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City of Toronto: the current ActiveTO program is probably mostly kaput

Councillors believe the time for the road closures has past

Toronto city council seems to be in favour of a new proposal that would limit the ActiveTO road closure program to a limited basis, going forward, The Toronto Star reported. Instead of a weekly event held on Saturday and Sunday, or just Sunday, the plan may be to have it as an occasional program.

Mayor John Tory had previously told CP24. that the program that closes roads for cars at various spots in Toronto for cyclists, runners and pedestrians, and it may be receiving an overhaul.

Politicians and advocates in cities all over the world pointed out the need for more pedestrian and cyclist accommodation, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Biking Lawyer responds to Blue Jays boss Mark Shapiro’s call to cancel #ActiveTO

On Wednesday, city hall held a debate, with Tory and other councillors discussing what lay ahead in the future for the road closures.

Despite the majority of those in at the meeting saying they liked the program, many ‘expressed broad agreement with transportation staff’s assessment, contained in a report released Wednesday morning, that with traffic surging to pre-pandemic levels and major events returning downtown this summer, the road closures can’t go ahead as they have in previous years.”

This follows an open letter by Blue Jays CEO, Mark Shapiro, which was sent to city councillors in anticipation of the meeting. ““I understand that my comments and the personal information in this letter will form part of the public record and that my name will be listed as a correspondent on agendas and minutes of City Council or its committees,” he wrote. “I am writing to request that you do not vote in favour of extending ActiveTO on Lake Shore Boulevard West. The Toronto Blue Jays are a major sports franchise that draw millions of fans to Rogers Centre every season. Given the unprecedented levels of construction and other diversions in downtown Toronto, removing one of the only ways into and out of the downtown core would be extremely challenging to our fans, who rely on these routes to attend our games.”

Barbara Gray, the general manager of transportation services said that volumes are now at about 90 to 95 per cent of 2019 volumes during peak times, and that the ActiveTO road closures have begun to have impacts on congestion. She cited the Lake Shore closure on May 23 saying that it increased drive times on the stretch of Gardiner Expressway from from 21 minutes to 39 minutes. On the other hand, the program also saw 17,000 cyclists riding.