Thursday, August 27, 2015

Advocacy in Action: Ramp to Lower Don Trail

It's coming! Success!

Remember our ongoing work on the Lower Don Trail? This struggle to access the Lower Don Trail will soon be a thing of the past!

First Attempt
In 2012-2013, when the City of Toronto commissioned a Master Plan for the lower Don Trail, public consultations were held. At that time we advocated for accessible ramps to the trail.  But when the final plan was released we were all disappointed to see that more staircases were proposed to access the Lower Don Trail at Gerrard Street East and Dundas Street East, but without including ramps to provide universal access.

Second Attempt
Not satisfied with the result, advocates from across the community came together. With Ward 30 Bike's Michael Halloway taking the lead.  We did some scouting, mesasuring, calculating, and sketching, and came to the conclusion that a ramp option is absolutely viable. Ward 30 Bikes authored the April 2014 report “Creating Accessible Connections: Ramps to the Lower Don Trail at Dundas and Gerrard,” which was endorsed by Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto Trails Working Group, Ward 28 Cycling Advocacy Group and Ward 29 Bikes. The Lower Don Trail project team reviewed the proposal and other community comments received. The project team unfortunately concluded that ramps could not be included in the project.

Third Times' the Charm
Still not satisfied, we took our concerns to our local councillor Paula Fletcher who in turn organized a site visit and then put in a formal request to the Parks and Environment Committee to reassess the accessibility issues.  Walk Toronto also submitted its own “Lower Don Trail Accessibility” report in August 2014. 

Paula Fletcher shares the good news at Bells on Danforth
And then we heard the good news.  In March 2015, the city confirmed that a budget had been allocated to make the pedestrian bridge at Riverdale Park fully accessible with a ramp! Paula officially made the public announcement in June at the Bells on Danforth ride, and the design consultation process is underway (yes, we are part of the design process!). If all goes to plan, we could have the bridge done by next year! Stay tuned for results of the design process and celebrations when it opens.

Thank you to all the advocates involved!  Ward 28 and Ward 29 bike advocacy groups, Cycle Toronto's Trails Working Group, Walk Toronto, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, the Riverside BIA and everyone in the community who voiced their support for accessible ramps.  

Get involved
Want to be part of projects like this?  Join us! Help bring positive change to the community, and positive improvements to our neighbourhood!   We meet the first Tuesday of every month at the Ralph Thornton Centre.

** note, this is a post I thought we'd published back in July, turns out it was still sitting in draft!  Oops... it's old news now, but it's still exciting news to share! **

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