Recapping the March 20th Infrastructure and Environment Committee Meeting

Alison Stewart at IECYesterday was an exciting day at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) for champions of active transportation, road safety and complete streets!

The agenda included the costs of the Gardiner East ‘hybrid’ project, winter snow clearance and maintenance of roads, extending the College Street bike lanes, and recommendations made within the Southwest Agincourt Transportation Connections Study. We would also like to acknowledge the collaboration and support of the Gig Workers United, TEA, TCAT, FFSS, AVCA, TCBC and Climate Fast

Our Acting Co-Executive Director Alison Stewart attended and deputed on five items. If you were unable to tune in to the meeting, you can follow these links to listen to her advocate for more equitable Bike Share pricing, an extension of the College Street bike lanes, and an inquiry into the amount of money being poured into the Gardiner East. There were a number of other wonderful advocates who spoke at the meeting, including Lyn Adamson from ClimateFast, Jess Spieker from Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and Gil Penalosa from 880 Cities. 

Here’s a recap of the items relating to active transportation, road safety and complete streets: 

1) Bike Share Toronto

Bikes with bike share toronto logos

By now, you have probably heard of the proposed pricing changes to the Bike Share Toronto program. The item was discussed at IEC on Monday, and we were happy to see that the Councillors were all receptive and eager to make the program more accessible and equitable. We now need your support to help us ensure that Council votes in favour of these improvements on March 29!  

Quick facts:

  1. Our calls for a more equitable approach were widely supported by Councillors Morley, Saxe, McKelvie, Colle, Bravo, and Carroll. They agree that Bike Share needs to be accessible to all users - no matter where they live or how much they’re able to pay.
  2. As a longstanding partner, we remain thankful to Bike Share Toronto for their success and dedication to building on an incredible program that is integral to supporting Toronto’s multi-modal future.
  3. The IEC has put forward the following recommendations to improve Bike Share’s fee structure:
    • The option to pay the annual memberships in monthly installments.
    • To reduce the proposed $.10 per minute fee to $.08 per minute
    • To include access to e-bikes with the low-income pass  
    • Direct the TPA to report back with a more equity based rate plan

2) Gardiner East Rehabilitation

Overview: A major point of debate at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting was the ongoing question of the Gardiner East rehabilitation project, which was approved back in 2016 and which continues to plague Toronto’s waterfront.  

We are in support of Councillor Matlow’s motion to request an inquiry into the status of the Gardiner East “hybrid” project cost. In 2016, this “hybrid” option was estimated to eventually cost the city over $1 billion, which represents 14% of the City’s 10 year capital plan. At the meeting on Monday, City Staff stated that this estimate has not been re-evaluated since 2016 to account for inflation or lifecycle costs. 

We heard from a number of powerful and compelling deputants, who all came together with a common refrain: Pouring money into an elevated highway is not reflective of the City’s climate action and transportation equity goals. 

Outcome: The IEC received this item for information only.

3) Extending the College Street bike lanes

college augusta by david keogh

Overview: The College Street bike lanes are currently being upgraded to protected cycle tracks, which is an exciting and important development–the lanes, however, are currently only slated to run from Manning Avenue to Bay Street. This item proposed an extension of these lanes west to Lansdowne Avenue. 

Councillors Saxe and Bravo recommended that “consultation be conducted with local residents, businesses and vulnerable road users so that the project’s design is informed by the needs of community, and to ensure that safety is improved, active transportation is promoted, and local businesses are supported.” 

Outcome: This item was adopted, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in the next Near-Term Cycling Network Implementation Plan. We will also be advocating for this project to be extended further east, and for other minor gaps in the corridor to be filled in to provide a safe and complete cycling connection across College St.

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4) Southwest Agincourt Transportation Connections Study

Overview: The city has been studying transportation connections from Village Green Square to Sheppard Avenue East and the Agincourt GO Station, and a recommendation has been made to improve the area’s transportation infrastructure. We would especially like to shout-out the Agincourt Village Community Association for their advocacy work on this item.

Outcome: This item was adopted by the IEC, and will be considered by City Council on March 29th. 

5) Winter Snow Clearance and Maintenance of Roads

Overview: This item was put forward by Councillors Saxe and Carroll, and requested that a review of snow clearance and winter maintenance of roads be performed. 

Road clearing is a huge undertaking that takes multiple rounds of salting and plowing. Having the same snow removal standards, however, for bike routes, car routes or sidewalks is neither acceptable or equitable. A safe environment for a 2-ton vehicle is not the same for someone on a bike, or someone in a wheelchair. If we want people and businesses to thrive all year long, we can’t treat cycling and pedestrian routes as secondary to vehicular traffic lanes.

Outcome: This item was amended to include “TTC Stops” to the review of winter maintenance services by Councillor Morley, and was adopted.

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