Transportation - Car Free Zones - Quality of life and sustainability for our polluted and congested cities...
Planning and Growth Management Committee Monday, November 16, 2015
This deputation is a Revival of a 15 year old proposal on Car-Free Zones in Toronto, submitted in 2001 – 2003, to the Planning and Transportation Committee, and the
Works Cte, 9.4, on:
Closure of Specific Streets in Toronto, Car-free Zones.
3 Areas: Popular with Visitors and Residents.
Yorkville, From Bay Street to Avenue Road, of Cumberland Street and Yorkville
Avenue. There are 4 Public Parking Bldgs in that area .
Chinatown, Closure from Spadina Avenue to Beverley Street on Dundas Street.
TTC Excempted, 1 Public Parking Bldg.
Kensington Market, Same area used for the temporary Sunday closure in
Summer. 1 Public parking Bldg.
Cities around the World not only have implemented Car-Free areas 15 years ago... they are now at the 2nd part of the planning, of converting the whole city to non-motorised infrastructure by 2019.
..... and WE, are still stuck in Traffic, and left in the dust.....
Let's show vision and progress with no compromises that kill the concept and delude
ourselves of any achievement or credit.
A serious attempt should be made by both politicians and urban planning advocates to implement permanent changes in cities' infrastructure, if we are to eliminate air, noise and visual pollution that have drastically compromised our health and quality of life. It is a people-friendly urban environment that creates social cohesiveness and a liveable city.
The predominant emphasis solely on economic development has warped our priorities and values at the expense of public concerns and deteriorated infrastructure. Debilitating smog and gridlock and an ever expanding sprawl is the result of unrestrained automobile and truck transport. A resident of a typical dense Dutch city produces half the CO2 as a resident of a typical sprawling Canadian city, Japan Times, 8 May 2003. Levels considered acceptable for PCBs, dioxins and other pollutants in Canada are several times higher than US., European Union and World Health Organization standards.
European cities and around the world have successfully implemented car-free areas demonstrating an innovative and progressive vision. The contribution of renowned architect Jan Gehl of the Copenhagen Group: Jan Gehl, Lars Gemzoe and David Yenken to Copenhagen's infrastructure, has been recognized as the best environmental design in improving public life and alleviating congestion without limiting mobility. Car-free zones or pedestrianization, figure prominently in the city.
Streets and communities are dehumanized in a city that automobile accommodation has prevalence over all modes of transportation. This prioritization has adverse effects socially and economically. A proposal by Air Pollution Coalition of Ontario was submitted to Toronto City Council Committees, 2001 - 2003 to implement car-free zones in three core areas of the city, Yorkville, China Town and Kensington Market in Toronto, by closing streets to motorized traffic, keeping the areas open to public transit, cycling and walking. Due to the media and public support that this initiative received, it was finally accepted by committee members in December, 2003; but, they reneged on their decision in the spring of 2004 and reported it "unsuitable". The continuous dedication to this project by a small number of residents and businesses in one of the areas, pressured the Toronto City Council to test the project for few hours for seven consecutive Sundays as a Street Closure Event. Events, however, are not considered permanent changes; they are temporary and ineffective. They rarely become permanent changes, just as intentionally planned changes adopted by the Council, are not moved as "events". Activists will always argue that doing little is better than not taking action at all. But could that not be considered a justification for lack of determination and commitment by elected officials to implement permanent changes? Or perhaps, we confuse changes based on decisive action with inevitable involvement that takes decades to occur.