More sidewalks are coming to Toronto, despite opposition
The Missing Sidewalk program aims to bring sidewalks to residential neighbourhoods without them
City staff are hoping to reduce the number of residential streets without sidewalks, in part, in the name of accessibility.
On average, about one in four residential streets in Toronto are without sidewalks.
"I think a lot of roads were built in the 1950s and 1960s when the car was king," said Fiona Chapman, the city's manager of pedestrian projects.
The city is reconstructing many of those streets in the near future and will look to add at least one sidewalk on one side of streets that currently don't have sidewalks on either side. It's a part of what's called the Missing Sidewalk program.
Chapman will be presenting this plan to the Disability, Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee on Tuesday.
Torontonians oppose sidewalks?
The plan for sidewalks is not without opposition, surprisingly.
Even though the city has identified neighbourhoods that need sidewalks, it has been nearly impossible to put them in.
"If you've had your house for a long period of time and it's had no sidewalk, this is change, and you might be concerned about some trees, landscaping or your parking," she said. "There are all sorts of reasons people say, 'I don't want that sidewalk added.'"
Currently, if the city wants to install a sidewalk, it must go through the local councillor for the area. He or she must complete a consult of the neighbourhood about who supports a sidewalk and who doesn't.
"The answer is almost always no. Largely, they just can't get a consensus in the community."
From an accessibility viewpoint, though, the city passed legislation which dictates it must remove barriers to accessibility. A barrier to accessibility is a street without a place for a pedestrian to walk.
So with the Missing Sidewalk program, the street will be dug up during reconstruction, and sidewalks will be added in most cases regardless of opposition.
"This is the right thing to do," said Chapman. "And it's also the legal thing to do."