Pictured: Mayor John Tory rides down Yonge Street as part of the annual Bike to Work Day ride in 2016. Photo by Marlena Rogowska.
Update (March 28, 2018): City Council votes to defer a decision on REimagining Yonge
On Tuesday, March 27, after a full day of debate, Toronto City Council voted to defer a critical decision on the fate of REimagining Yonge. The deferral motion was designed to allow staff to come back with more information about the impacts to surface transit. As a result, REimagining Yonge is now poised to become an election issue this fall. Luckily, we have strong evidence and overwhelming support on our side. You can see how the Mayor and councillor voted here:
Knowing several councillors were going into the debate yesterday not having decided on which option to support, we worked with several partner organizations to prepare a REimagining Yonge Report Card to make the choice crystal clear. We strove to present a balanced case with 16 criteria, but still, Transform Yonge came out on top.
As we look ahead to the municipal election campaign we will continue to push hard on Transform Yonge: for better transportation options, for safer streets, and for a more liveable downtown North York.
Transform Yonge would bring a host of much-needed improvements for all road users: wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, trees, and outdoor seating to support a vibrant public realm. The alternative is essentially to keep Yonge St. as it is—a six-lane highway for cars—in favour of focusing on Beecroft Rd. which would result in a price tag $11-20 million heftier, depending on the configuration (e.g. sharrows instead of separated bike lanes on some sections of the roadway would reduce the cost).
Watch this video created by local advocate Chris Hoyle to find out why more than two thirds of speakers at PWIC including local residents, business owners, and community representatives support Transform Yonge.
With a Staff Report strongly recommending Transform Yonge as the best alternative, we think it is the clear path forward - but not everyone at City Hall supports it. That's why we need to keep working to demonstrate why this project would benefit everyone - residents, business owners, people working on Yonge, older residents, and youth.
Transform Yonge: Background
On Friday, January 12, City Staff released a report recommending Transform Yonge as the preferred option. This report strongly recommends that the project be approved from livability, economic vitality, mobility, and safety perspectives. Leading city-builders, residents' associations, road safety advocates, and the local councillor have spoken out in support of Transform Yonge as this is the only one of the proposed options that includes the kind of improvements sorely needed in North York. Here's why Transform Yonge is the right choice:
- A safer street for all road users. There have been 83 reported collisions between drivers and vulnerable road users in the study area since January 2010, a clear result of a roadway that is designed for motor vehicle traffic rather than people walking, riding bikes, and taking transit. We need wider sidewalks, shorter crossing distances, and protected bike lanes to prevent more traffic injuries and deaths.
- We'll get the most bang for our buck. This option would be eligible for both federal and provincial funding to cover a portion of the estimated $51 million cost. Alternatives would cost significantly more or not be eligible for federal and provincial infrastructure money. Putting off the necessary capital improvements indefinitely will only lead to higher costs down the road.
- It's good for business. Yonge St is identified as an employment centre in the City's Official Plan, yet the number of new businesses and jobs hasn't kept pace with an influx or residential units. The public realm improvements included in Transform Yonge would create a more attractive environment for local businesses to thrive.
- Impacts on motor vehicle traffic will be minimal. Detailed traffic modelling revealed an increase of just one minute in travel time on Yonge between Sheppard and Finch. Plus, travel behaviour is shifting from people driving to people taking transit (GO and TTC), ride-hailing, walking, and cycling. Transform Yonge would result in a street that accommodates this transportation mix.
What's Transform Yonge?
Transform Yonge is a visionary project for North York that would see a host of much-needed improvements: wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, trees, and outdoor seating to support a vibrant public realm and a safer roadway. According to the staff report released on January 12, these improvements would cost an estimated $51.1 million, with the potential to be funded partially using federal Public Transit Infrastructure Funds (PTIF). The alternative is to make only minor improvements to Yonge Street in favour of focusing on a service road, Beecroft Ave, which would cost $20 million more and represent a missed opportunity to revitalize North York’s central corridor when it is in dire need of reconstruction.
Transform Yonge is the only option that includes protected bike lanes in addition to a host of public realm improvements to accomodate a growing population and changing mobility patterns. In order to get Transform Yonge approved, we need to show the Mayor that we support this forward-thinking project that supports safety, liveability, and economic development, and falls in line with existing plans (like the 10-Year Cycling Network Plan and Official Plan which guides development city-wide).