Decision on REimagine Yonge Deferred

City Council last week deferred consideration of REimagine Yonge. The deferral came after the TTC raised last-minute concerns about potential conflict between bike lanes and a bus lane north of Finch Avenue.  With this issue unresolved, the Transform Yonge option would not likely have passed. John therefore reluctantly supported postponing the decision.

The issue could possibly come back to Council this term or, as the last Council meeting this term is in July, a decision may be delayed until 2019.

The Transform Yonge option is recommended by city staff and was supported by the majority of residents who attended the many consultation meetings.  It was also supported by every organization advocating for pedestrian and cycling safety and a who’s who of city building experts, including David Crombie, Jennifer Keesmaat, Ken Greenberg, Richard Florida, Richard Peddie and the Ryerson City Building Institute.

Transform Yonge would create a Main Street environment on Yonge with much wider sidewalks, with enough room for planting, benches and outdoor patios plus a bike lane separated from both motorists and pedestrians. It would also reduce a lane of traffic in each direction, making Yonge much less of a highway for 905ers.

Some of the key reasons John supports the Transform Yonge option:

There are currently 14 lanes running north-south between Sheppard and Finch Avenues – six on Yonge and four each on each of Doris and Beecroft, located a short block from Yonge.  Reducing the 14 lanes to 12 still leaves more than enough road capacity, to the point where any delay to commuters is estimated at less than one minute.

Seventy-five percent of the cars on this stretch of Yonge at rush hour are from the 905.  Reducing the six-lane highway funnelling cars onto Yonge from north of Steeles will reduce the number of cars commuting through Willowdale.

Yonge Street is in poor condition and overdue for reconstruction. This opportunity comes only once every 60-75 years.  Willowdale has changed dramatically over the past 25 and the pace of change is accelerating.  John believes it is important to plan for streets and sidewalks that look to the future. This area needs an interesting and attractive main street – something that will never happen with substandard sidewalks and a six-lane highway running through it.

Between 2010 and 2017, on this stretch of Yonge, there were 78 reported collisions involving pedestrians.  Eight of these persons were killed or seriously injured.  Wider sidewalks and reduced lanes of speeding traffic will make this road safer.

Despite all of the evidence and support, it is difficult to win a vote against the wishes of the mayor. Mayor Tory supports a proposal that would retain six lanes of traffic and sidewalks that are much too narrow in many sections. He proposes bike lanes on Beecroft at an additional cost of $10 – $20 million. This would mean rebuilding Beecroft, most of which was built only a few years ago, and lead to continuous Yonge/Beecroft construction lasting approximately four years.

A copy of the city staff report can be found online here.

To share your thoughts you can complete John’s feedback form here.