Yonge-Dundas 'scramble' review called

In a surprise motion, the city's public works committee chairman has asked for a review of the scramble intersection at Yonge and Dundas.

Busy pedestrian intersection targeted for causing motor traffic delays

Toronto's first "pedestrian scramble" intersection at Yonge and Dundas Streets, unveiled three years ago, is being targeted in a traffic review. (Patrick Dell/Canadian Press)

The future of Toronto's "scramble" pedestrian crossing at Yonge and Dundas is in jeopardy.

In a surprise motion, the city's public works committee chairman has asked for a review of the intersection, which stops traffic from all sides, allowing pedestrians to cross diagonally in a shortcut from one corner to another.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, the public works chairman, told reporters he drives through the intersection regularly and a traffic sequence that stops motor traffic in all directions is contributing significantly to gridlock.

Citing a traffic study of Toronto's and Calgary's scramble crossings, Minnan-Wong said wait times have tripled for drivers. The study also notes, however, that there are far more pedestrians than vehicles in the area.

'No pre-warning'

Minnan-Wong argued that another critical look at the scrambles is necessary before the city proceeds with building more such intersections. The cycling of lights is taking nearly twice as long as it did before, Minnan-Wong told CBC's Matt Galloway Thursday on Metro Morning.

"I think that particular intersection has become a symbol, and I'd rather move from symbol to functionality," he said. "What we have to understand with all that space on Dundas Square right now is … if it takes pedestrians 30 extra seconds to cross the street because they can't go diagonally, yet vehicles are being lined up for four or five minutes spewing all that exhaust, is that the right way to go?"

Local councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said that although she was fine with the review of the Yonge-Dundas intersection, she felt blindsided by the motion to add it to the meeting's agenda.


"There's a repeated pattern here. It seems to be the way this administration's operating," she said, adding that a lot of research had gone in to the introduction of that crossing. "So no consultation with myself, no pre-warning that this was coming up."

For his part, Minnan-Wong denied he had been anything but fair and open about the public works meeting.

"Quite frankly, the idea that the councillor didn't know we were doing a downtown transporation study, and the fact that she showed up at the meeting but didn't ask to speak is somewhat disingenuous," he said Thursday.

The corner of Yonge and Dundas is considered to be one of the busiest intersections for foot traffic in the city. Scramble intersections have caught on in cities such as Tokyo, San Francisco and Montreal. Toronto has three of them. Aside from the Yonge-Dundas crossing, the city has also installed the crossings at Yonge and Bloor streets and Bay and Bloor streets.