Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Out-of-towners offer their 2 cents-worth on the ROW

It seems that in transit-related matters - especially where the possibility of establishing a "light-rail system" is concerned, there is a constituency that can't seem to resist poking their noses into places where one could argue that they shouldn't. Most of these seem to be current students in various university city-planning departments.

For example, here is:

Greg D. Morrow two cents-worth

which somehow made it into The Star. Now Mr. Morrow is a PHd student - but he's not from Toronto. He makes a good point to begin:

The recent debate over the future of St. Clair Ave. is a classic case of entrenched positions and a bad planning process leading to an unnecessarily contentious battle.

an assertion that no lucid person would refute. However, as the column evolves, it becomes clear that perhaps Morrow hasn't followed the debate that closely:

...The city is not advocating turning St. Clair into an arterial roadway...

Well - St. Clair is a major arterial roadway as far as The City of Toronto goes. That is why City Council as a whole had to vote of the proposal. Changes to smaller arterial roads - such as Dundas East - are decided at the community council level.

...By reducing the carriageway from six lanes to four and adding trees on either side of the right-of-way, traffic will slow down and the scale of the street will be reduced, which invariably makes for a more pleasant place to shop...

Well - there will be many trees lost to this project. The sidewalk narrowing will mean that many of the older trees will likely be removed - as they sit at the edge of the sidewalk. I would think it likely given the rebuilding (should it proceed) that many other trees will suffer/perish due to root systems being damaged.

And since the streetcars stop at virtually every corner, shopkeepers need not worry about losing business. In fact, retail streets with smaller carriageways and effective transit universally outperform those located on wide streets carrying relatively high-speed car traffic.

I guess it depends what is meant by effective. Queens Quay W (a.ka. Harbourfront) is a retail wasteland. I've been told that the owners of the Queens Quay Terminal have given up on trying to make retail work - and there really wasn't anything else to speak of from a retail perspective. Of course, this street has exactly the type of set up that Morrow is touting. Hey - shopkeepers at QQT don't have to worry about losing business because there wont be any left!

Then there is the example of the Waterloo student from Edmonton who set up a blog to promote a boycott of St. Clair Avenue. I must say that the U of W has fallen in my estimation. What exactly does such a person know about the area, the people, and their hopes and aspirations?

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