I recently had a few conversations with a waterfront planner who works for the city. Not all of this is relevant but here's some interesting news...
1. The Lower Yonge public realm will, as of now, have a modified version of the cobras instead of the intended signature waterfront street light. They, thankfully, managed to convince Transportation Services to include paleo-tech pavers, with some technical changes that won't be noticeable at street-level. Planning has been unsuccessful in its negotiations but will keep pushing to change this.
2. We talked about the need for a comprehensive public realm design standard for the Port Lands and the ongoing pushback from Toronto Hydro regarding non-Cobra street lights. He highly preferred the original signature lights used on Queens Quay and talked extensively about his dislike of cobra street lights and the outdated acorns.
3. The following change has been made to the Port Lands OPM as part of a settlement at the OLT...
- 3.1 Ensure land use across the Port Lands and associated development is diverse
with beautifully designed buildings, and, where appropriate, capable of adaptive reuse; and exemplifies excellence in design and the use of materials;
I was interested in what that could mean. Aside from our calls, he gave me this detailed response through email...
4. We talked about how great it would be to have greater direction for, at the very least, a diverse yet coherent architectural language for the Port Lands.
5. The Lakeshore project was to use the signature waterfront street light but Toronto Hydro shot it down so they're only used as pedestrian lights.
6. The Port Lands OPM appeal process is going surprisingly well and the upcoming hearing will be the last one; one that'll decide on all issues, from urban design to affordable housing.
7. We spoke a lot about Toronto's broken public realm process... one where departments & agencies operate in silos and City Planning has to fight tooth-and-nail, project-by-project, one where standards are poor and ineffective, one where maintenance is poor and replacement parts turn beautiful places ugly. City Planning's 2022 Work Plan includes an item called "Building Better Streetscapes".
Surprise surprise... they'll be fixing all of these issues. They will create new public realm standards for the entire city (including paving, lighting, and other elements), will rein in departments and agencies (including Toronto Hydro) to follow them in every project, will ensure developments and their POPS work together with the public realm to create a coherent and beautiful pedestrian experience, and, thank god, replace the cobras and acorns with something new.
It will be very comprehensive and the ideal is to cover every element that makes up our public realm across many different players. Hallelujah!
8. I suggested a modified, more elegant acorn for older parts of the city, a variant of the St. Clair / West Don Lands contemporary light for newer areas, the original signature waterfront street light for all areas of the waterfront, greater use of Victorian roadway & pedestrian lights, and a new city-wide pedestrian light to replace the Type II.
I'll update you guys with more details in the coming weeks!