Toronto Urban Planning

Farewell to to Bathurst Manor Plaza


This Sunday July 31, another suburban shopping plaza in Toronto will close for good. For over 50 years, Bathurst Manor Plaza, at the corner of Wilmington Avenue and Overbrook Place, served the local community. At its peak, it had Sunnybrook Market, a local grocery store, a Shoppers Drug Mart, LCBO, and a CIBC bank branch. It also had several clothing stores, an optician, restaurants, cleaners, an a video store. These may not be the types of businesses that would attract customers from far away, but they were the types of stores essential to the local community. It also had a gas station and service centre, which was later occupied by a kosher pizza restaurant. The plaza’s second floor houses doctors’ and dentists’ offices, lawyers, and other services.

There was also Goodman’s China and Gifts. Known for wedding registries, it was where my father would go (all the way from Brampton) to get fine crystal gifts, for my mother’s birthday or wedding anniversary, often bring my brothers and I along. I still remember friendly Mr. Goodman behind the counter, who always had a twinkle in his eye and loved seeing us kids with our father in his store. This is why I felt particularly sad visiting this plaza for the last time earlier this week.

Canadian Jewish News has a very good article that discusses the history and future of Bathurst Manor Plaza.

IMG_3825-001The abandoned Goodman’s China store

Brampton Cycling Toronto

Suburban cycling infrastructure: the 416 versus the 905

IMG_2051-001Riding along the McNicoll hydro corridor in northern Scarborough

Earlier this summer, I took two rides from my downtown apartment to suburban locations. On one ride, I biked northeast to Agincourt, on another trip, I biked to Downtown Brampton on a route that took me past the Humber River and Etobicoke Creek. I experienced different standards for on-street and off-road cycling routes. The City of Toronto generally does better, but suburban cycling infrastructure generally depends on off-road trails, rather than on-street bike lanes and cycle tracks.

In the urban, central part of Toronto, bike lanes and cycle tracks (separated bike lanes located along major streets) are the predominant form of cycling infrastructure. While there are some bike lanes in suburban Toronto and in other municipalities like Mississauga and Brampton, most bike routes, if they exist, are off-road multi-use trails, in ravine or hydro corridors, or alongside major roads, like sidewalks.

Multi-use paths are pleasant to ride on, but they’re often treated as recreational trails, rather than transportation corridors. Most paths are not cleared of snow in the winter (winter cycling really should be encouraged), and they are often isolated from the adjacent road network and local destinations, and they can meander, rather than follow straight lines. Road crossings can often be awkward.

Bike lanes, which offer less protection from motorized traffic at least are integrated with the rest of the street grid, and are generally more direct. But on fast-moving suburban arterials, they aren’t ideal without separation. This is where the side-of-road path comes in.

IMG_2305-001Shared pathway, Derry Road, Mississauga

Politics Toronto Transit

Toronto’s new rapid transit plan

Yesterday, City Council decided, by a vote of 27-16, to go ahead with the $3.1 billion one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth Subway to Scarborough Centre, rejecting Councillor Josh Matlow’s last-ditch attempt to resurrect the LRT replacement and extension of the ageing Scarborough LRT line. Council — Mayor Tory included — also voted to spend resources studying three more suburban subway extensions and a re-alignment of the proposed Relief Line subway backed by the local councillor.

Unfortunately, the chance of going back to the less-expensive, yet longer seven-stop light rail line is slim-to-nil at this point. In my view, it’s time for transit advocates that backed the LRT to focus their energies elsewhere. Like Metrolinx’s fare integration strategy, and the plans for other LRT lines, such as the eastern and western extensions of the Eglinton-Crosstown.

TT - Scarborough VoteHow council voted on Councillor Matlow’s motion to resurrect the LRT option for Scarborough

In order to ensure that he had enough votes, John Tory entertained Ward 39 Councillor Jim Karygiannis’ motion for a study on an extension of the Sheppard Line from Don Mills Station to Scarborough Centre. (There’s a LRT proposed for Sheppard East, but no matter.) Karygiannis’ motion passed, as well as several other councillors’ pet subway projects. Ward 10 Councillor James Pasternak has long pushed for a Sheppard Subway extension west between Sheppard-Yonge and Downsview Stations, and he successfully got that included as well. Finally, Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) got a study approved for a subway extension in his ward as well, resurrecting a long-dormant proposal for a subway extension from Kipling Station to Sherway Gardens.

It’s worth noting that all three right-leaning councillors are reliable votes for John Tory.

Downtown, Paula Fletcher (Ward 30) moved that staff re-examine the Relief Line, moving the recommended alignment from under Pape Avenue to Carlaw Avenue between Gerrard and Queen Streets. This would shift the planned — yet unfunded — subway line two blocks west. The Pape alignment was chosen for ease of construction and operation (the line must curve from north to west just south of Queen Street), and is only two blocks away. That study will cost $520,000 and staff time.

All these new studies are illustrated below. For clarity’s sake, the Sheppard East LRT, the Scarborough LRT proposal, and the existing Scarborough RT (Line 3) are removed. You can read more about how the votes went down on Steve Munro’s site.

Transit Plan July 2016The map of planned, approved and existing rapid transit lines, and those extensions and re-alignments approved for study

The “subways, subways, subways” sentiment is alive and well at City Hall, even if Rob Ford has passed on. And despite the thirst for expensive new subway lines,  Mayor Tory is still backing an austerity agenda at City Hall. Apart from the decorum, not much has changed in the mayor’s office.

Politics Toronto Transit

The difference between the Fords’ Subway Plan and John Tory’s Subway Plan

The Rob Ford/Doug Ford Subway Plan, circa 2014

The above is the subway plan promoted by Rob Ford, and later Doug Ford, in the 2014 municipal election. Thanks to today’s pandering to suburban councillors demanding their own subway lines, below is the John Tory-backed subway plan.

The John Tory Subway Plan, circa 2016