Review: July 7th Infrastructure and Environment Committee Meeting

Cycle Toronto Advocacy Forum 2020

The last Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) meeting took place yesterday (July 7) and had an agenda packed with cycling and complete street projects on the agenda! Read on to see what infrastructure projects were debated and passed.


  • IE31.12: Cycling Network Plan
    • Martin Grove Road Cycling Connections
    • Renewing Overlea Boulevard
    • Gerrard Street Complete Street Project
    • EglintonTOday
  • IE31.11: Mid Humber Gap
  • IE31.13: Port Lands Flood Protection
  • IE31.17 Update on Electric Vehicle Strategy Implementation
  • IE31.14 Broadview Avenue Extension Environmental Assessment
  • IE31.19 Amendments - Bartlett-Havelock-Gladstone Cycling Connections 
  • IE31.14 Broadview Avenue Extension Environmental Assessment 
  • IE31.16 Update on Planned Improvements to the York Beltline Trail and Kay Gardner Beltline Trail
  • IE31.10 Yorkdale Transportation Master Plan

IE31.12: Cycling Network Plan

Cycling Network Plan, courtesy of the City of Toronto

While the updated Cycling Network Plan covers some great projects that advance our various campaign objectives, it represents just 3.33 of new centre line kilometres - as well as a few improvements to existing bike lanes. These proposed new lanes and improvements represent progress,and we applaud the efforts and work that have been made by Transportation Services and our civic leaders over the past few years. There is, however, a long road ahead to achieve the 100km of new bike infrastructure the City committed to achieving by 2024 and beyond. The good news is that all recommendations outlined below were approved by IEC (with some additional motions), and will be taken to Council for final approval on July 19th and 20th. 

City Staff indicated that given their resources, they anticipate implementing between 15 and 20 km of new bike lanes by 2022, with the possibility that some projects spill over to 2023. 

In one of our deputations we pointed out that the city must apply an equity lens to all its programs, policies and projects. This includes Vision Zero and the Cycling Network Plan, and as such, requested the city be more intentional and clear about the necessity and reasons why reimagining all of our streets with Complete Streets guidelines should be a requirement. There is much resistance directed at any kind of cycling infrastructure, and cyclists in general. We see this play out through debate in stakeholder and public consultations, at IEC and City Council. We also see this resistance play out dangerously on our roads. People in principle all love the idea of bike lanes, but always seem to find reasons why their development, neighbourhood or Ward simply can’t, or shouldn't have them.

We called on the city to be unequivocal about the fact that bike lanes are part of our future. Period. Any new development or rebuilding of a road must automatically include a Complete Street configuration as a starting point. Just as we were able to reimagine and design our roads to accommodate private vehicles over all other modes of transportation, we are able to reimagine our roads to be safer and more sustainable,and we need to find a way to speed up the process. Our new normal needs to include healthier, more sustainable and affordable options for people to get around.

Read on for specific details about the various items within the Cycling Network Plan Update. 

1) Martin Grove Road Cycling Connections

Plan for Martin Grove Rd and Eglinton Ave intersection, courtesy of the City of Toronto

The final proposed design for improvements to Martin Grove Rd between Eglinton Avenue West and Dundas Street West was presented at IEC for approval. The City is looking to fill in the gaps between the existing and approved painted bike lanes with higher quality protected bike lanes and traffic calming measures. Cycle Toronto supported these infrastructure updates, and advocated to see Vision Zero principles applied to existing and proposed bike lanes on Martin Grove road that creates a safer space for all road users. 

Read more about the Martin Grove Cycling Connections project on the City’s website here.

2) Renewing Overlea Boulevard

Rendering of Overlea Bridge, courtesy of the City of Toronto

The plan to reconstruct the Overlea Bridge and the Don Mills Road intersection was also discussed in the IEC meeting, with recommendations including widening sidewalks, introducing new bike lanes, and adding safety features to the Overlea Bridge. Cycle tracks are proposed on Overlea Boulevard and on Gateway Boulevard - there would be dedicated space for people cycling to cross and wait, with physical separation continued to the intersection. This is a rare instance of a project being able to accommodate all road users without necessitating reducing vehicular traffic lanes. 

City staff have done a great job providing options that meet the needs of all users, and have out forward  recommendations that prioritize what the local residents want. The work is proposed to be delivered in two phases: 

  • Phase 1: Don Mills Road and Overlea Boulevard/Gateway Boulevard intersection 
  • Overlea Boulevard to Thorncliffe Park Drive (east), including the Overlea Bridge

We are happy to see this project being moved forward with the proposed safety and infrastructure upgrades, which will benefit all road users, local residents, and students commuting in the area. 

Representatives from the Women’s Cycling Network, Don Valley Midtown Cyclists and local residents, including a recent high school graduate from Marc Garneau deputed on this item. They called for greater traffic calming measures, better connectivity to existing transit hubs and infrastructure north and south of Overlea Blvd, as well as connections to existing bikeways in the neighbourhoods. 

3) Gerrard Street Complete Street Project

Changes to Gerrard Street are being proposed to improve safety and accessibility for all road users: 

  1. Installation of NEW bi-directional cycle tracks on Gerrard Street East from Parliament Street to Blackburn Street 
  2. Improvements to existing bike lanes on Gerrard Street East from Sherbourne Street to Parliament Street 
  3. Improvements to the Shuter Street and River Street intersection by upgrading bicycle lanes to cycle tracks with added separation from traffic on Shuter Street (Sumach Street to River Street) and River Street (Wascana Lane to Shuter Street)

It is great to see a Complete Street project being realized on an important east-west  street such as Gerrard Street East. As a next step, we would also like to see an extension of this vision east of the Don Valley, upgrading infrastructure all along this major road.

4) EglintonTOday

As the completion of the Crosstown LRT on Eglinton Avenue nears, the eglintonTOday Complete Street Project has begun. Significant progress has been made since we launched our Eglinton for Everyone campaign — protected bike lanes are proposed for the entire length of Phase 1 (Keele Street to Mt Pleasant Road)! 

EglintonTOday was included on the IEC agenda as a status update. The EglintonTOday project was approved back in 2014, but the recent completion of segments of cycle tracks that Metrolinx built in front of the new LRT stations, paired with the beginning of public consultations about the project, all while Eglinton remains an ongoing mess of construction alarmed residents who live along Eglinton Ave. Councillor Colle did a great job of speaking to the traffic chaos that his and Councillor Matlow constituents have been dealing with. In addition to an intense level of construction, those who live along Eglinton Ave W have been living with the spillover effect of having their streets choked with traffic paired with cars routinely driving recklessly in their community. He put a motion forward specifically calling for more consultations. 

We are pleased that consultations will continue, and we are confident that city staff will find a solution that makes the recommended plan work for all road users. This said, we’re calling on the City to find a way to implement all the proposed improvements in 2023, and not leave a gap between Mount Pleasant Road and Brentcliffe Road. Our recommendation is to expedite the transformation of Eglinton Avenue into a Complete Street that includes reimagining the road space using the 'quick-build' materials that they have used for the success of Destination Danforth and the Midtown Yonge Compete Street. 

IE31.11 Mid Humber Gap

Rendering of Mid Humber Gap Trail, courtesy of the City of Toronto

The Mid Humber Gap refers to an 800 metre (m) gap in the Humber River Trail between Crawford-Jones Memorial Park to the north, and the Mallaby Park to the south. The recommended design consists of an asphalt 4 m wide multi-use trail, including two pedestrian-cycle bridges and an elevated boardwalk.  

Image of proposed updates to the Mid Humber Gap, courtesy of City of Toronto

Councillor Perruza iterated his long standing support for this project. As a cyclist and commuter, he, like many other people who enjoy the trail not just because of the beautiful trail that follows the Humber Valley, but because it connects people to where they want to go. If approved by City Council, City Staff will move forward with the proposed designs and be presented for implementation. 

IE31.13: Port Lands Flood Protection

As per the IEC report, Transportation Services reccomended the authorization of a series of bike lanes on Commissioners Street and Cherry Street. Cycle Toronto supports this plan and is also recommending the following additions:

  • Use of jersey barriers to protect cyclists from the large construction trucks frequenting the area
  • Ongoing monitoring of the drainage along the roadway to ensure that the cycle tracks are safe and clear of any excess dirt or pooling water
  • Inclusion of wayfaring signage that communicates the detour route for cyclists

IE31.17 Update on Electric Vehicle Strategy Implementation

Because the city’s Electric Vehicle Strategy needs to align with the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy, Cycle Toronto supports the city’s transition to EVs. With the caveat that an equity lens must guide the roll out of this transition and that the push for EVs does not have an adverse impact on the equitable access to active modes of transportation and mobility. 

Cycle Toronto put forward our support for the transition to EVs, but not at the expense of improving and expanding our network of bike lanes and cycle tracks. We advocated for:

  1. Transportation Services to review the streets slated to receive on-street electric vehicle charging stations and make recommendations on where painted bike lanes or sharrows could be upgraded to protected bike lanes in coordination with station implementation. 
  2. That the roll out of public EV charging stations will not impinge on existing or future installations of bike lanes and cycle tracks.
  3. That the City's Electric Vehicle Working Group responsible for the Electric Vehicle file include e-bikes and other electric microbility devices;
  4. That any cost subsidies being implemented for users of electric vehicles be expanded to all vehicles including bikes, e-bikes and microbility devices that contribute to moving people away from vehicles that rely on fossil fuel usage.

Councillor Layton made a successful motion that supports our first three recommendations. The fourth one will be addressed through TransformTO.

IE31.14 Broadview Avenue Extension Environmental Assessment

Preferred block design of the Broadview Avenue Extension, courtesy of the City of Toronto

Cycle Toronto is supportive of staff recommendations to further improve and expand Toronto’s connected bike network by implementing a Complete Street configuration as part of the construction of the province’s Transit Oriented Community (TOC) that will be built in the Portlands and which will serve GO Transit, TTC streetcars, and the future Ontario Line, as well as a large employment and residential development. It is promising to see the efforts being made to connect this new East Harbour development to the existing bike network which will contribute to making cycling a viable option for people living and working in this new development. These recommendations reflect a desire to increase the safety of vulnerable road users while fostering sustainable development and encouraging mixed modal and active transportation options.

Cycle Toronto strongly supports the City of Toronto staff’s recommendations to:

  1. Upgrade the existing segment of Broadview Avenue by implementing Complete Street configuration, between Eastern Avenue and Queen Street East.
  2. Extend Broadview Avenue from Eastern Avenue to Lake Shore Boulevard within Complete Street guidelines.
  3. Reduce the turning radius of the existing Eastern Avenue on-ramp to the Don Valley Parkway which will make this intersection much safer by calming traffic.

IE31.19 Amendments - Bartlett-Havelock-Gladstone Cycling Connections 

This cycling connection represents an important alternative to people seeking a safe north-south passage in the area. We believe that connections such as this one should become the new normal for safe neighbourhood connections, that encourage more people to get on their bikes; Shaw street, with similar designs, proved to be one of the most successful cycling connections in the city; there were more bikes than cars traveling on that street! 

This cycling route within a residential neighbourhood does not, however, meet the needs of cyclists who would like to ride along Dufferin Street, which is a key north-south corridor that connects people to schools, shops and transit. In its current form, Dufferin Street is a road that is dangerous by design and in urgent need of being reimagined within the city’s Complete Street guidelines. 

IE31.16 Update on Planned Improvements to the York Beltline Trail and Kay Gardner Beltline Trail

Cycle Toronto is fully supportive of staff recommendations to further improve and expand Toronto’s connected bike network, making cycling a viable option for everyone in Toronto by connecting the downtown core to the inner suburbs. These recommendations reflect a desire to increase the safety of vulnerable road users while fostering sustainable development and economic recovery for Toronto’s businesses as they recover from a challenging two years. By adopting equitable transportation options for everyone, Toronto is helping some of our most vulnerable residents gain access to a range of opportunities.

Cycle Toronto strongly supports the City of Toronto staff’s recommendations to:

  • Continue the midtown Yonge complete street pilot evaluation to July 2023. Preliminary data suggest that the pilot is achieving its goals. Additionally, we are calling on you to connect the Midtown Yonge Complete Street pilot to Eglinton Avenue. This is a crucial connection to make as the new LRT line and complete street along Eglinton are completed this year and would provide safe cycling access to the thousands of residents and jobs found at the major residential and employment hub at Yonge-Eglinton. There are also many local businesses between Davisville and Eglinton that would benefit from the complete street’s improved CafeTO patios and parking/delivery access.
  • Continue the Bayview Ave (River St to Front St East) ActiveTO pilot to July 2023 as a safe detour for people walking and cycling along Bayview as the popular Lower Don Trail is closed for maintenance. 

IE31.10 Yorkdale Transportation Master Plan

Cycle Toronto strongly supports the City of Toronto staff’s recommendations to:

  1.  Establish Yorkdale Mall as a multi-modal transit hub by improving services, operational reliability and access to Toronto Transit Commission and GO Transit;
  2. Improve active transportation connections to promote walking and cycling;
  3. Design streets to safely accommodate all users;
  4. Improve access to and from municipal expressways and provincial highways while protecting for the safety of all users; 
  5. Improve streetscapes and the public realm which are consistent with the future vision for the area.
  6. Improve the transportation network including mobility hubs, two pedestrian and cycling bridges, a Dufferin Street transit priority lane, two-way bus service on Yorkdale Road, retention and expansion of the GO Bus Terminal at Yorkdale Mall, a modified Allen Road northbound on-ramp to westbound and eastbound Highway 401, and the extension of Caledonia Road under Highway 401

Making cycling a more viable option for everyone in Toronto by connecting the downtown core to the inner suburbs is key to building a more sustainable and equitable city. The recommended solution being proposed for the future of the area marked by Yorkdale Mall represents an important investment in providing a more efficient, sustainable and positive  environment for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. We are also pleased that this project supports the City’s Cycling Network Plan.

By Maggie Crawford on Jul 08, 2022

  TOPoli, ONPoli, IEC, cycling advocacy, advocacy