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Blue Jays President wants road closures for cyclists scrapped

Mark Shapiro calls for ActiveTO program to be struck out

Photo by: @RogersCentre

Toronto Blue Jay’s big boss, Mark Shapiro  has weighed into the ongoing debate about the future of ActiveTO road closures for cars, and it ain’t good. Shapiro wrote a letter to Toronto city council leading up to their session on June 15. Council is meeting to discuss the road closures which have been taking place since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Several sections of roadways in Ontario’s capital were closed to vehicles in the summer months to allow cyclists, pedestrians and runners a safe place to get fresh air. One of them, the most popular section, on Lakeshore West, is a concern to the Jays boss as he believes it affects traffic en route to the Rogers Centre.

“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 in an open letter. “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.”

Cycling vs. baseball

Shapiro says that opening the ballpark for a full baseball season after two years away has been extremely meaningful to Jays fans and players, and an important part of Toronto’s pandemic recovery.

“We recognize ActiveTO played a crucial role in encouraging people to get outside and moving again, at a time when entertainment options were limited; however, the location of this program in 2022 drastically impacts fans’ ability to access the ballpark on summer weekends, when baseball is a main attraction in the city,” Shapiro wrote. “Many of our fans travel to Rogers Centre from outside of the GTA and taking public transit is not an option. Out-of-town fans are often not aware of ActiveTO and do not know how to allocate extra travel time.”

He concludes by reiterating that on the days when Active TO has been in effect on Lake Shore, the local fans have experienced significant transit delays because traffic is ground to a halt on all downtown routes.

“As a sports organization, we support folks getting outside and being active, but Toronto has many options and routes to use, whereas our fans do not. Please do not vote to close Lake Shore Boulevard West.”