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Alternate Yonge Street redesign

City staff's vision for Yonge Street reduces the roadway to four lanes and adds bike lanes and wider tree-lined sidewalks, but the public works committee voted for an alternate design on Tuesday. (City of Toronto)

The public works committee voted to go ahead with a more expensive redesign of Yonge Street in Willowdale, going against the recommendations of city staff, the local councilor and dozens of local residents.

Coun. Stephen Holyday's motion, placed on behalf of Coun. David Shiner, to defer to an alternate plan, which staff also considers viable, will now go to city council for a final vote in March. It's expected to cost at least $9 million more than the Transform Yonge plan city transportation staff support.

The majority of speakers at Tuesday's meeting voiced support for the staff-supported Transform Yonge plan, which includes removing two lanes of traffic to widen sidewalks and add bike lanes to about three kilometers of Yonge, between Florence Avenue and the Finch Hydro Corridor.

However, Mayor John Tory's opposition to Transform Yonge, mainly over concerns about traffic congestion, means that will be difficult.

Here are five key points from the staff report on the matter:

  • This section of Yonge was last rebuilt in 1975 and is now at the end of its lifecycle. Whatever change council approves is expected to last 50 years.

  • As of 2010, more people take transit, walk or cycle to the area than drive.

  • About 55,000 vehicles take Yonge between Sheppard Avenue and Highway 401 every day. An estimated 74 per cent of those drivers come from York Region.

  • The cheapest option, which is not recommended, is rebuilding Yonge as it is now. That would cost up to $29 million.

  • The Transform Yonge plan would remove 255 on-street parking spaces, but staff plan to add 330 new on-street spots on side streets and service roads to offset that

Concerns about removing lanes

Jeff Oulahen, a local resident, realtor and volunteer president of the Yonge At Hearts Childcare Centre, says he's concerned that traffic will be forced into local neighbourhoods. He also suggested the city hasn't done enough to figure out how

vehicles will be able to turn across the bike lanes.

Many local restaurants and shops are concerned the project will reduce parking for their customers, according to John Ko, the President of the Korean Canadian Business Association of North Toronto. The Transform Yonge plan would remove 255 on-street parking spaces, but staff plan to add 330 new on-street spots on side streets and service roads to offset that.

Sam Moini, who lives in the area and also represents the taxi industry, says slowing traffic would be declaring war on Willowdale families who rely on their vehicles to get around.

To get the latest on traffic visit: https://www.aaaexpressonline.com/trafficfeed

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