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What's the problem with the Eglinton Connects plan?

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 9, 2014

toronto eglinton connectsWhen the Crosstown LRT opens in 2020, Eglinton Avenue is due to undergo a massive $350 million series of upgrades. There will be widened sidewalks, a bike lane, new trees, and public art as well as ways to protect the street's heritage buildings and manage development spurred by the transit line.

Sounds good, right? Not if you're Rob Ford or John Tory.

At a press event in which he was heckled by a shirtless protestor, Ford claimed Eglinton Connects, the blueprint for the changes, would reduce the road to two lanes and worsen traffic on connecting streets, a claim refuted by chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who also said the street will never be as narrow as two lanes and that no parking spaces would be lost.

"The objective is to create a great pedestrian street," Keesmaat told reporters.

For 1.5 kms between Avenue and Mount Pleasant, the area that sees the least through traffic, the road will be cut back to three lanes: one through lane in each direction and a centre lane for turning. There, "traffic volumes diminish to the point where only one through lane in each direction is required to accommodate the forecasted traffic demands," a report notes.

Ford was also adamant at his press conference that the blueprint was developed in secret, without input from councillors. In fact, as Global News reports, the plans have been in the works for more than two years, featuring in newspaper ads, mail outs, and public consultations. We covered the plan in October of last year.

"A lot of the councillors weren't even aware of it yesterday, and we looked at it. Cause when I got briefed from the city manager, I wasn't told they were reducing lanes of traffic," Ford said.

The plan has come to council a handful of times before, but never as a complete package (that's due to happen today or tomorrow.) Ford voted against the first motion but was absent for the following three, which ended up heavily in support of commencing various related studies.

Mayoral candidate John Tory joined Ford in speaking out against Eglinton Connects, decrying the (greatly exaggerated) potential loss of traffic lanes and parking. He said the idea was "a non-starter" if it meant cutting back on vehicle lanes. Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz backed the plan.

Are Ford and Tory missing the mark with their opposition to Eglinton Connects? Has there been enough public consolation on the changes?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: City of Toronto



iSkyscraper / July 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm
The "problem" is that the Mayor is a child who would rather read comic books rather than any document issued by the ULI, and he can fuck off and go to hell. He has poisoned the minds of an entire swatch of lowbrow Toronto, which will now take enormous education and effort to undo.

Tory is a smart guy but is being forced to pander to these ex-Ford voters, which unfortunately means parroting some of Ford's idiotic ideas for the time being. If elected, I'm sure he would come around quickly once the details, precedents, etc. were all worked out and explained to him. He could say "I fought to keep traffic moving, and I've been assured by our transportation staff that those needs have now been accommodated while making Eglinton the kind of great street that a great city deserves, blah blah blah."

I mean, study the maps. It makes perfect sense and is exactly in line with what other successful cities are doing. Provided we do not elect a mayor with the IQ of a doorknob and a planning sense inspired by the 1939 World's Fair the plan should proceed and the city will turn out fine.
freddietwostep replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / July 9, 2014 at 01:11 pm
Well said.
W. K. Lis / July 9, 2014 at 01:16 pm
The plan was acceptable to the locals. If one rather use Eglinton as an expressway, like Rob Ford or (it seems) John Tory, it is not.
Rob replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / July 9, 2014 at 01:17 pm
To add to iSkyscaper, I'd say that people are still stuck in a mentality where they think it's Toronto in the 1960s. Whites stay on one side and blacks on the other - this thinking is still rampant in the area. The car is king in midtown to northern parts of the city and anything that adds a few minutes to the commute is horrendous. Construction sucks, don't get me wrong, but this has the potential to transform Eglinton for the better. People need to get over themselves, to a large degree.
Ronald McDonald / July 9, 2014 at 01:27 pm
There was discussion in the Toronto Sun that houses will be expropriated to construct an additional street running parallel to Eglinton. This would be to accommodate the traffic that will always be needed and logistically can't be by bike or foot, like EMS service and truck transport for all the shops. Why is that not mentioned here? This is a pretty drastic change to their neighbourhood and there ought to be more discussion about it.
mar / July 9, 2014 at 01:35 pm
Oh my god. imagine Eglinton became a community instead of thoroughfare. it's exciting to think people may walk, ride and smile instead of the current horn honking and grimacing
Brent replying to a comment from Ronald McDonald / July 9, 2014 at 01:49 pm
Is there an official source? The Environmental Study Report (the mitigation section) notes property requirements, but only lists the potential for property requirements along Eglinton and recommends that property be taken for jog removal at offset intersections when those sites come up for redevelopment.
Jack / July 9, 2014 at 01:51 pm
"For 1.5 kms between Avenue and Mount Pleasant, the area that sees the least through traffic, the road will be cut back to three lanes: one through lane in each direction and a centre lane for turning. There, "traffic volumes diminish to the point where only one through lane in each direction is required to accommodate the forecasted traffic demands"

They can see the effect right now. Due to some prep work for the LRT tunneling, Eglinton East is down to one lane each way between Yonge and Dunfield. Traffic gets pretty backed up during rush hour. Making this a permanent situation probably isn't the best idea.
Beem88 replying to a comment from AV / July 9, 2014 at 02:03 pm
Hahahaha! iSkyscraper's comment... brilliant!
Michelle replying to a comment from Jack / July 9, 2014 at 02:05 pm
There will be an LRT running underground which will alleviate said traffic.
Jordan Grant / July 9, 2014 at 02:09 pm
My office is just off Yonge between Davisville & Eglinton. I walk up to Yonge & Eglinton for lunch, but I also often have to drive to out-of-town meetings. There's vibrant pedestrian street life in the neighbourhood and everyone knows Eglinton is slow for cars between Mt. Pleasant and Avenue Rd. That's not a problem, it goes with being a City.
Mayor Ford just doesn't understand the urban environment. I'm surprised and disappointed to hear that John Tory is mimicking Ford's suburban mantra - cars must move at all costs. Haven't decided how to vote yet (other than anybody but Ford).
scottd replying to a comment from Ronald McDonald / July 9, 2014 at 02:10 pm
I am not seeing that anywhere.
Al replying to a comment from Ronald McDonald / July 9, 2014 at 02:13 pm
The reason it isn't discussed is because it isn't true. There is no plan for expropriation.
Dave / July 9, 2014 at 02:23 pm
I skipped the entire article because the title says it all. If you have ever driven on Eglinton, even before the LRT construction, then you would know that it's already a gong show.

This has no place in North Toronto and the residents in this area, with kids playing outside, will see a 10-20% increase in traffic on those side streets.

How about we concentrate on making walkable streets downtown, like John Street, Richmond/Adelaide, etc.

McRib / July 9, 2014 at 02:33 pm
how dumb to want to turn Eglinton into an avenue instead of a thoroughfare.

how dare the city try and beautify things. how dare the city try and accommodate all forms of transit. and how bloody dare they try and make the streets safer for cyclists.

I agree with Dave, there is no place for beautification, neighbourhood enrichment, or cyclist and pedestrian safety in north Toronto. Keep that namby-pamby shit downtown with the drug addicts and pan-handlers.

Gary / July 9, 2014 at 02:41 pm
There is nothing wrong with this plan. It's a balance of what is good for cars and what is good for pedestrians. It takes into account the needs and desires of the neighbourhood and that of the city over-all. It's a great plan but Ford hates anything that is balanced. He needs everything to only serve the needs of suburban car drivers. If it even tries to compromise a bit from his plans, he's against it. Basically, he's a selfish f#*k, who only wants what's good for him. It's 2014, we need a plan that gives a little something to everyone but as we all know, our mayor is not good with compromise. He wants everything 100% his way. Just ignore him and let's carry on building a great city that works for everyone, including transit users, car drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. That's the only fair and reasonable thing to do. Getting rid of Ford is also the only fair and reasonable thing to do. Tory is against this plan too, so he isn't getting my vote either.
Stella / July 9, 2014 at 02:45 pm
It is parmount that we spend some dollars on upgrading a very important freeway! lol! Sometime I think that the city if Toronto does not see major corridors of Toronto! Eglington just like Yonge street is a major eye sore that needs some major upgrades.

Lets get to work b4 the games! Stella
ted replying to a comment from McRib / July 9, 2014 at 02:49 pm
sad that we live in a city where it almost hard to tell if you are being sarcastic or not
asgsdfg replying to a comment from ted / July 9, 2014 at 03:00 pm
@ted mcrib is a troll. so is dave. just ignore them
ted replying to a comment from asgsdfg / July 9, 2014 at 03:08 pm
lol, yeah I'm pretty sure they are being sarcastic
person / July 9, 2014 at 03:17 pm
For a person like me who lives right beside eglinton, I think this is such an amazing plan. We have not seen Toronto upgrade like this at all, the recent upgrade was the ttc buses which in fact it shouldve been done years ago. So this plan should be continued with and invested in.
Yum replying to a comment from asgsdfg / July 9, 2014 at 03:23 pm
I think what Dave has is what adults call "a different opinion". When you grow up you will learn that people have different thoughts and ideas.
Adam / July 9, 2014 at 04:23 pm
I live right there and do drive that stretch often, and from what I've seen of the plan am in full support of it!
stephen / July 9, 2014 at 04:51 pm
Also a resident of the area and am very hopeful this plan goes through. Let's all hope John Tory doesn't get in. Tory is against this plan and just wants to cater to Ford's voters.
ross / July 9, 2014 at 05:00 pm
Some folks are so married to their cars that they refuse to read documents that imply the automobile may not be the last word in commuter transit.
Steve replying to a comment from Ronald McDonald / July 9, 2014 at 05:45 pm
What are you doing reading the Toronto Sun then quoting them without fact checking. It is must they are prone to myths and lies, especially if it SAL. A simple Google search will disprove most thing written in that tabloid.
Jessica Wilson / July 9, 2014 at 06:47 pm
CORRA's position is that the primary concern has to do with the fact that Eglinton Connects failed to satisfy Official Plan requirements on "fair, open, and accessible" public consultation when Official Plan Amendments are put forward. In this post, I'm going to say very explicitly exactly what the (main) problem here is supposed to be.

To start, it's important to distinguish between the kind of "visioning" consultation that occurs before Planning proposes some area-specific policy recommendations and associated Official Plan Amendments (OPAs), and the sort of notice/consultation that occurs after Planning proposes some recommendations and OPAs.

The latter sort of notice/consult is required by the Official Plan (see attached pages), in Chapter 5.5 ('The Planning Process'), Policy 1 ('Public Involvement'), which aims for "a fair, open, and accessible public process".

In particular, Policy 1.c.ii in Chapter 5.5 requires "holding at least one community meeting in the affected area, in addition to the minimum statutory meeting requirements of the Planning Act, for proposed Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law amendments prior to approval".
Eglinton Connects has involved plenty of "visioning" consultation, but almost no notice/consultation about the specific recommendations of the sort required by 5.5, Policy 1---certainly not of an "accessible" sort.

In particular, it is CORRA's position that, after the 21 recommendations came out in March, there should have been, at a minimum, at least one (preferably more) public meeting in each of the 12 affected Wards. Preferably, there should have been such notice/consultation before Council received and approved the recommendations on May 6, and most importantly---and as is required by the Official Plan, above---there should have been such notice/consultation prior to consideration of the OPAs implementing the recommendations at the July 8-9 Council meeting.

Instead of appropriately comprehensive notification (via, as is standard, addressed mail) to all affected residents, and instead of public meetings in each of the affected 12 Wards, there were only 2 open houses: one on May 12 at the Science Centre (Eglinton and Don Mills), and one on May 15 (at Beth Sholom, on Eglinton near Allan Rd).

Moreover, on May 6, Councillor Filion introduced an amendment for enhanced consultations on recommendations likely to have broader City-wide impact; no such enhanced consultations took place.
Al replying to a comment from Jessica Wilson / July 9, 2014 at 08:37 pm
They were required to hold one public meeting. They held two. You just don't like that most of the community disagrees with you.
DL / July 9, 2014 at 09:18 pm
Can somebody direct me to the statistics that show Eglinton between Avenue and Mt Pleasant, including the Yonge-Eglinton intersection, is lightly-travelled? Because I'm straight calling bullshit on that one.
Parker / July 9, 2014 at 10:21 pm
This is city building. If Ford is against it, chances are it's a winning idea.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Al / July 9, 2014 at 10:22 pm
The notices for the meetings were probably mixed in with the junk mail Jessica Wilson threw out. That's why I have bookmarks and e-mail correspondence with city hall, Metrolinx, and others, so I can check several ways.
Joe Q. replying to a comment from DL / July 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm
Not that it is necessarily "lightly travelled" now, but that it will be relatively lightly travelled once there is an LRT running underneath it and the dozens of buses that now run up and down that stretch are gone.
Josh / July 10, 2014 at 09:46 am
Isn't the whole point of adding in the giant underground subway/lrt to reduce traffic in the first place?
TL replying to a comment from DL / July 10, 2014 at 10:07 am
It is lightly travelled. People who drive either take avenue or bathurst south. Those coming from the west would take the Allen, go east on eglinton and go south on Bathurst. Those coming from the east would rather take Avenue or Spadina as their passage going south.

I'm all for openness but honestly working in construction. Openness and transparency cost a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. You'll have to pay someone to dig that information for you.
Jethro Seymour / July 10, 2014 at 01:09 pm
Great comments on what is going to be a very expensive project. If it goes through it will add additional traffic to the local side streets which are full of kids. (Many people move into the area for the schools.) Leaside has experienced this with the addition of the big box stores on Laird. There definitely needs to be more "local" public consultation. I'd love to hear what our local Councillor Josh Matlow has to say.
GRAARG / July 17, 2014 at 09:29 am
Yesterday in Leaside a 7 year old girl was struck and killed by a car. While it is still being investigated by TPS, it was at an intersection where there really is no excuse – a car can easily see in all directions and even in the situation of a child running into the street, should be able to easily stop in time.

I think you will find a great deal of sensitivity around the narrowing of the lanes on Eglinton from local residents. On the pro side it looks very nice, is pedestrian friendly, adds a bike lane, and has a number of other very nice benefits. Currently Eglinton, just east of the area in question, is down a lane due to construction of the Crosstown LRT as is Bayview nearby due to other construction. The result is a huge amount of extra traffic cutting through the residential streets of Leaside and Davisville as drivers grow frustrated by the bottlenecks. And it’s not only the increase in traffic – it’s that the drivers are frustrated from being in traffic jams – so they speed and roll stop signs in the residential areas to make up time.

In a number of the comments people refer to the European-like approach being proposed on Eglinton. Here’s the difference – next to those European type arteries are European like side streets. Which is to say, you are better off staying on the main street as the side streets are typically narrow, have slow moving traffic, and they meander. Our side streets are different - they are wide, traffic flows well, for the most part they are in neat grid patterns, and they make great shortcuts. And unlike those Euro side streets – we have lots of kids running in an out of parks, front lawns, playing hockey in the street, etc. While I am generalizing somewhat, the points are valid.

As any local resident can tell you, there has been a huge increase in traffic on the residential streets nearby since lanes were reduced on Bayview and Eglinton. It’s reasonable to assume the same will happen if this proposal goes ahead as planned. IF we are to take lanes away permanently on Eglinton, there MUST BE a fully thought out and well executed plan to ensure that the consequence is not additional speeding cars on residential side streets. That would include lots of no turn streets, one ways, speedbumps, etc.

Yesterday a little girl was killed by someone using the residential streets of Leaside as a shortcut. TPS and the court will determine if the driver was negligent. Regardless, nothing can undo what happened.

While everyone gets all excited about the pretty renderings, bike lanes, etc – let’s make sure that cost of it is not more traffic on residential streets and more kinds in danger.
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