Toronto

Cycling advocates upset project for bike lanes in North York delayed

Mayor John Tory's executive committee has put the brakes on a development plan for a section of Yonge Street in North York that would add more space for cyclists and pedestrians.

Cycle Toronto worries the whole plan will die

An artist's rendering of a plan to transform Yonge Street that Cycle Toronto would like to see become a reality. (Re-Imagining Yonge Street, City of Toronto)

Cycling advocates are worried after Mayor John Tory's executive committee put the brakes on a plan for a section of Yonge Street in North York that would add more space for cyclists and pedestrians.

The committee voted to delay funding that would be used to plan the development of a 2.1 kilometre stretch of Yonge Street from Sheppard Avenue north to Finch Avenue.

"I was shocked. It was completely unexpected," said Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto.

Cycle Toronto's Jared Kolb called it a 'bad use of money' to defer the development plan for the section of Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue. (Lorenda Reddekopp, CBC News)

Kolb said his group is one of several community organizations working on this project for the past year and a half. He noted that the plan is not just about adding bike lanes, but re-designing the street for cars and pedestrians as well, to reflect population changes and increase safety.

"A deferral now is just a bad use of money," said Kolb, since the federal government has already chipped in half the $4 million.

Coun. David Shiner, who represents Ward 24, Willowdale, brought forward the motion to hold off on the plan, called Re-Imagining Yonge Street 

Shiner worried parking spots will be lost 

He said it makes no sense to spend money on it now, especially when the project only involves a small section of Yonge Street, with no bike lanes north or south of that area.

He called it "extremely dangerous" for cyclists north and south of this section.

And that was not his only concern. 

"You're taking out all the parking on the street for all the stores that have their businesses there ... All the ones I spoke to have never heard of this proposal." 

Mayor John Tory's office said it would be 'premature' to fund the project. (John Rieti/CBC)

Mayor John Tory's office released a written statement noting that city staff have not yet completed a final report on the project.

"The Mayor believes allocating this funding now would be premature," the statement reads. "This project will be considered under the 2018 budget process at which point Council would have seen a report with recommendations and voted on the project."

Cycle Toronto said it's planning to lobby councillors before next week's city council meeting, hoping to get the delay reversed.

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