Giorgio Mammoliti

How Giorgio Mammoliti has failed Emery Village

At the intersection of Finch Avenue West and Weston Road sits the core of Emery Village. Those who drive by there at the present time will notice two things: (1) three lane roads in either direction on Finch Avenue West and (2) land. In fact, there's a lot of land available for development mixed with muffler shops, fast food restaurants and other businesses sporting typical suburban parking lots.

Emery Village, for those who don't know, is part of Ward 7 whose Councillor is Giorgio Mammoliti. Back in 2002, City Council approved the Emery Village Secondary Plan (pdf) which was later updated and included in Toronto's New Official Plan (pdf) that was approved in 2006. The plan was to establish long-term development of Emery Village and the surrounding area.

In 2009, three years after approval of the Toronto New Official Plan, Mammoliti wrote a letter (pdf) to Councillor Norm Kelly (who was chair of the Planning Growth and Management Committee) advocating for the following improvements:

  • New street connections that provide alternatives to travel through Finch Avenue West and Weston Road.
  • Access improvements for existing and future developments.
  • New/improved pedestrian crossing opportunities on Finch Avenue West and Weston Road.
  • Provision of improved cycling facilities in-keeping with the Toronto Bike Plan.
  • Accommodation of an LRT transit facility along Finch Avenue and/or the Hydro corridor and potential GO Rail service on the CP Rail line.

This letter was drafted less than three years ago but since that time there have been no drastic alterations to the geography of this particular stretch of Ward 7. Emery Village has essentially remained the same.

In examination of the Emery Village BIA Website, I found a series of concerns listed about this potential project. These include concerns regarding left-turn availability for heavier commercial vehicles, obstruction around the interchanges with the 400 series of highways, and the interruption of commercial traffic. These are valid concerns and there are calls for strategies to be developed to deal with them.

In consulting the original Transit City plans for the Finch LRT on the City of Toronto website, I found the following statement on how construction would proceed:

"Traditionally, the first step during construction of the surface sections is the relocation of utilities. Next, construction of the LRT would occur on one side of Finch Avenue while the other side would remain open to traffic. Once construction has finished, the work would switch to the other side of the street, and traffic would flow on the reconstructed side. When both sides have been completed, finishes would be applied to the shelters on the platforms at the stops, and lighting would be installed....The TTC is currently exploring alternate construction methodologies that may shorten the overall duration of construction and decrease the impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood."

If you examine the plans for the Finch LRT further, you'll note that the city wants to keep the same amount of traffic lanes for the stretch of Ward 7. You would assume, then, that in order to do so that would mean initiatives like widening the surrounding lanes (which is a challenging prospect, but it's doable).

No construction is ever easy, but this is not St. Clair West, and there is a lot more opportunity for development here. With apologies to any of the businesses or residences along Finch Avenue West in Ward 7, I'd argue that this is not exactly a prime destination for people at the moment (more a corridor to move through, than to stop in, for those taking the Finch West 36 Bus, or driving by car). The reality is that there is no subway option on the table. Emery Village is of a significant distance away from any connecting line - you would have to build a lot of stations to get there. This is reality.

Anyone believing that holding out for a subway to extend out to Emery Village in this lifetime is not looking out for the best interests of the area's residents. It is whispering fantasies into someone's ear that will not actualize into reality. To even suggest such a notion would be laughable if it were not so continually damaging to the historic transportation and infrastructure woes of Ward 7. When you are in favour of obstructing opportunities that would serve your community, you are failing those who elected you to office.

The question is, why is Giorgio Mammoliti himself no longer a supporter of the Finch LRT? This is something that would not only serve and ultimately benefit those passengers who rely upon the Finch West 36 bus (one of the worst routes in the city when it comes to massive overcrowding) but it would help revitalize the long-neglected area. The letter he signed less than three years ago speaks to how an LRT would be important to the overall development of Emery Village. This is what he believed and supported and fought for.

What changed, Giorgio?

This post has been contributed by Rahim Ladha who is a long-time resident of Ward 2.

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