Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ward30 Planning Matters Open House - Ward30bikes was there

Last week Councillor Paula Fletcher and her office hosted a Planning Matters Open House.  The open house included representatives from the city, and local developers to speak about the on going and planned projects for our ward.  Portlands, Broaview Ave extension, Downtown relief line, the fate of the Gardiner, new condo developments - all there in one room.

It was a great community information night, and gave residents the opportunity to ask questions  and make suggestions directly to the people working on these projects.

And Ward30bike was there!  Questioning the plans, reiterating the desire for safe cycle infrastructure to the waterfront (had a great chat with the city planner about the Broadview Ave extension plans and getting access to that little Ward30 jewel Cherry Beach), bike parking along Queen St, and cycle connections across the DVP.    It was also great to see that Councilor Fletcher's office invited a familiar face from the City of Toronto cycling department.  When you get all these people in one room you can hear things like:  '...well we would want to work with the city on that bike lane connection' ' ... so you mean me?' and friendly laughter.

Aside from what we were advocating, it was nice to hear so many residents also express their desires for cycling infrastructure incorporation into these projects.  On the positive, Streetcar developments has in their plans underground weather protected bike parking for residents of their condos. Streetcar also has some ideas on their presentation board for building multi-use connections to some new (to be developed by the city) park space nestled around the DVP eastern Ave pocket (like a smaller version of Corktown Common). They had some big ideas up on their board including a new pedestrian / cycle bridge connection across the dvp parallel to Eastern Ave. The reality (and funding!!) of such an ambitious idea remains to be seen, but when they dream, they dream in fully accessible urban planning.

A note for councilor, I would encourage that funding and implementing these multi-use connections, parklands and greenery be conditional on any development permits.  As one resident that night said, it would be a tragedy for our neighbourhood if this development took shape like the "ghetto-ized" concrete Liberty Village.

Speaking of Liberty Village, overheard was a few residents expressing concern of the potential congestion on the Queen Streetcar line that could result from all the planned condo development.  Definitely a concern that Queen could become the new King Streetcar.  The city of Toronto's planning department representative confirmed that they are running traffic studies for the area, so it's a start.

Finally a note of shame on the presentation of the former Jilly's landmark.  I wish I caught a photo of the Streetcar Developments presentation board that showed Queen Street with a fully redeveloped Jilly's. The street scene showed 2 streetcars slinking down the middle of the road.  On the north side two cyclists pedaled joyously. On the south side a carefree jogger crossed the street, with their delightful golden retriever in tow.  Pedestrians lined the streets casually walking and enjoying this car free utopia.

I questioned the developer.  'Are you proposing that Queen East become car free? '  'Oh no.  Hmm, you know developers... we'll get that picture changed'.

Looks so much like this:  designing nice streets is easy when you pretend cars do not exist

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