News / Toronto

Pedestrian group criticizes complete streets delay

Public works committee requests further study on how to better protect the "silent majority."

Pedestrians and cyclists use Simcoe Street. Complete streets are "designed to be safe" for all road users, according to the City of Toronto.

Torstar News Service Order this photo

Pedestrians and cyclists use Simcoe Street. Complete streets are "designed to be safe" for all road users, according to the City of Toronto.

Toronto’s Public Works Committee asked city staff on Tuesday to study more ways to “protect the silent majority of users.”

The vote — and the wording of the “silent majority” request — drew criticism from pedestrian advocates who have followed the process for years.

Dylan Reid, the spokesperson for pedestrian advocacy group Walk Toronto, expressed disappointment in the committee’s decision, which sent the report back to the deputy city manager.

“The recommendations were the result of a long process with many stakeholders,” said Reid. He expressed frustration that the finalized report will see further delays for requests that he fears could undermine Toronto’s complete streets guidelines.

“The mention of ‘the silent majority’ is kind of perverse,” said Reid, who says it seems like a way to ignore the extensive evidence and consultations that support complete streets.

City staff started working on the complete streets guidelines in 2013 and consulted more than 80 stakeholder groups. More than 40 events were held to solicit public feedback.

Coun. Stephen Holyday, who moved the package of requests, told Metro that while he respects the city staff work on the guidelines, more needs to be done.

“I support the aspirational notion of complete streets,” he told Metro. But he added that “it’s a process that we’re just not finished” and needs more study on the practicalities.

As an example, he said, the proposed guidelines don’t reflect the Etobicoke street he lives on, and his neighbours would be upset if guidelines were implemented over their objections.

“I am not convinced that every street has to have a sidewalk,” he said, adding that with constrained space and competing transportation methods, the city must set priorities that reflect how the street is used.

  • According to the City of Toronto, complete streets are “designed to be safe for all users, such as people who walk, bicycle, take transit or drive and people of varying ages and levels of ability.”
  • One request that passed the committee 5–1 asked for “a decision-making framework and metrics that protect the silent majority of users and provide a balance between localized needs and desires.”

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