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cityscape

Are Bike Lanes, Trees, and Mid-Rise Development in Eglinton Avenue’s Future?

The City is holding some last-chance public consultations on Eglinton Avenue's post-LRT future.

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Is this what a future Golden Mile could look like? Image courtesy of the City.

Scene: 5 p.m. on a sunny afternoon in the future. It’s time to wind up the workday at one of the firms calling the city’s latest “innovation cluster” home. After a short stretch in a park that used to be a Walmart, you wander to the neighbourhood’s main drag to run a few pre-dinner errands. You marvel at the streetscape before you: tall trees, mid-rise developments, wide sidewalks, and commuters whizzing by in the bike lane. Out in the middle of the road, an LRT glides by on a vegetation-filled track bed. To think this humming, green streetscape along Eglinton Avenue was once Scarborough’s grey “Golden Mile” of industry…

This scenario could come true if the long-term visions in the City’s Eglinton Connects planning study are implemented. Over the past year, the project has looked at landscape and infrastructure improvements to Eglinton Avenue to complement the Crosstown LRT, which is scheduled for completion in 2020. Officials involved in the project foresee Toronto’s “centre of gravity” moving north when the transit line is finished.

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Segment of a map of what Eglinton Avenue might look like in the future, with sticky notes. Photo by Jamie Bradburn/Torontoist.

A final round of consultations on Eglinton Avenue’s future will include three public sessions, the first of which occurred at George Harvey Collegiate Institute, near Keele Street and Eglinton Avenue, Monday night. Attendees browsed a 40-foot-long map, which included the Eglinton Connects recommendations for reconfiguring Eglinton between Jane Street and Kennedy Road. A prominent feature was a bicycle lane running mostly at sidewalk level along the entire stretch, giving cyclists a straight route across the city. Sticky notes were provided, so people could place their concerns on the map. Those concerns ranged from fears about developers sneaking in too-tall buildings, to commentaries about the unused TTC property at Eglinton subway station. The map is expected to be posted online shortly.

The Eglinton Connects plan’s 20 recommendations were organized under three themes:

Building Eglinton: Rezone properties to allow construction of mid-rise buildings along most of the corridor, with high-rises permitted at major hubs and intersections. Entrances to underground LRT stations should be integrated into neighbourhood-appropriate developments above them. More rear laneways and landscaped areas should be built to ease the transition from taller buildings to existing residential areas. Create more public spaces like parks and plazas. Recognize heritage properties with conservation districts.

Greening Eglinton: Green up the corridor by planting large trees along the street to grow a shady canopy. Provide better links to existing recreational trails and the city’s ravines. On the surface portions of the LRT, plant vegetation along the tracks.

Travelling Eglinton: This is based on the “complete streets” theory, which calls for planners to provide enough room for cars, bicycles, transit, and pedestrians. Dedicated bus lanes would be removed, travel lanes realigned, and current on-street parking levels retained. Wider sidewalks and protected cycling lanes would be built. In neighbourhoods designated as “Main Street Character Areas,” streetscape elements could include street furniture, patios, and gateway markers.

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Photo by Jamie Bradburn/Torontoist.

The study also includes six focus areas where the changes would ideally be more radical. Current big-box retail areas like Westside Mall and the Golden Mile would, City planners hope, be replaced by new developments made up of commercial, recreational, and residential properties. Smaller sites, like the Metro supermarket at Bayview and Eglinton avenues, could be chopped up with new streets, assuming the owners of the properties could somehow be brought on board.

Before and after a one-hour presentation, attendees at Monday’s consultation were free to quiz City and project officials. There was a brief general Q&A session, where concerns raised ranged from questions about funding sources, to whether the proposed 90-centimetre buffer between the street and the bike lane would be sufficient for piling snow during winter clearing.

There are two more sessions coming up: tonight (October 8) at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute (730 Eglinton Avenue West) and tomorrow night (October 9) at Jean Vanier Secondary School (959 Midland Avenue). Each will run from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. If you can’t make it, an online survey is available. The study report is supposed to be completed by the end of 2013, and a final presentation is expected to go before city council next spring.

Comments

  • wklis

    What? Tear down a tree museum and put up real trees? What next? Pull up the parking lots, and unpave them to put in paradise?

    Apologizes to Joni Mitchell.

  • cliff s

    I couldn’t get past the rendering, Eglinton will never look like that.

    The fire department will want a paved ROW so they can send trucks down it – if we don’t the city could burn down – …and council/TTC will agree and force the project scope to change (see St. Clair, Spadina and the Waterfront).

    • Lee Zamparo

      ” if we don’t the city could burn down -”

      A little dramatic don’t you think? Many cities have streets configured this way and they haven’t burnt down.

  • istoronto

    Having lived my teens in the Golden Mile area and most of my adult life in Riverdale, I’d really like to see this kind of development along Eglinton. Let’s hope the powers that be, can make (let) it happen. It would bring TO into the 21st century.

  • Toronto My Way

    Couldn’t/shouldn’t the Eglinton Crosstown go right out to junction with the Rouge Hill GO Stn. on Lawrence Avenue, east of Port Union Road? 416 does not end at Kennedy Road.

    • dsmithhfx

      Eglinton ends at Kingston. Lawrence runs parallel to Eglinton, one block north.

      • Toronto My Way

        Yeah. So the Crosstown goes along Eglinton past Markham to Kingston Rd, follows Kingston Road to Lawrence, and then along Lawrence to Rouge Hill GO Stn. I had to spell that out?

        • tomwest

          Malvern LRT line would do precisely that. $1.2bn is the price

          • Toronto My Way

            Malvern LRT would connect to Rouge Hill GO Station on Lawrence east of Port Union Road?

          • tomwest

            My bad. Malvern LRT would connect with Eglinton GO and Guildwood GO stations, before heading north up Morningside to Sheppard. That would bring the good people of Port Credit within 10-minute bus ride of LRT, and provide ample GO connections.

          • Toronto My Way

            Ah, okay. Hey, any GO connection is good (TTC and GO have generally not connected well). Eglinton and Guildwood GO Stns. are better than no connections.

            However, it’s the symmetry of systems connecting AT THE BORDERS OF 416 that balances both function and form. There’s TTC/GO connecting at Kipling on 416′s west border; and at Union in the south; VIVA connections at Finch (here again, subway should have gone to the border at Steeles)… the east border should have no less, and that’s Rouge Hill.

          • tomwest

            I’d argue it’s more useful for 905 agencies to run someways *into* Toronto, rather than connecting in the borders (and similarly, TTC should run someways into the 905). That way, people doing short trips across a border don’t get dinged with a double fare.
            The connections at Kipling and Finch (and Downsview) occur because they’re the end of the subway line, not because they’re the last stop in Toronto. When the Spadina extension into York occurs, the connections will happen at the nearest subway station, rather than continueing to run just inside the 416. (Ditto the Yonge extension). If the B-D line was extended into Mississagua, you’d get the same thing.

          • Toronto My Way

            I absolutely agree that TTC should have run someways into 905 and vice versa. But in order to have done that, it’d have had to at least cover 416, which it doesn’t adequately. Why, I’ll never understand, it certainly doesn’t fit the model set by other leading cities transit maps (then again, Toronto is not good at learning from others, and I’ve plenty of instances that aptly illustrate this frustrating reailty).

            Double fare…hmm…I think that could be addressed otherwise, regardless the degree of overlap. There are existing TTC bus routes that go north of Steeles into 905 and still charge extra fare. Fixing this can happen with a regional fare approach that needn’t depend upon the physical infrastructure to support it.

            And, before any discussion of B-D extending west beyond 416 border into Mississauga, I’d be back to beating that dead horse and sounding like a broken record in repeating that B-D should extend east to the 416 border – the most logical point would be Rouge Hill GO.

  • iSkyscraper

    Holy smokes, someone at City Hall actually has a brain. These images look like they came out of the planning and development staff in New York or San Francisco or Vancouver or, you know, a real city in 2013. Or anywhere except Rob Ford’s Toronto.

    Maybe there is hope yet.

  • tomwest

    Why do we need to provide four lanes for cars?

  • ginnee

    Not just the fire department but the stores won’t stand for having their signage blocked by trees and they’ll take most of the wide sidewalks with overly large sidewalk patios. This utopia also fails to show what the advertising realm is likely to do — particularly since they’re losing bus shelters in the core of Eglinton. There will be more sidewalk advertising posts.
    Finally, at the meeting last night, the parents of school aged children were very vocal against losing driving lanes. They feel entitled to whatever lanes are gained by the buses being off the core of Eglinton. And the parking plan isn’t adequate for them.

    • Lee Zamparo

      Parking can be fixed, as long as it does not entail them parking on the street. Streets are for moving vehicles and people. Unless you have special needs, park somewhere else and move a bit.

  • tomwest

    With the LRT, most people shouldn’t need to drive along Eglinton.

    • Lee Zamparo

      No chance there will be fewer than 4 lanes on a major arterial street like Eglinton. Emergency vehicle priority lanes are needed, for a start.

      • tomwest

        Emergency vehicles can (and will) use the LRT lanes.

        • Lee Zamparo

          Where there is no grade separation, yes. Otherwise how will they enter & exit?

  • joe

    Can we please start making bi-directional bike lanes like Montreal? These bike lanes will just become parking lanes if not.