Mayor Tory just announced that the City is proposing to fast-track implementing 40km of cycling infrastructure across Toronto, including the Danforth. This is the right thing to do to help our local businesses recover from this pandemic, restore consumer confidence and give people safe alternatives to the TTC.
The road to economic recovery goes through main street.
Over the course of the pandemic I’ve talked to hundreds of businesses and we know that bringing people back to places like the Danforth will be critical. This is about making Danforth your destination, for now and into the future.
The pilot would see an unprecedented $4 million investment this summer to enhance our public realm, create new opportunities for patios, provide dedicated parking, and add the infrastructure we need so that people can walk, ride and roll through our neighbourhood.
The detailed design will happen through more consultation with local businesses, but the current proposal for Danforth runs from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road. It maintains on-street parking on both sides of the street while introducing turning lanes at intersections to help traffic flow. The design would allow more patios to be added to support local restaurants and businesses reopening as quickly and safely as possible.
Restoring consumer confidence is a big part of recovery. Before COVID there were as many as 13,000 pedestrians and 27,000 subway boardings on Danforth every day. With the ridership down 85% and the majority of those people no longer visiting, we need safe alternatives, such as walking and cycling to bring people back to Danforth.
Starting to reopen incrementally and with local trips is the right approach.
We all know that many of our mom and pops have been devastated in the last few months. Almost half of small businesses across Canada have seen their revenue drop by over 70%. Estimates vary but tens of thousands of small businesses are expected to close due to COVID-19, and more than a million Canadians have been laid off from the restaurant and hospitality sector alone.
A government response alone can’t fix this. We have to go all-in as a community, and whoever can contribute will need to. We all have a role in keeping doors and jobs open in our community, and communities everywhere.
Danforth isn’t the only main street that needs our help, and it isn’t the only one getting it. We are finding ways to get patio spaces across the city so restaurants can slowly start reopening – this is going to be critical on Queen Street especially.
This proposal is city building at its best. We are taking the Danforth Study – something council initiated in 2018 – and adapting it quickly and effectively to our current needs. We’re taking an integrated approach across our Economic Development, Transportation Services, City Planning and Public Health departments to make the Danforth a destination now, and into the future.
Investing in this active transportation infrastructure is also about creating a healthy recovery, not just from the virus but for our long term physical and mental health, and the health and sustainability of our environment.
Accelerating a project in this way is the kind of responsive and agile government people expect to see. This is about taking action and getting things done. We must move the city forward and advance our priorities like economic recovery, infrastructure investment, and providing space for safer streets.
Now more than ever, we’re all being asked to think and act differently to support the greater good. This project is no exception and continues us on the path of big, important steps to keep us, and our main streets, healthy and safe. This situation is a prime example where the risk of doing too little is greater than the risk of doing too much.