Avenue Road Safety Coalition
The 2.1-kilometre stretch of Avenue Road between St. Clair Avenue and Bloor Street West is a six-lane, high-speed road that is unsafe and hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. Research done by the City of Toronto shows that 85% of vehicles on the road routinely travel at speeds well in excess of the 50 KPH posted limits tracking speeds as high as 80 KPH. The sidewalks are dangerously narrow (in places only 1.2 meters wide), especially when considering the speeding cars and trucks.
This section of Avenue Road includes:
- five schools located directly on or within walking distance of Avenue Rd. (De La Salle College, Brown Junior Public School, Cottingham Junior Public School, The Mabin School and Avenue Road Arts School);
- four seniors’ residences (Bradgate Arms, The Amica at Balmoral, Hazelton Place and Belmont House);
- four parks that border onto Avenue Rd. (Ramsden Park, Jay Macpherson Green, Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette and Robertson Davies Park)
- at least seven new condominiums towers that have been approved and are currently being built and that will house thousands of new residents who will walk, cycle or drive along Avenue Rd.
The Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC) was founded to represent the concerns of the residents, the elderly, people with disabilities, parents and children, pedestrians and cyclists, and those who visit and walk along this section of Avenue Road between Bloor Street and St. Clair Avenue. Our coalition embodies the City’s Planning Objective to
“create the right balance of space for pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles”.
We believe that the current road configuration, the unsafe narrow sidewalks, and the excessive motor traffic speed will continue to contribute to collisions, injuries and death.
The immediate aim of the Avenue Road Safety Coalition is to encourage the city to set up a pilot project that would widen Avenue Road sidewalks between St. Clair Avenue West and Bloor Street West. This goal is supported by 21 Toronto-wide organizations.
Parking Requirements for New Development
On January 19, 2021, Planning and Housing Committee requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to conduct a review of the parking requirements in the Zoning By-law 569-2013 . A report was presented on “Recommended Parking Requirements for New Developments” accompanied by a Presentation to the Planning and Housing Committee on November 25, 2021.
The report recommended the adoption of Zoning By-law Amendments to the city-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 to modify the current standards for automobile and bicycle parking. Updating the City’s parking standards to better manage auto dependency and achieve a better balance between building too much or too little parking ultimately contributes to building more sustainable and healthy communities. The City faces several major challenges including a climate emergency; decreasing housing affordability; and increasing demand for mobility. While not sufficient on its own to overcome these challenges, more strategic, thoughtful management of the parking supply will contribute to addressing all of these challenges.
In order to achieve Council’s target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, aggressive action must be taken to curb the emissions from the transportation sector. Minimum parking requirements lead to the overbuilding of parking and support the continued growth of those emissions. Introducing maximum parking permissions will slow that growth in automobile use and resultant emissions.
This review of the parking standards in the city-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013 was guided by the principle that parking standards should allow only the maximum amount of automobile parking reasonably required for a given use and minimums should be avoided except where necessary to ensure equitable access. New developments will still have to provide adequate parking onsite, and not assume residents will be able to park on the street.
The changes will reduce the growth of the City’s parking supply while allowing those who need parking to have access to it. The removal of minimum parking standards does not remove existing parking, nor prevent new parking from being built.
FoNTRA stated in their November 24, 2021 letter that while they were in general support of the report’s direction, supporting flexibility in the application of parking standards, they do not support the complete elimination of minimum parking standards. Rather, FoNTRA suggests that the minimum standards be established by the type of location (downtown, suburban, near transit, etc.) and by types of building (rental apartments, small condos, luxury condos, etc. And also not to forget that the TTC predicts that Line 1 capacity will be reached no later than 2026. In addition, FoNTRA would suggest parking policy should be used to encourage use of electric over gasoline powered vehicles.
The Planning and Housing Committee adopted 15 Recommendations with amendments for review at the December 15, 2021 City Council meeting. A Revised Supplementary Report was presented in response to two requests from the PHC meeting on November 25, 2021: a request for an assessment of 1400 Weston Road and a request for relevant information regarding the application of the proposed parking policy for new developments in area outside of downtown. City Council adopted the Recommendations with additions/amendments. Staff will now proceed with implementing the Draft Zoning By-law Amendment for Parking and other associated changes.
Councillor A. Perruzza submitted a request to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on Oct. 26. 2021 to revisiting strategy to maintain walkways in a state of good repair. His request stated “Over the past twenty months of the pandemic we have seen increased use of our public walkways as residents travel through and enjoy their neighbourhoods safety during the pandemic. Residents have come to find that our public walkways are deteriorating; overgrown with vegetation, and with cracks that present serious safety and accessibility concerns. Included in the attachment are photos of two walkways in my ward with these issues. Cyclical maintenance of these spaces is lacking, leaving walkways overgrown with vegetation in warmer months, and icy or impassable in winter. As we continue to make use of our outdoor spaces to a greater degree, the walkways that connect our communities must be properly maintained.”
The Infrastructure and Environment Committee adopted a motion to request the General Manager, Transportation Services, to provide an update to the I&E Committee no later than January of 2022 on (a) the current level of service for public walkways, including seasonal and regular maintenance and (b) a framework for a City-wide strategy for the maintenance of public walkways.
This was adopted by City Council on Nov. 9, 2021 with amendments: City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, to provide an update to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee no later than January of 2022 on: (a) the current level of service for public walkways, including seasonal and regular maintenance; and (b) a framework for a City-wide strategy for the maintenance and capital renewal of public walkways.