If you believe what the mayor’s been saying — and you can hear him over the shouts of the shirtless people standing behind him — the Eglinton Connects plan is yet another unwanted War On The Car offensive, designed in secret and without consultation to remove lanes and make traffic worse in service of nefarious and unstated reasons.
But that’s nonsense.
Here’s the real scoop on Eglinton Connects. It’s been in the works for years, since the Eglinton Crosstown LRT was first identified as a priority. Items relating to the plan were reviewed and adopted by council in May on votes of 38-0 for the environmental assessment study and 35-3 for the final directions report.
The plan doesn’t call for large-scale elimination of traffic lanes, except for a 1.5-kilometre stretch between Avenue Road and Mount Pleasant, which will be reconfigured to have two through traffic lanes, a centre turning lane and lay-by parking.
As for community support, council’s report on the EA in May came with supportive letters from the Eglinton Way BIA, the Eglinton Park Residents’ Association, the Fairbanks Village BIA, the Sherwood Park Residents’ Association, the Mount Dennis Community Association, the Brentwood Towers’ Tenant Association, Leaside Property Owners Association Incorporated and Dr. Chris Cavacuiti of the True North Medical Clinic at 2010 Eglinton Avenue West who says his staff and patients “would all love to see a protected bike lane on Eglinton.”
The Leaside Property Owners Association goes as far as saying that the consultation process used was “a model one for the city.” They “commend staff for their diligence and their willingness to communicate and discuss issues and options throughout the process.”
Does that mean the plan is perfect? Of course not. No plan is. The implementation report before council this week contains some communications from people who feel like the plan could use more consultation. That’s worth considering. And maybe there are some good questions about traffic models related to the design between Avenue and Mount Pleasant. It never hurts to ask.
But that doesn’t mean the entire plan needs to be tossed in the trash. The city and its elected representatives shouldn’t buy into the Fordian approach to governance, where plans are either hailed as the best thing ever or insulted and burned to the ground. It turns out there’s a vast middle ground that allows for reasonable debate, continued consultation and community engagement. Perhaps if we embrace these questions and base their answers on facts and evidence, plans can actually be made stronger.
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/ford-for-toronto-matt-elliott/2014/07/09/lets-not-freak-out-over-eglinton-connects.html on 2014-07-09T00:00:00.000Z