Overnight Work and Intersection Closure: Harbour Street and York Street
The project to build the new Simcoe Ramp and reconstruct Harbour Street is advancing on schedule. In order to continue work safely there will be a full intersection closure at York Street and Harbour Street this weekend.
Notice has been hand delivered to all buildings nearby, emailed to the contact list and stakeholders, and mailed through Canada Post to 55,000 addresses in the area. Click here to download an electronic copy of the notice or visit www.toronto.ca/simcoe-ramp.
The closure will begin at 9 pm on Friday, September 1 and the streets will re-open at 5 am on Tuesday, September 5.
Overnight work planned
I regret that the City and its contractor are planning to work overnight for the duration of the weekend.
The overnight will include noisy activities such as concrete saw cutting, concrete grinding, concrete removal, placing concrete into trucks, and beeping trucks backing up. While this should not be as loud as the demolition of the old ramp in the spring, it will still be significant for neighbours.
There will also be periods when very little activity is taking place while freshly-poured concrete cures in the roadway.
Defending local liveability during major construction projects
I have been advocating very consistently to limit the hours of work to the daytime because these construction activities are essentially in the "back yard" of thousands who live right beside the old ramp. In order to ensure that our downtown communities like the Waterfront and South Core remain liveable, we have to carefully manage noise and ensure that people are able to sleep through the night. It is unfair and unreasonable to burden local neighbours with overnight construction noise, especially when the project will take several months to complete. Restricting the work to daytime might cause a few minutes of delay to drivers but they can always find a new route around the work zone – unlike neighbours who can't find a temporary new home.
Unfortunately, I do not have the power to directly determine the hours of construction. City Council, comprised of 44 members, has granted this decision-making power to the City staff who are managing the project. This is a systemic issue with every major City construction project. It is classified as "Necessary Municipal Work" meaning that the normal rules under the Noise By-law (no construction activity outside the hours of 7 am to 7 pm from Monday to Friday, and 9 am to 7 pm on Saturday) do not apply.
Despite this challenge, I have been able to secure important, meaningful consideration for the local community: right from the start and until the project is complete in January, regular planned work should only take place between 7 am and 7 pm from Monday to Saturday, with no work on Sundays. Any unanticipated, non-emergency work outside those hours is supposed to be communicated to neighbours well in advance so you can make any necessary preparations, but these unplanned late hours should be extremely rare.
How you can help
In the planning of this construction project, there has been a tension from the beginning between disturbing local residents and inconveniencing commuting drivers. I advocate for the interests of local residents who stand to lose entire nights of sleep and have few alternatives. Drivers can always find a different route to where they are going. It is obvious to me that construction and demolition should be planned first around the needs of the local community, not commuting drivers. But with the decision in the hands of City staff who take a Toronto-wide perspective, facing political pressure from the elected representatives of those commuters, it is vitally important that your voice and your valid complaints are heard clearly by City staff and Mayor Tory. If they aren't hearing from you, they won't understand the serious negative impact that the work can have on so many thousands of homes. I can guarantee to you that they are hearing complaints from the commuting drivers. So please always remember to copy both email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org on any future complaints about the Simcoe Ramp project.
Following completion of the overnight work this weekend, work hours will return to the normally planned schedule of 7 am to 7 pm. You should receive advance notice of any non-emergency work outside those regular hours. You can visit www.toronto.ca/simcoe-ramp to sign up for direct email notification.
When all the work is completed by January 2018, we will have a new urbanized Harbour Street with sidewalks and a multi-use path, a new public park at York Street, and a new shorter off-ramp ending at Lower Simcoe Street. These changes will expand the public space available to our growing population, and make the streets in the neighbourhood safer and more convenient for everyone.