By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Toronto is seeking to spend $4 million on the Danforth to assist in small business recovery and to create more public space for active transportation and cycling as TTC ridership reaches an 80 per cent decline.
As COVID-19 continues to inhibit the vitality of small businesses in East Toronto, and with residents asked to follow physical distancing guidelines in crowded neighbourhoods, the investment has potential to create more patio space, a dedicated bike lane, and other infrastructure improvements to assist in economic recovery.
On Thursday, May 28, Toronto Council will receive recommendations from the city’s Economic Development and Transportation Services departments, with support of the Medical Officer of Health, to implement an emergency plan to support COVID-19 recovery on Danforth Avenue and to assist TTC customers on the Bloor-Danforth TTC line.
“If we’re going to kickstart the economic recovery, we have to give our communities more options for visit and enjoy the Danforth,” Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford said. “The best way to help is to give people the space they need to feel safe and enjoy an attractive, local alternative to shopping online.”
The city stated there is a “significant drop” in the number of pre-COVID-19 riders on the Danforth subway line during rush hour, which was previously around 27,000.
The investment follows several community meetings, council meetings, and reports dating back to 2014. The study was updated in 2019 to include options for new affordable rental housing, and a cycling network.
The proposal maintains on-street parking on both sides of the Danforth, and introduces turning lanes at intersections to help traffic flow, allow for additional patio space to support local restaurants, and give businesses more space to reopen.
“Right now, we are seeing car traffic and pedestrian traffic at an all-time low while bike traffic has stayed about the same,” Mayor John Tory said. “We know that will change in the coming weeks and months. We need more bike infrastructure to help people move around the city as the restart gets underway. We are working together to make sure we make major investments in the Danforth to help businesses have the space they need to recover economically and make sure residents have ways to get around the community and their city safely.”
“Bikes bring business and will help drive economic recovery,” the mayor added.
The proposal has received support from local residents and BIAs, with The Danforth Mosaic BIA calling it “encouraging” and the Danforth East Community Association calling it “a chance to make the Danforth into a “vibrant, inclusive, and safe destination.”
The study area spans a six-kilometre stretch on the Danforth between Broadview Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue.
- Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.