdivision, so bike lanes, parking and lock-up rings for bikes were important additions. Yvonne Bambrick, Director of Toronto Cyclists Union attended the event along with Michael De Cotiis of Pinnacle International and Barry Fenton of Lanterra Developments. Residents from St. Lawrence and York Quay Neighbourhood Associations applauded the promenade, which is one of several that will connect the Waterfront to downtown.

Traffic continues to flow at this busy intersection at Yonge Street. The major improvements are for people on two legs or two wheels. They’ll be safe and can enjoy a beautiful entry to the Waterfront.

Simcoe Ribbon Cutting

(Photo: L-R: Ribbon cutting attendees, Braz Menezes, Waterfront BIA and YQNA; and Adam Vaughan, Councillor, Ward 20)

Simcoe Street opened recently and is already a much-used artery between Queens Quay and downtown. It includes bike lanes that YQNA had pushed for, to provide a safe ride for cyclists. Thousands visit the Waterfront on two wheels, and many residents here either bike or walk to work. The pedestrian routes on Simcoe are also well designed, though the parts across Lake Shore Boulevard and under the Gardiner are still rough and unfinished. At least we can now drive, bike and walk much faster to many downtown destinations, such as the theatres on King Street.

A similar ribbon cutting was taking place September 29 (after the Update deadline) at Harbour Street and Yonge Street. The new streetscape here is also designed to include bike lanes, and the sidewalks have a generous width. Councillor Pam McConnell was the key speaker, and many Waterfront residents attended.

Silos to Go?

YQNA has participated in many meetings that focused on what to do with the Canada Malting Silos on Queens Quay near Bathurst. They are an eyesore and a danger because the walls are deteriorating.

Would it become a music school? A museum? A condo/hotel development? After years of discussion and studies, we now hear that the silos might be torn down. That’s a surprise, because we have always been told that it would be too expensive to remove these solid concrete structures. The cost in the past was estimated to be $8 million, which may be eclipsed by the land value today despite being next to the landing path to the Island Airport.

The City’s Heritage Preservation Services oversees the silos. So far, they have not invited us to a public consultation on what’s going on. YQNA has asked to be included, especially because of the effort that our residents have put into this issue. We know that a Toronto Museum is no longer in the cards for this location. Many people wish the silos gone, but don’t want other tall buildings to take their place.

Queens Quay Redesign

Newspaper reports from a recent board meeting at Waterfront Toronto gave vague and different reports about delays of the redesign of Queens Quay. YQNA is now investigating what – if anything – has changed. Councillor Adam Vaughan says the construction will go ahead as planned, starting next fall. To be certain, YQNA will get together with representatives from along the Waterfront in a meeting with Waterfront Toronto management. We want to keep the momentum going on Queens Quay.

The High Price of Harmonizing

Rosario Marchese, Member of Provincial Parliament, was guest speaker at YQNA’s meeting on Sep. 15. He talked about the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) that McGuinty plans to introduce in July 2010. It would increase condo fees – along with numerous other services and products – to levels that could make life difficult for the most vulnerable people on fixed incomes.

Instead of the HST, Marchese would prefer to tax the highest earners more and leave some basic needs at the current, lower tax. At the well-attended meeting, he urged us to sign his petition on or write premier McGuinty with a request to stop the HST.