A new public space opened then Toronto work crews immediately ruined it
In this week's lesson on why we can't have nice things — or even moderately okay things, for that matter — a Toronto public space that only opened in 2018 exists in a pretty sorry state, already completely ruined and patched over by utility crews.
Developer Concert Properties wrapped up construction for its 58-storey condo tower at 88 Scott Street in 2018, incorporating the facades of the 1951 Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance building and reinstating a public plaza along the building's east side on Scott Street and adding matching paving along the Wellington frontage to the south.
It wasn't exactly on the same level as beloved spaces like Nathan Phillips Square, but the small forecourt area and wraparound paving added some much-needed continuity to the long-construction-fractured public realm, with red pavers in the prescribed style of the local BIA.
But before most had a chance to even walk through the space lining the base of the restored heritage facades, the city had already torn it to shreds to accommodate infrastructure work.
And when they put it back together, the red pavers were gone, replaced with cheap, basic-looking asphalt patching over the recent work area and bleeding into the remaining paving.
It's a life cycle of poor coordination and destruction locals are all too familiar with in this town, perfectly encapsulated in a tweet documenting the saga outside of 88 Scott.
A site is redeveloped (2016)— davidcapizzano (@davidcapizzano) November 8, 2022
The project is completed w. new public realm (2019)
The city immediately begins ripping up the new sidewalks for underground work (2019/20)
Finally, the new sidewalks and curbs are replaced almost entirely with cheap asphalt. (2022) pic.twitter.com/wNKGFwnayF
In a follow-up tweet, content creator and urbanist David Capizzano vented his frustrations, saying, "I hear a lot about how we can't have nice things in Toronto and that just isn't true - we have lots of nice things. We're just too cheap to take care of them."
The asphalt patch job was always meant to be temporary and will be ripped up yet again as the City moves along with its Wellington Track Replacement & Streetscape Improvements project, only to be reconstructed once more in a bizarre back and forth of giveth and taketh away.
A City of Toronto representative tells blogTO that the city and TTC "are renewing aging streetcar tracks on Wellington Street East from Yonge Street to Church Street. This work includes the restoration of this area of sidewalk as part of the streetscaping improvements."
The city representative claims that municipal staff work "to coordinate our municipal construction to address as many needs in an area at once within one project to avoid prolonged disruption."
But it begs the question, why can’t these works be coordinated in such a way where temporary easy-to-disassemble streetscape improvements are built into new projects in areas where public infrastructure upgrades are anticipated, rather than the current system of destroying and reconstructing the public realm piecemeal?
- no curb cuts in front of the condo building— Karl Martin (@KarlTheMartian) November 8, 2022
- construction spray paint strewn across paving stones
- everything is super slow, as usual in this city /2
Though it has made for a particularly ugly streetscape through project delays and a halt to work in June 2021 "due to several underground utility conflicts," renderings give the public hope that one day, in the not-too-distant future, the Wellington and Scott intersection will actually look normal again.
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