By Kimberly Spice –
Daniel Torchia, the father of two young children, was shocked last month when he strolled by the Harbourfront Centre at the bottom of Simcoe St. and found that the tree-lined children’s play area had been removed and that the posted plans showed no signs of replacement.
The frustrated Yonge and Queens Quay area resident feels that the decisions being made with regards to the waterfront revitalization are putting tourism before the needs of the area’s young families.
“We look at our options and we want to live here and stay at the Harbourfront,” Torchia told The Bulletin, confessing that he is now considering a move to a more family-friendly area. “Other than some patches of grass where the ferries go, some Cherry Beach options for adults and HTO Park, you realise the walk to the nearest park is the Roundhouse.”
Waterfront Toronto and other area organizations such as the York Quay Neighbourhood Association (YQNA) try hard to keep residents informed and involved in the revitalization process but now—with the construction underway—people like Torchia are taking notice of the developments and want their concerns and questions addressed.
“There have been umpteenth public meetings from Waterfront Toronto, as a matter of fact there was one last week, and there was also a public meeting from Harbourfront Centre where everybody is welcomed,” commented YQNA board member Ulla Colgrass, adding that even with all their efforts they may not reach everyone.
The YQNA shares Torchia’s concerns about the destroyed children’s park and on Nov. 24 they sent a letter to Waterfront Toronto, Harbourfront Centre, and councillors Adam Vaughan and Pam McConnell strongly expressing the need to resurrect the play area.
Getting information to the neighbourhood has been a prime directive for the YQNA and they have gone to great lengths to involve residents through a number of meetings. Colgrass recommends people get on the emailing lists of Waterfront Toronto, the Harbourfront Centre and their local city council member.
Michelle Noble, director of communications and marketing at Waterfront Toronto, stated in an e-mail, “We have also held a number of public meetings about the project. Our public meetings are well advertised and typically draw between 200 and 400 community members. Since January 2010, we have held three public meetings with presentations about the York Quay project (March 2010, May 2010 and November 2010). These public meetings offer community members an opportunity to ask questions or leave written comments for the team on a comment sheet.”
Information, questions and concerns about developments can be sent to Waterfront Toronto at email@example.com.
The YQNA’s next meeting will be held on Jan. 10 at the Radisson Hotel Admiral on Queens Quay at 7 p.m. More information can be found on their website www.yqna.ca.