Yonge Street between Sheppard and the Finch St corridor is at the end of its lifecycle – the roadway was last reconstructed in 1975. Last week, Council debated what this section of Yonge will look like for generations to come. Yonge Street is the central transportation corridor and pedestrian promenade within North York Centre, one of four centres that have an important role in achieving the provincial growth objectives of the Official Plan where jobs, housing, and services will be concentrated. While the North York Centre is transforming into a transit-oriented and dynamic mixed-use area, the implementation of the street vision has not been fully achieved or kept pace with this evolution. Inconsistent urban design features, including sidewalks, crossings, and medians, and the lack of dedicated cycling facilities reduce the appeal of the street and present safety risks.
Staff recommended a number of opportunities that would both improve the streetscape and align the plans with Vision Zero road safety policies, including:
- improving streetscape by including street trees, lighting, paving, and street furniture
- expanding sidewalks and boulevard widths
- integrating adjacent parks and public open spaces
- enhancing the landscaped median
- improving safety for all users
- including cycling facilities on Yonge Street
- improving pedestrian crossing facilities
- re-configuring right-of-way and traffic lanes
Despite Staff recommendations and overwhelming support from urban experts and city leaders including former Mayor David Crombie and renowned urban planner Ken Greenberg, Mayor Tory supported a more costly option to put bike lanes on neighbouring Beecroft and keep Yonge as a 6-lane thoroughfare.
Thankfully, the vote on this item was deferred until the next term of Council where I hope a more thoughtful approach will be taken.
For more information, please see this Toronto Star article.
To see my speech supporting REImagine Yonge and Vision Zero Road Safety- please start at 1:06.