Here we are again talking about Speedvale Avenue. Two years ago the community spoke out strongly to not reduce lanes on this arterial road when reconstruction of the road, and replacement of the 65 year old bridge, begins in a couple of years. For me, it was important to maintain traffic flow, not interfere with the fire station or ambulances needing to get up Delhi to the hospital and to respect the amount of residential properties that would be impacted.
Those opposed at the time wanted to install unprotected bicycle lanes on Speedvale (which would reduce vehicular lanes). They maintained that it will help people using their bicycles to get to work and so on…
The thing was, at the time of that decision, my mind wasn’t about making the decision to ignore cyclists, it was about opportunities to make them safer.
We directed staff to explore an Emma to Earl Street bridge for cyclists and pedestrians, along with creating an Active Transportation Network while getting the city’s Trail Master Plan updated for both cyclists and pedestrians. These actions are important for some of the exact reasons stated by those upset when we didn’t put bicycle lanes on Speedvale – to keep people safe AND give them the ability to move around our city without a vehicle.
We did it hoping it would create a barrier free, continuous and safe trail for all to use with zero conflict with vehicles on Speedvale. Eliminating this conflict also helps with traffic flow! As an added benefit it would connect to the Trans Canada Trail.
Since this council direction our city staff have been exploring what it takes to build this underpass. Unfortunately, the staff recommendation came back to us this month indicating that there are many many “hurdles” to get this done, and in fact they’ve recommended us to stop trying to build it.
The full report outlining this is HERE starting on page 264.
The issues range from potential flooding, what defines as an active or a passive trail, accessibility issues and even bigger impacts that may have us go against our own city policies. Yikes!
I was disappointed to hear of these hurdles because this truly has been a citizen led initiative to get this underpass done, and it made a lot of sense to me. Council got on board and I believed we all truly thought it was going to happen.
Even though the staff recommendations stated:
Here’s my concluding thoughts on all of this:
Let’s get this built. I understand the hurdles, I acknowledge the work staff have gone into looking this through, but I think this can be done. We can do this! I think we all need to turn our knees under the table that we’re all sitting at together to find a way. That includes staff, council, consultants and most importantly our citizens! It’s what the community wants and it’s what I am hopeful for too!
Fingers crossed! See you November 6th!