high park cars banned

Someone wants cars to be allowed in a Toronto park because suburbanites

A petition has been started by the former director of a Toronto community organization urging the city to end its weekend ban on cars in High Park in the wake of a city-led survey that contemplates making the closures permanent.

Diane Buckell, the former director of the Friends of High Park Zoo, is rallying motorists to fight the city's ongoing restriction on cars entering the park, arguing that it violates High Park's 1873 dedication pledge that the park "must be for the free use, benefit and enjoyment of all citizens."

Buckell's petition, titled "Keep High Park Open to Vehicles," states that "When COVID was at its height, with gatherings banned and stores and facilities shut down, closing High Park to vehicles on weekends and enabling people to social distance, was a great and successful concept."

The petition states that once restrictions were lifted, "High Park, closed to cars, became a ghost park. Busy during the week when cars are allowed in, but almost deserted on weekends."

Despite the presence of two subway stations (including accessible entrances at Keele) and cycling infrastructure readily available to those willing to use them, Buckell contends that "with the park closed to cars, and very limited parking on local side streets, families may have to park up to 2-3k from the park itself and walk on pavements to reach the park."

She adds that"Once in the park, [visitors] have to be able to walk 4-5km to enjoy the venues."

It's an odd statement, as nobody is forcing families to pack into a station wagon like it's 1980s suburbia when there are transit options available.

As for the "4-5km to enjoy the venues" part, it's hard to determine where Buckell ascertained this sketchy information, as an end-to-end walk on the park's longest path between Bloor Street and The Queensway is only 1.77 kilometres in length. Even a round trip on this path would fail to crack the 4km mark.

Because, yes. I measured.

It's this supposedly extreme distance from streets to park attractions that Buckell uses to make this petition seem like it's about inclusivity, and not a planet-killing, outdated way of life that suburbanites stubbornly cling to, hands on their steering wheels like Nero to his fiddle as the world around them burns.

The petition reads, "should a decision be made to close the roads, access to the natural beauty of the park and its many venues would be restricted to the able-bodied and fit. Access for people with disabilities, aged, very young, or even just sprained tendons, would not be possible."

And in case this wasn't already framed as a "drivers versus the rest of the city" struggle, Buckell takes specific aim at a group of cyclists who took over the park in response to a recent police speeding blitz aimed at riders.

This must have been a step too far for Buckell, depriving motorists of their convenient, climate-controlled commute through a public space (the horror) — and, in her own words, "are working hard to have the park closed to cars so the centre road circle can be used as a training track."

As of writing, the petition has 944 signatures with a goal of 1,000. But cycling advocates are not pleased with the campaign.

A few have spoken out against the petition, arguing that parks can indeed be made accessible for people with mobility issues and senior citizens without putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk of injury or death.

Buckell's argument that cyclists exceeded speed limits and ignored stop signs during the recent takeover would hold a bit more merit if it weren't for this video showing 28 out of 30 vehicles running a High Park stop sign in the span of ten minutes.

She closes her petition with the request that respondents "email Councillor Gord Perks, 311 and the Mayor to let them know how you feel."

I have a feeling that voices in the cycling and pedestrian communities may also heed this call.

Lead photo by

Martin Reis

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