If you’re among the set of downtown drivers and Uber passengers who cite maddening Toronto traffic as the bane of your existence, there’s some good news for you.
Today, in another move we can definitely get behind, Mayor John Tory said that the city would no longer issue a “rubber stamp” for applications from developers who want to close streets for long periods of time.
In a time when it takes longer than ever to get from one end of the city to the other, the last thing we need is more lanes closed to accommodate staging areas for construction vehicles and equipment.
In a press conference in downtown Toronto, Tory delivered a firm warning:
“The status quo is not satisfactory. It is not going to be business as usual going forward,” said Tory. “It is time we started to place a greater emphasis on the broader public interest when it comes to these kinds of decisions.”
In 2015, Tory hiked fees for developers who seek to block lanes of traffic or sidewalks, but it did not have the anticipated impact. When it comes to hungry Toronto developers, it seems money isn’t an issue.
“I tried the financial carrot and the results just aren’t good enough so now we will have to use the regulatory stick,” Tory said.
Tory’s announcement comes in the wake of last week’s decision by the city to put three developers’ applications on hold because they wanted to close down city streets for a number of years (again, thank god).
Since then, one of the developers chose to modify their request so they would only take up a “small part of a curb lane” while allowing two lanes of traffic to pass.
Tory said he hoped similar deals could be made with the two other developers.
“I want it to be understood very clearly that the council approval of these kinds of things going forward is not going to be a rubber stamp,” Tory said. “It never should have been but now we have established the precedent and we will be going forward looking at each of these very carefully and making sure people understand that approval is not given until approval is given.”
It seems we’re on the right track when it comes to dealing with Toronto’s traffic problem. Now, if we could only do something about the TTC.