avenue road

Grand plans to redesign another major roadway in Toronto set for big reveal

The fast-moving arterial Avenue Road, between Bloor Street West and St. Clair Avenue West, is the latest stretch of roadway on the verge of a makeover with interim measures to convert it to a calmer, safer four lanes, in advance of full reconstruction. With public consultations now complete and a committee vote on the final staff recommendations scheduled for this month, city hall may now be ready to deliver.

The City of Toronto is set to unveil the transformation of Avenue Road. This follows a series of public consultations and an open house event held at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church last fall, where initial designs were presented.

“The City’s Avenue Road study has identified serious unsafe conditions along this perilous stretch of Avenue Road and has indicated these conditions need to be corrected,” said Arlene Dejardins, of the Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC). “The 20 organizations who comprise the Avenue Road Safety Coalition are not surprised by these findings and are thrilled that the city finally has a plan to correct them. This is a win for anyone using Avenue Road, for safety and the climate.”

Dejardins continued, “We are looking forward to the implementation of Phase 1 of the plan as soon as possible. These existing unsafe conditions need attention now and, with some adjustments, the city’s plan is a very positive and much-needed step forward.”

The proposal aims to transform Avenue Road into a safer, more pedestrian-friendly environment, reflecting community demands for wider sidewalks and protected bike lanes. 

Led by ARSC, advocates emphasize the urgency of change, citing high collision rates and historical safety issues. The envisioned redesign aims to reduce lanes, widen sidewalks and introduce protected bike lanes, reflecting a shift toward prioritizing safety and comfort for all users.

However, not everyone is in favour of the proposed changes. John Ritchie, a longtime resident of the South Hill district, voiced significant opposition, calling for common sense. 

“There is significant opposition amongst local residents to a wholesale alteration of this stretch of Avenue Road. As you know, the city is proposing to cut traffic lanes, create bicycle lanes, and impose other restrictions on vehicles driving northbound and southbound.”

Ritchie expressed concern about the impact on residential areas, particularly in South Hill and Rathnelly.

“South Hill has the only northbound and southbound alternatives for traffic seeking to escape the congestion on Avenue Road. Our roads will be clogged with traffic.

He argued against the proposed measures, highlighting potential inconvenience for residents, and suggested other measures, some of which are already in place, such as photo radar and increased fines.

“Who wants to spend a half-hour driving south to Bloor or north to St. Clair Avenue?” he said. “Listen to the residents, not the activists and their causes. Leave Avenue Road alone. Your proposed reforms are regressive and harmful to our community.”

The upcoming unveiling in March marks a crucial step toward what could be a more inclusive and people-centric Avenue Road for the future. But it isn’t approved yet. Stay tuned for updates on the final vision and the city’s plans to implement these transformative changes.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO