June 07, 2023

2023 Bloor Recap (+ A Site Check)

This week saw two debates related to Bloor Street; those being Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) on Monday and today’s General Committee in Mississauga. Toronto’s IEC approved their motion – which will now go to City Council on Wednesday, June 14 – while Mississauga’s General Committee offered a silver lining despite the motion being deferred. Let’s review what happened at both meetings, as well as a site visit I did on my way home from the IEC meeting on Monday.

Albert Koehl getting ready to speak at Monday's Infrastructure & Environment Committee meeting

Toronto’s Bloor West Complete Street Extension

On Monday, 28 people spoke regarding Motion IE4.3 – myself included – which focused on the Bloor West Complete Street Extension among several other bikeways. As expected, Bloor got most of the attention, though four speakers voiced their concerns about the Cabbagetown bikeway project. Specifically regarding the contraflow bike lanes proposed for Ontario Street next to Winchester Park. Among those who deputed for Bloor, opinion was almost evenly split with a slight majority in favour. A recap of what all 28 speakers talked about can be found in the below Twitter thread or on YouTube, though I will highlight a few themes.

A lot of the focus from supporters was on safety. Some talked about how protected bike lanes made it safer for their spouses, children, grandchildren, or (in my case) dogs. One person brought up surviving a collision on an alternate route – Van Dusen – while others brought up recent tragedies such as April’s pedestrian death at Bloor and Aberfoyle. Brian Burchell of the Bloor Annex BIA covered the business angle while Lyn Adamson reminds everyone of the escalating climate crisis for why we need to take action (including extending the Bloor bike lanes). A few others had echoed my calls for a further extension of the Bloor bike lanes all the way to Mississauga.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis

Opponents offered an equally diverse number of reasons of their own. One deputant didn’t oppose the project, but wanted construction on streets such as Eglinton and The Queensway to be opened first. A couple of business owners offered easily debunked arguments such as the loss of parking when there were already 1200 Green P parking spaces in the area. Mayoral candidate Rob Davis – who started the “No New Bike Lanes” petition – did mention a problem which road safety advocates can agree on which is the traffic congestion caused by the 90,000 ride share drivers. The most outrageous deputation came from John Nunziata – Councillor Frances Nunziata’s brother – who claimed Toronto would face legal liability for going ahead with the Bloor extension as well as urge Queen’s Park to stop the project. Seriously?

While it was unfortunate there wasn’t a motion to add the Six Points to Mississauga stretch of Bloor to the 2025-27 bike plan, the motion still passed and I appreciated how Jacquelyn Hayward acknowledged Community Bikeways’ letter which had 100 signatories including 65 businesses in the area.

Mississauga’s Bloor Street Integrated Project

Ahead of today’s Mississauga meeting, I submitted a letter on behalf of Community Bikeways supporting the Bloor Street Integrated Project (BSIP) while Mississauga Cycling Now! shared their submission on Twitter. As expected, the Applewood Hills & Heights Residents Association (AHHRA) maintained their stubborn opposition to the project and insisted on keeping the street as is despite 53% of public comments being in favour of the project. The six speakers – including Athina Tagidou and Colin Tyler of the AHHRA – were opposed, though Jonathan Giggs of MCN! asked some questions after the deputations.

Upon listening to the councillor speeches, I noticed a change in mindset within Mississauga City Council despite the stubborn opposition from AHHRA. The question was no longer whether to support the BSIP, but rather how to do it well. Councillors John Kovac and Dipika Damerla supported the previous Alternative #5 which called for four traffic lanes, while Councillors Joe Horneck and Chris Fonseca supported the staff recommendation of Alternative #6 with two traffic lanes plus a centre turning lane.

You can watch the Mississauga debate here and read the recap from Steve Cornwell.

Site Check on Wellington

On my way home from Monday’s IEC meeting, I rode on Wellington Street which had bi-directional cycle tracks recently installed from Spadina Avenue to Bathurst Street.

The barriers use permanent poured concrete as opposed to quick build bollards and parking curbs, while still allowing access to driveways.

The street was still under construction west of Bathurst, so I turned right onto Bathurst to go to Adelaide.

Speaking of Adelaide, the City is moving the cycle track to the left side of the road to ensure continuous protection all the way across.

Jun N wrote a good piece checking out the College Street upgrades, as well as one on Sunday’s memorial ride at Scarlett and Braeburn.

Final Thoughts

While the results from Mississauga may not have been what we would have liked, it’s still worth acknowledging that they are taking a step in the right direction. Hopefully they can come to a decision between Alternatives 5 and 6 soon, while Toronto advocates can look forward to next week’s City Council vote on their part of Bloor from Runnymede to Six Points. If all goes well, installation starts this summer to Aberfoyle Crescent (3.7 km) and on to Resurrection Road (1.0 km) next year.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all of this info and advocating for these much needed bike lanes!