$51.1 mil REimag­in­ing Yonge de­layed again

Doug Ford and coun­cil­lor John Fil­ion butt heads over pro­posed plan by Jes­sica Wei

Bayview Post - - News -

Af­ter a long and heated com­mit­tee meet­ing in­volv­ing spar­ring coun­cil­lors and pas­sion­ate re­marks from 16 com­mu­nity mem­bers, REimag­ine Yonge, the $51.1 mil­lion streetscape redevelopment plan spear­headed by Ward 25 coun­cil­lor John Fil­ion, will have to wait at least one more month be­fore Toronto City Coun­cil reaches a de­ci­sion on whether to move it for­ward.

Dur­ing a Jan. 19 meet­ing of coun­cil’s pub­lic works and in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee (PWIC), 16 of 26 reg­is­tered speak­ers were able to air their thoughts on the pro­posed plan, which would see the six-lane stretch of Yonge Street be­tween Shep­pard Av­enue and Finch Av­enue re­duced to four lanes, mak­ing room for wider side­walks and bike lanes.

Con­cerns over traf­fic con­ges­tion and calls for fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion were re­peated is­sues from those who op­posed the idea. Ward 7 coun­cil­lor Gior­gio Mam­moliti re­peat­edly sug­gested that the project be opened up to a city­wide vote in the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion in Oc­to­ber, say­ing, “I be­lieve that if coun­cil­lor Fil­ion were to bring this into the elec­tion in Oc­to­ber then he would lose the elec­tion.”

For­mer Eto­bi­coke city coun­cil­lor and pre­sump­tive may­oral can­di­date Doug Ford ve­he­mently op­posed the project. When asked by Fil­ion whether he had read the full re­port, Ford replied, “I don’t need to read a staff re­port to see they’re go­ing to de­stroy Yonge Street.”

He ac­cused Fil­ion of ram­ming this project through coun­cil be­fore proper con­sul­ta­tions had been car­ried out.

Those who sup­ported this streetscape plan in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the David Suzuki Foun­da­tion and two lo­cal neigh­bour­hood as­so­ci­a­tions. They re­it­er­ated the need for safer side­walks, bike lanes and more vi­brant and ac­ces­si­ble re­tail, and pointed out the nu­mer­ous con­sul­ta­tions city staff held with the com­mu­nity.

“[Trans­form­ing Yonge Street] will be of tremen­dous value to most lo­cal re­tail­ers and busi­nesses such as [mine and] my wife’s …” said lo­cal business owner Pe­dram Rah­bari, ex­plain­ing that more traf­fic does not trans­late into more pedes­tri­ans. “Not only does the mas­sive vol­ume of traf­fic not ben­e­fit street­side re­tail­ers, it is detri­men­tal to their business.”

A strict 3:30 p.m. dis­missal time was im­posed, forc­ing the meet­ing to end be­fore the last 10 peo­ple, in­clud­ing coun­cil­lor Fil­ion, had their chance to speak. In the end, the com­mit­tee voted to pick up dis­cus­sions on Feb. 27 be­fore send­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to city coun­cil.

“I don’t need to read a staff re­port to see they’re go­ing to de­stroy Yonge.”

A ren­der­ing of the pro­posed plan

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