Proposed redesign for portion of Yonge Street may be too complicated, city told
City held its 3rd public consultation on Yonge redesign, unveiled preferred design concept
A proposal to redesign a portion of Yonge Street downtown may be too complicated, city staff and consultants were told at a virtual meeting on Wednesday night.
The city held its third public consultation on what it calls "yongeTOmorrow," which is a proposed redesign of Yonge Street from College and Carlton Streets to Queen Street.
Peter Piet, who does urban design and landscape work for a consulting firm called Steer Group, told the meeting that the physical design of the street, such as width of the road, sidewalks and furnishings, would be consistent under the proposed revamp drafted by a design team.
"The street will actually look the same. Therefore, the physical design does not differ much from block to block. However, what does change from block to block is the operation — one way, two way, pedestrian priority," Piet said.
The proposal includes pedestrian priority zones with one-way driving access, on Yonge Street from Gerrard Street to Walton Street and Elm Street to Edward Street, and cycle tracks or bicycle lanes on Yonge Street from College Street to Gerrard Street.
Piet said the redesign is about changing the actual character of the street so that it no longer looks like a roadway.
One participant, who identified himself as a lawyer, said: "I get the impression, the way this is working out, is that it just will be way too complicated for people to understand how the street works."
He said the proposal may be "over-engineered."
Need for new water main prompts redesign
According to the city, a 100-year-old water main below the street needs replacing and the replacement presents an opportunity to redesign the iconic street.
Participants were told that the preferred alternative for Yonge Street Redesign is "Design Concept 4C," chosen after two rounds of public consultation.
The redesign will have areas dedicated to walking and cycling where motor vehicles would be restricted. The street would operate according to this plan from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Overnight, there would be two-way driving access for buses, cars and trucks on all blocks.
The concept also includes separate bicycle lanes on University Avenue from College Street to Adelaide Street.
Participants were also told that the city is gathering feedback on the proposed redesign, then city staff will report back to the city's infrastructure and environment committee in December. After that, there will be a 30-day public review and the proposal will be submitted to the Ontario ministry of environment, conservation and parks.
Among the concerns raised at the meeting were delivery truck access, accessibility for people with disabilities, and travel patterns. At least one participant said the redesign might be confusing for drivers.
City wants to improve ways people move through street
On its website, the city said it is studying ways to increase pedestrian space and improve the way people move through and experience that stretch of Yonge Street.
"Yonge Street is an iconic destination in the heart of downtown Toronto. Today, downtown Yonge Street is booming with development and high volumes of pedestrian activity," the city said.
Before the meeting, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, said in an interview that the current infrastructure along the portion of Yonge Street to be redesigned doesn't support the heavy foot traffic that is there now all year round, seven days a week.
"We have to replace the water main which is about 100 years old, but while we have Yonge Street open, while the critical infrastructure investment has to be made, would you want us to put that street back in the same configuration as the way we found it, as originally constructed in 1954?" she asked.
"We want to build a street for the 21st century that is going to be safe and inclusive for everybody."
With files from Greg Ross