Toronto

As city blocks off additional roads for ActiveTO, residents, drivers adjust to closures

The city closed additional roads on Saturday as part of its ActiveTO plan, resulting in a traffic jam along Lake Shore Boulevard and mixed reaction from Toronto residents. 

Traffic jam on Lake Shore Boulevard Saturday a result of ActiveTO, police say

Toronto police say a traffic jam on Lake Shore Boulevard West on Saturday was a result of the city's recently-implemented ActiveTO plan. Cars were seen attempting to reverse out of the on-ramp of the major downtown Toronto road. (@BPakaFT/Twitter)

The City of Toronto closed additional roads on Saturday morning as part of its ActiveTO plan which police said resulted in road congestion along Lake Shore Boulevard and mixed reaction from Toronto residents. 

One Twitter user posted a video of the traffic jam on Saturday afternoon from a balcony near Palace Pier court and Lake Shore Boulevard West. 

In a Tweet on Saturday, Toronto police responded saying the congestion was a result of ActiveTO, which involves creating 57 kilometres of "quiet streets" to promote outdoor activity while maintaining physical distancing measures.

On Thursday, the city closed the following streets: 

  • Kensington Market, in the area that borders Nassau Avenue, Spadina Avenue, Augusta Avenue and Dundas Street West. 
  • Shaughnessy Boulevard between Van Horne Avenue and Havenbrook Boulevard.
  • Havenbrook Boulevard between Shaughnessy Boulevard and Manorpark Court.

On Saturday, the city closed the following additional roads, which will be blocked off until Monday at 11 p.m., in anticipation of crowding outdoors during Victoria Day Weekend: 

  • All eastbound lanes on Lake Shore Boulevard West between Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. 
  • Bayview Avenue from Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road. 
  • River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue.

The streets are still open to local traffic, runners, walkers, and bikers, the city says. 

Some residents say closing off the streets will help Torontonians stay active and safe during the pandemic. 

"It's a really good idea to try to make some paths. Some of those routes get extremely crowded," Toronto resident Nick Wellington told CBC Toronto Friday. 

Others don't seem as sure of the new plan. 

One resident said more signs are needed to ensure only local traffic gets through the closed streets. 

Others expressed concern over the ability for residents to follow physical distancing measures while using the space. 

'More and more people' 

Valerie Zholobova, who lives in the Kensington Market area where streets have recently been blocked off, said she has already noticed a difference.

"Three weeks ago, there was no one in this park," she told CBC Toronto on Friday. 

"Now on sunny days, there's more and more people." 

Others seem to agree, taking to Twitter to ask Toronto Mayor John Tory to make the plan permanent. 

 

ActiveTO is about safety, mayor says

In a statement to CBC Toronto, Tory said the project is about making sure people have space to get around the city safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"ActiveTO represents both a quick start and a common sense approach to managing areas where there is bike and pedestrian congestion right now," Tory said in the statement Saturday. 

"I am pleased to hear that people are outside taking advantage of this new initiative on this beautiful Saturday of the May long weekend." 

Tory said residents have been "cooperative" during the implementation process, adding that the city will monitor the plan's effectiveness and will make changes as necessary. 

Details on expanding the cycling network, another leg of the plan, will be released next week, Tory added. 

WATCH | Map details ActiveTO road closures across the city 

Watch to see a map of roads that will be closed as part of ActiveTO.  0:31
 

When asked about complaints from Toronto residents, city spokesperson Eric Holmes told CBC Toronto closure details were announced earlier this week, and roadway signage was updated on Friday to reflect details for motorists. 

"Sentiment from those taking advantage of the added space has been positive," Holmes said in an email on Saturday.  

 "The City of Toronto remains committed to actively monitoring and making necessary adjustments to the ActiveTO program and the impacts it may have along major roads and in neighbourhoods." 

With files from Muriel Draaisma, Kelda Yuen

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