Toronto agrees to clear snow from more sidewalks this winter
Toronto's sidewalk snow clearing process has long been lacking thanks to the fact that only sidewalks outside the downtown core actually get plowed by the city each year, but that's finally going to change.
As a result of a motion passed at city council on Thursday, Nov. 26, the City of Toronto will finally be clearing snow in parts of Old Toronto and East York this winter.
The decision came after city councillor Josh Matlow first introduced the "Clearing the Path Towards a Safe & Accessible Winter" motion earlier this year. Thousands of residents then sent letters, emails and signed a petition calling on the city to introduce an improved snow clearing plan.
Safe and Accessible Sidewalk Snow Clearing Motion Approved! – Thank you to Mayor @JohnTory, Councillor @m_layton, city council and the thousands of Torontonians who advocated for the success of this motion. We’re making progress! https://t.co/KYb9bGhTnI— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) November 26, 2020
The motion failed before the city's infrastructure and environment committee at the beginning of November, but city council was able to overrule that decision this week.
This is far from the first time that politicians, advocates and residents have called on the city to upgrade its snow clearing process. It is the first year, however, that Toronto is going to experience the winter season during a pandemic, so many have argued that sidewalk accessibility is more important than ever.
"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," reads Matlow's motion.
"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."
The city's excuse has long been that they simply don't have the proper equipment to plow the narrow sidewalks in these parts of Toronto, stating that "in older parts of Toronto, narrow sidewalks, obstructions and obstacles prevent plows from working safely."
As a result, sidewalks plows only clear about 5,785 km of Toronto's 7,029 km of sidewalks each winter.
But the motion approved by city council includes a recommendation to look into options for new equipment, rendering that argument less valid.
In addition to agreeing to improve snow clearing in Old Toronto and East York, snow removal will also occur on the ActiveTO pilot Destination Danforth bike lanes.
On top of that, the city will also find ways to plow more trails in parks to help residents stay active this winter.
Next steps for the snow clearing plan will see the general manager of transportation services report to the Toronto and East York community council on Dec. 2 with the list of streets that will receive sidewalk snow clearing during the 2020-2021 winter season.
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