Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

High Park could be the latest battlefield in the Toronto war between cars and humans.

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High Park could be the latest battlefield in the Toronto war between cars and humans.

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The park is usually open to vehicles except on summer weekends (and during the cherry blossom season), but there is a movement underway to close the park to cars permanently.

Anyone driving to the area in hopes of parking nearby enters a twilight zone of car chaos. Bicycle paths on Bloor have reduced parking spaces, leaving visitors clogging nearby residential roads and reducing traffic in the area to a creep.

Both the metro and the tram go directly to the park.

Whether the anti-car folks win in High Park or not, the writing on the wall is: Toronto is not car-friendly.

It has not been car friendly for about 30 years.

That is not going to change.

Some days it seems that the traffic in this burg has never been worse (and some days it is the case, whether you are driving, walking or cycling.)

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Ongoing repairs, construction sites and major roadblocks make driving to hell in Toronto. When you get somewhere, there is no place to park.

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As Mayor John Tory has told the drivers, the responsibility is on you: you are the one controlling a steel gun, you can cause the most damage, and it’s up to you to be hyper-attentive.

Our roads are shared with pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and scooters, and lately it looks like with skateboards, roller skates, unicycles, pogo sticks and stilts.

Vision Zero has reduced driving speeds in the city, improved pedestrian crossings, added speed traps and generally helped to get cars to slow down.

Of course, cars are necessary for some things, but they no longer make sense in a 200-year-old city center like Toronto.

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If you get to the center, it’s time to get out of your car. Too bad the mayor’s plan to make toll roads to Toronto did not happen.

What does it take to make this transition work?

Improved public transportation, and it’s happening right now. Transit improvements will make ditching the car an easy choice for many residents.

Architect and transitdesdespecialist John Potter explains that people are going to start using transit differently, a change accelerated by the pandemic.

Transit is not just for work for the journey home, but it will make sense to get around the city for some reason.

Time and travel patterns have been changed by the pandemic, and in the future, hybrid office / homework models and staggered hours may even mean an end to rush hour as we knew it.

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Transit is the answer, Potter said in a recent interview, because on a planet with 9 billion people, individual transportation no longer makes sense.

Car manufacturing takes too much out of the planet, Potter said, and that is before you take into account all the pollution and environmental issues that come later.

“Cars use a lot of space, drive scattering and require paving of cities where asphalt absorbs and radiates heat. To accommodate cars, the streets become wider and the cities scattered.

“It all affects the planning of land use.”

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What is now required, Potter said, is a well-connected network that covers many communities, giving people more reasons to use transit.

“Much of transit was built to handle demand from home to business travel. It is evolving. Now it looks more like a network that has been spread across the city with more points for modal change.

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“There are many more connections between different modes of transport – and different services, such as bus to LRT to metro to GO.”

The systems will be interconnected so that people can just easily switch from one state to another, “and a harmonized ticket structure throughout the region will be transformative.”

Potter explained how the system changed, noting, for example, that the Go train was created to serve wealthy suburban commuters.

“But as it begins to connect to the metro and bus lines, it becomes part of a larger network and you get to see more people use it as part of their journey … It just becomes one of those modes , you spend on a trip in many ways. ”

Potter praises the virtues of the Ontario line, the Yonge subway extension, the Scarborough subway extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West extension, saying, “It’s really starting to happen.

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“There’s an explosion of transit, not just in the city, but across the GTHA.”

He reckons that transit here has been substantiated for close to 50 years. “Toronto is playing catch-up now. By 2030, there will be a robust and significant transit system in place throughout the region.

“This is a transformative era in Toronto.”

The city of Toronto together with TTC is doing tram and water change replacement as well as improvements to the BIA street scene on Queen St.  W., from Bay St.  to Fennings St.  (just before Dovercourt Rd.), Between July and December this year in eight phases (pictured) TTC tracks and jellyfish replacement in front of City Hall on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
The city of Toronto together with TTC is doing tram and water change replacement as well as improvements to the BIA street scene on Queen St. W., from Bay St. to Fennings St. (just before Dovercourt Rd.), Between July and December this year in eight phases (pictured) TTC tracks and jellyfish replacement in front of City Hall on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun / Postmedia Network

ALL THAT SOUND AND BREEDING IS CONSTRUCTION

No, you do not imagine things. The city is flooded with ongoing construction under COVID.

And it’s been noisier because of that.

When the pandemic hit, the province stepped in to repeal a Toronto statute that says building noise should be limited to the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays and nothing on Sundays and holidays.

When the statute was temporarily repealed, construction could go around the clock; sites could offer staggered hours to workers and reduce the number of people in the same place at the same time, thereby protecting their health.

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Despite the busy beaver appearance of the construction industry, it has been shut down three times during the pandemic: last spring, in January 2021 and in March 2020.

In April, Premier Ford closed all but significant projects as COVID numbers began to escalate again.

However, public sector infrastructure work and everything related to healthcare was allowed to continue.

These days, construction sites are popping up everywhere now that COVID seems to be declining; if nothing else, the good news is that they will be much quieter.

The Toronto noise statute was put back in place three days ago, on October 7th. Construction continues fast in the big city, but at least you do not have to listen to it all night.

There is a wealth of information on what is being built and where on the Toronto Current Construction Projects website.

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