Lo­cal coun­cil­lors at odds over pro­posal

City puts plan to re­vi­tal­ize Yonge Street on hold un­til next year by Chris Rid­dell

Bayview Post - - News -

Wil­low­dale res­i­dents have to wait at least another year un­til the am­bi­tious plans laid out in the REimag­in­ing Yonge study go any fur­ther. Toronto City Coun­cil voted to de­fer the study un­til 2018 in last month’s bud­get meet­ing, and many aren’t happy, in­clud­ing Ward 23 coun­cil­lor John Fil­ion.

“Peo­ple thought this was all about bi­cy­cle lanes,” said Fil­ion. “It in­cludes bi­cy­cle lanes, but this is about com­pletely re­ju­ve­nat­ing Yonge Street be­tween Shep­pard and Finch, mak­ing it look ter­rific, mak­ing it func­tion as part of the com­mu­nity, and mak­ing it an area that peo­ple who pay very high taxes and live nearby can be proud of.That’s all been taken away now.”

The project needed $4 mil­lion to go into the de­sign phase, and half of that would have been cov­ered by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Pub­lic Tran­sit In­fra­struc­ture Fund.

Coun­cil­lor David Shiner of Ward 24, which abuts Fil­ion’s ward on the east side of Yonge Street past Finch Av­enue, put for­ward the mo­tion to de­fer the plan. At the meet­ing, Shiner ar­gued the traf­fic im­pacts of the pro­posal need to be re­con­sid­ered, and the bike lanes should be ex­tended all the way up to Stee­les Av­enue and moved to side streets rather than the busy thor­ough­fare of Yonge.

Shiner also said that build­ing ev­ery­thing set forth in the plan would cost $37 mil­lion, and the city can’t af­ford that with its cur­rent bud­getary con­straints. Jared Kolb, di­rec­tor of Cy­cle Toronto, echoed Fil­ion’s con­cern that a de­fer­ral could es­sen­tially kill the plan. “Our con­cern is that by de­fer­ring this to next year, since next year is an election year, we may not see any ac­tion un­til 2019,” said Kolb. “Then it re­mains to be seen how this fits into the cap­i­tal re­con­struc­tion sched­ule. It may de­fer in­def­i­nitely.”

Michael Capo­to­sto, pres­i­dent of the West Lans­ing Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, has mixed feel­ings about the study. “I hate see­ing the city de­fer po­si­tions be­cause, if they keep de­fer­ring de­ci­sions, noth­ing gets done,” he said. “When they ac­tu­ally make the de­ci­sion to do some­thing, then let’s just stop an­a­lyz­ing the hell out of it and do some­thing.”

REimag­in­ing Yonge would send more traf­fic to side streets, but Capo­to­sto feels there are more press­ing con­cerns at hand. “Frankly, a big­ger im­pact in our neigh­bour­hood is the Yonge-401 con­sid­er­a­tion be­cause we have cars lined up all the way down Yonge Street to get on the 401,”he said.

Mean­while, Wil­low­dale res­i­dents will have to wait un­til the 2018 bud­get meet­ing to see if REimag­in­ing Yonge will ever come to fruition.

“Let’s just stop an­a­lyz­ing the hell out of it and do some­thing. ”

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