King Street pilot project wins city council approval

The King Street pilot project is a go.

Council votes 35-4 in favour of plan, although suburban councillors still have concerns

The King streetcar will be king starting this fall, when the city launches a new pilot project to clear the way for public transit. (David Donnelly/CBC)

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.

The King streetcar is the busiest surface route in the entire city. (David Donnelly/CBC)

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.

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.