Last winter, City Council called for improved standards for sidewalk snow maintenance due to valid concerns raised by residents that Toronto’s current standards are completely insufficient in the downtown and centre of the City.
It is inequitable that residents in the former cities of North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, and York receive sidewalk snow clearing while the majority of neighbourhoods in Old Toronto and East York do not. This is especially concerning given that the levels of pedestrian traffic are much higher in these areas. Residents of our City’s inner suburban areas also frequently walk through downtown and midtown, and rightfully expect safe and accessible sidewalks too.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, walking will be more important than ever to our physical and mental health, especially for seniors and people living with mobility challenges. That is why, I moved a motion, seconded by Councillor Mike Layton, at this week’s Council meeting to request the following:
- City Council direct the General Manager, Transportation Services to provide an update on the Winter Maintenance Program Review that includes, but is not limited to, a plan on harmonizing sidewalk clearing standards for neighbourhoods in Midtown, East York and the downtown core, equipment procurement, and budget impact assessment to the October 6, 2020 Infrastructure and Environment Committee Meeting.
- City Council direct the General Manager, Transportation Services to investigate the appropriate equipment required to clear bike lanes and cycle tracks.
- City Council direct the General Manager, Transportation Services and the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation to develop a comprehensive snow clearing plan for all paved pedestrian and cycling pathways in Toronto’s parks.
While my motion was supported by a few of my colleagues, including the Mayor, it unfortunately did not receive a two-thirds vote for it to pass. It was however referred to an upcoming Infrastructure and Environment Committee. This is deeply concerning, as it further delays the City of Toronto’s ability to deliver harmonized sidewalk clearing standards, commit to clearing all bike lanes and cycle tracks and develop a plan to clear all paved pedestrian and cycling pathways in Toronto’s parks.
I’ll be connecting with community advocates over the next few weeks to develop a push campaign to ensure that our sidewalks, pathways and bike lanes are safe during this COVID year. If you have an interest in joining this movement, please email me.
In this spirit, I welcome you to read the following article to learn more about how we can make the most of this year’s COVID winter.