November 12, 2023

It’s Time to Fill the Mid-Humber Gap

On Wednesday, November 15, the City of Toronto and Queen’s Park were scheduled to face off in Divisional Court over yet another instance of interference by the Ford government in Toronto’s affairs; the case of the Mid-Humber Gap. This much-needed improvement to the Humber River trail from St. Phillips Road to Cardell Avenue was approved by Toronto City Council in July 2022. It would allow for a continuous ride from the waterfront to Steeles Avenue in western Toronto, as well as build out the larger Loop Trail along with the Finch Hydro Corridor, Don River, and Martin Goodman Trails.

Rendering of the Mid-Humber Gap (via City of Toronto)

The Ford government had put this project on hold on January 18, 2023, subjecting it to an individual environmental assessment (EA). This has caused unnecessary delays to a project that had been identified as a priority as far back as the 2012 Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan. This is particularly egregious when other, much larger projects, such as the proposed changes to Ontario Place which would involve cutting over 800 trees and spending at least $650 million to benefit a foreign spa company, have this EA requirement waived. On Wednesday, November 8, the Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks had agreed to set aside that individual EA requirement and would reconsider the project within 30 days; meaning a decision would be rendered by December 8, 2023.

Map of the approved alignment for the Mid-Humber Gap (via City of Toronto)

While Humber River Trail users can feel relieved about this outcome (though not fully out of the woods yet), the completion of the trail could still take several years because of this earlier petty hold up by the Ford government. They have become understandably frustrated with these delays and waited long enough for this critical trail gap to be filled.

Having biked along the Humber Trail several times, I can vouch for the unpleasant conditions on Weston Road. To avoid its fast-moving traffic, many trail users have resorted to biking illegally on the narrow sidewalk which in turn leads to a safety hazard for pedestrians. The large staircase at St. Phillips Road is inaccessible for those who require wheelchairs or other mobility aids, leading to lengthy detours along Lawrence Avenue West and Weston Road. Even with a wheel channel in place, the staircase is not meant to push bike trailers or cargo bikes up (or down), even as both modes of transport have gained in popularity with families looking for alternatives to automobiles.

This staircase near Weston & St. Phillips is a significant accessibility barrier for the Humber River Trail

There’s a better way to address the Mid-Humber Gap until construction is completed. The City of Toronto should install temporary bike lanes in Spring 2024 along Lawrence Avenue West and Weston Road from Little to Cardell Avenues to help people walk, bike, and roll along the Humber River Trail. Some drivers may feel inconvenienced by these temporary bike lanes, but that inconvenience could serve as motivation for them to call on Queen’s Park and the City of Toronto to ensure construction of the Mid-Humber Gap is done as soon as possible.

Map of proposed temporary bike lanes on Lawrence and Weston to accommodate Humber River Trail users

The Major Citywide Cycling Routes map calls for bikeways along Lawrence across the city and on Weston from St. Phillips to Finch. Installing temporary bikeways on these streets to address the Mid-Humber Gap could have a side benefit of informing the design of bikeways along the remainder of these corridors.

Another avenue I encourage road safety advocates to use to support bikeways in different parts of the city is to take part in the 2025-27 bike plan public consultations. The interactive map and survey are available until Sunday, December 10, while there are several virtual and in-person meetings you can sign up for. A separate post will be put up soon about the upcoming bike plan.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Weston Golf Club would really encourage a EAR due to what ever fertilizer run off that might leach into the Humber River