[URBAN NOTE] “Yonge Street project in North York might become casualty of budget debate”
David Rider in the Toronto Star describes how budget shenanigans may hurt a plan to make a large part of Yonge Street in North York, far north of the downtown, more usable for non-vehicular traffic.
City council’s sometimes chaotic 15-hour budget meeting included dozens of choices that won’t generate headlines but can shape Toronto neighbourhoods for years to come.
A 24-20 vote in favour of a Councillor David Shiner motion has thrown a wrench in a long-fostered community plan to remake a stretch of Yonge St. in North York, from Sheppard to Finch Aves., including the addition of bike lanes.
Councillor John Filion, whose Ward 23 encompasses almost all the proposed “Re-imagining Yonge Street” project, says it “might be dead.” He pins much of the blame on Mayor John Tory, whose note to council allies — recommending how they vote on various 20 7 budget items — backed Shiner’s motion.
“This project has been in the works for at least two years, enthusiastically supported by the community and city staff, including the chief planner, to change the bleakness of that strip of Yonge St. — to widen sidewalks, put in bike lanes and other features to try to turn a sea of high rises and storefronts into a real community,” Filion said in an interview Thursday.
“My extreme disappointment is in the mayor — (the Shiner motion) only passed because he was actively supporting it. The mayor’s office was pulling votes away from me.”