TORONTO- City officials are once again considering bike lanes on Bloor Street.
The public works committee has approved the first step toward the lanes with a five-to-one vote. Only committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong voted against it.
City Council voted in 2011 to stop an environmental assessment that looked at the impact of introducing lanes on one of Toronto’s busiest streets.
Council brought the issue back to the table, after City officials recommended that council allow a smaller Bloor assessment to be done at the same time as an assessment on Dupont St.
The resumption of the Bloor assessment was recommended by six councillors: Ana Bailao, Gord Perks, Adam Vaughan, Pam McConnell, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Mike Layton.
Layton – along with councillor Mark Grimes – said Monday’s vote does not mean the lanes are a sure thing.
“We’re aware that there are conflicting interests here, and we want to try to address them,” Layton said. “The only way we can do that is if we’re presented with the facts in going through the proper process.”
Grimes said he doesn’t want the lanes turning into another Jarvis, referring to the bike lanes on that street which were removed within three years of their installation, at a higher cost.
“There’s going to be lots of consultation,” he said. “I’m the chair of four BIA’s in my ward, and I’ll tell you there’s lots of different opinions, but as councillor Layton said you have to go out there and find out what they are.”
Minnan-Wong, meanwhile, says he doesn’t want to throw gasoline on the fire, but that’s what councillors are doing right now.
“I can see the next step, no matter what the result of the environmental assessment is, it will be an initiative by certain members of council to push for it anyway,” he said.
Alex Ling is a cyclist and small business owner. He’s also been involved with the Bloor West Village BIA for 40 years, spending some time as chair and now sits on the board.
“The small businesses like my little shop, like my little coffee shop, they need the on street parking in front of their store so that customers can come and go,” Ling told 680News.
“Customers wouldn’t want to be parking two or three blocks away around the corner or in the parking lot two or three blocks away because then they might as well go to the mall and shop.”
Ling suggests using smaller streets instead of major city streets like Bloor Street.
“Utilize one street down and one street north of Bloor for the bike lane in the residential area. It’s much more pleasant, tree-lined streets, and more civilized, and less pollution,” he told 680News.
The proposal on the study will be considered by City Council next month, who will have the final say on the matter.
The joint Bloor-Dupont assessment might not begin until late 2014.