Toronto

City poised to redevelop Etobicoke's 'spaghetti' junction

Major changes are coming to the traffic tangle at the heart of Etobicoke's Six Points neighbourhood, and parents say they can't come soon enough.

Design, welcomed by area parents and councillor, to better serve pedestrians

A pedestrian walks along the Dundas Street West overpass, one of the roadways that will be levelled during the redevelopment of Etobicoke's Six Points neighbourhood. (John Rieti/CBC)

Major changes are coming to the traffic tangle at the heart of Etobicoke's Six Points neighbourhood, and parents say they can't come soon enough.

Julia Gussmann, walking on a narrow strip of sidewalk next to six lanes of fast-moving traffic on Dundas Street West, said there's no safe way to cross most of the roads in the area. Sometimes, she just risks it.

"You just have to wait for a gap and run across and pray that you make it alive," she told CBC Toronto.

When she's walking with her 10-year-old son, however, she avoids the area completely.

The intersection — dubbed a "spaghetti" junction by some and Toronto's worst by others — exists where Bloor Street West, Kipling Avenue and Dundas Street West converge.

The city hopes to simplify this massive interchange, while also making it more pedestrian friendly. (Google)

A city plan that's been in the works for over a decade will level the Dundas and Bloor bridges in favour of ground-level intersections, while also eliminating several on- and off-ramps. There will also be more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks as well as bike lanes.

The city plans to demolish the roads in stages and will begin the work as soon as it finds a contractor, which is expected to happen in March.

Councillor wants to create a downtown in Etobicoke

"Not making it happen is not an option," said local Coun. Justin Di Ciano, who expects tens of thousands more people to move into his ward in the coming years as condo developers keep building new towers there.

By 2020, when the second phase of the redevelopment is finished, Di Ciano said the Six Points interchange will have an urban, pedestrian-friendly feel, befitting of the neighbourhood he wants to become Etobicoke's downtown core.

Expect plenty of construction in the Six Points in the next four years, as the spaghetti junction gets straightened out. (John Rieti/CBC)

However, Di Ciano said he understands those who are skeptical that this will get done. He acknowledges that residents have seen nothing change after years of study, and several developments that were announced for the area never materialized.

"How long can you talk and promise something without doing a damn thing?" he said.

"They're tired of hearing about it and just want to see action … that's my number one priority."

Di Ciano said a community centre and park is also planned for the land where the Westwood Theatre once stood. The councillor said he's hoping the space will bring people together for festivals and other community events.

Will Six Points really look like this?

A city rendering released as part of the Six Points redevelopment plans shows far wider sidewalks than currently exist. Bike lakes and street furniture will also be added. (City of Toronto)

Errico and Stephanie Giordano moved to the area three years ago, before their two young daughters were born. Playing in Six Points Park, which has a view of cars and trucks swooping from Dundas onto Kipling, Errico said he's seen some of the renderings for the project.

"I wonder how close it's going to get to that," he said.

The Giordanos said logistically, their neighbourhood is perfect thanks to its easy connection to the TTC and GO Transit, but figuring out how to the navigate the roads is difficult.

"They just need to fix it up a little bit," Stephanie said, adding her friends frequently get lost when they come to visit.

Walking is another story. Errico said he carefully plans his routes when he's out with his daughter and her stroller, but still winds up going "off-roading" over the grassy islands amid the area's smaller roads like Viking Lane and St. Albans Road.

Prepare for construction

Drivers will have to pay attention during the construction phase, as their routes will likely be altered at some point. (John Rieti/CBC)

Di Ciano said he anticipates some delays for people moving through the area during the construction process, but said the city will notify residents about every closure.

"There's no doubt there will be disruptions," he said.

The city has also been speaking with local businesses to let them know what to expect.

About the Author

John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.

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