The King Street pilot project is a go.
City council voted 35-4 to launch the plan to prioritize streetcar service on King Street this fall. The plan, devised by city planners, will dramatically change King between Bathurst Street and Jarvis Street with the goal of moving as many people as possible, quickly.
Some 180 parking spaces will be removed, while other vehicles on King will be forced to turn right at every intersection.
Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents one of the wards affected by the change, says change is "absolutely necessary" in this case.
Coun. Pam McConnell, whose ward contains the eastern portion of King Street that will be modified, also supports the plan but remains in hospital with a serious illness.
"Pam, if you're in hospital listening, we'll do this for you," Cressy said during his remarks.
Mayor John Tory moved a motion to allow a late-night exemption — from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — for licensed taxi cabs that passed 38-1. Tory said doing nothing to improve King Street isn't an option.
"Right now, that street is not working," Tory said.
The mayor vowed to keep an eye on the pilot project to see how it's affecting the surrounding area.
"We're going to measure this 19 ways from Sunday," he said.
Cab drivers and taxi companies have criticized the plan, suggesting it cut down on their ability to pick up passengers flagging down a ride on one of the city's busiest streets.
Some councillors also blasted the plan.
Coun. Stephen Holyday used the overhead projector to doodle on a diagram of the human heart, comparing King Street to one of the main arteries.
"And what happens when you close off the arteries?" Holyday asked council.
He blames the congestion on sheer volume, something the pilot won't change. His motion to derail the pilot project failed 6-33.
Coun. Jim Karygiannis says the city should have done more to consult with groups like the cab industry and suburban communities, who use King as a way in and out of the core.