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Vaughan addresses BQNA

March 9th, 2012 · 1 Comment

COUNCILLOR TALKS TUNNELS, TAXIS, AND CASINOS AT TOWN HALL MEETING

uncillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) speaks with residents of the Bathurst and Queen’s Quay area at Windward Co-operative Homes on Feb 29. Rasheed Clarke/Gleaner News.

By Rasheed Clarke

The Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association hosted a town hall meeting with Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) on Feb. 29 to give area residents a chance to discuss the issues affecting the neighbourhood with their city hall representative.

Inside the Waterview Room at Windward Co-operative Homes (34 Little Norway Cres.), Vaughan provided residents with updates on construction, development, and traffic management for the area.

One of the most pressing concerns identified by neighbourhood residents was the planned construction of an underwater pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is now only accessible by ferry.

While residents have opposed the tunnel for fear of increased congestion, according to Vaughan the underwater pedestrian passageway is imminent. “The tunnel project has been approved, it’s moving ahead, it’s been tendered and there is a constructor on contract,” he said. The next step is the creation of a construction liaison committee, which will outline a construction management agreement. “The agreement will ensure the neighbourhood is as protected as it can be from noise, dust, and trucks driving through,” said Vaughan. “We’ve already achieved some agreements on that. The trucks are not to cut through this neighbourhood as they take waste away or deliver material to the construction site.” Additional airport-related construction is about to get underway, according to Suzanna Birchwood, spokesperson for the Toronto Port Authority. “We are now starting to put up a noise barrier that will reduce noise for this immediate area,” she said. “It did take a very long time (to put up the barrier) but there are different levels of government at work trying to come up with solutions, so it’s not a pretty or quick process.”

While construction plans move forward in the neighbourhood, residents remain frustrated with taxi congestion. “Taxis are always an issue in our area,” said Sandra Taylor, who owns two condominiums in the neighbourhood. She worries that the pedestrian tunnel to the island airport will mean more taxis jamming local streets. A number of parents who attended the town hall also expressed their concern that the increased taxi presence was posing a risk to children on their way to and from The Waterfront School (635 Queens Quay W.).

Vaughan’s response was a planned proposal that cars travelling northbound from the island airport on Eireann Quay not be allowed to make left or right turns onto Queens Quay W. Additionally, Vaughan stated that crossing times at intersections would be examined. “We want to make sure that kids and people who need to cross, and who don’t move at the speed of light but rather move at the speed of people, can get across safely,” he said. Vaughan revealed that community council had approved a plan for speed bumps to be installed on Eireann Quay. However, the Toronto Port Authority took that decision to court, arguing that speed bumps would impede emergency vehicles from reaching the island airport in the event of a plane crash. “The day to day safety of the children walking on that street has to be spoken to,” said Vaughan. “The safety of children in this neighbourhood trumps everything.

“We’ll stop at nothing to make that street safe, I don’t care how many lawsuits the Port Authority throws at me.”

While activity increases around the island airport, residents were also interested to hear about the future plans for the now quiet Ontario Place lands. The construction of a casino on the grounds is one of the ideas being mulled by the province, which owns Ontario Place. Vaughan expressed his outright opposition to a casino, which he believes could nurture gambling problems, amidst other drawbacks. “It’s not a moral issue to me, although there are moral implications, but it’s an urban fabric issue, it’s a planning issue. Casinos are really bad in big cities. “It would transform the social dynamic on the street, it would transform the way people use this neighbourhood.”

Vaughan added that the provincial government has stated that it will not put a casino in a community that is not willing. Plenty of heads around the Waterview Room nodded to Vaughan’s comments, suggesting this neighbourhood would not welcome a casino in their community.

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