City/TTC proposals for widened sidewalks and curb extensions would allow for new public uses such as patios, merchandise displays, benches, gardens or public art. In some cases, these sidewalk “bumpouts” would allow TTC riders to board the streetcar without crossing a lane of car traffic. Such public enhancements were recommended by the BIA in its 2003 streetscape strategy, and have been strongly endorsed by all three neighboring Residents’ Associations and other community members.
However, as we first warned in August of 2007, these enhancements would require the loss of some parking. In January of 2008, City and TTC staff presented a proposal whose estimated parking losses were 40 to 50 spots. At the BIA annual general meeting that year, we announced that a formal City parking inventory projected parking losses under the proposal of 60 spots, or 26 percent of existing capacity.
In response, most BIA members told the board that while they were, on the most part, prepared to trade some parking for new and enhanced public spaces, they were opposed to any unnecessary parking losses. We made the BIA position clear to the City and TTC, and urged them to improve their proposal, and seek ways of reducing these parking losses.
Last Monday, the City and TTC presented a new proposal that reduces parking losses from 26% to eight percent – just 19 spots. And that’s during the day. During the evenings and on weekends, when loading zones are not in use, the plan reduces parking by less than five percent – a mere 11 spots. And the City and TTC were able to do this without affecting traffic flow or greatly altering the original vision of new and enhanced public spaces.
In addition, the plan would make the parking lanes permanent, which means on weekday mornings the west side would no longer have parking prohibitions. That effectively doubles parking capacity on weekday mornings, when many drivers stop to grab coffees or delivery vans stop to unload.
To put this in perspective, the projected parking losses under this new proposal are less than half of the parking capacity Roncesvalles recently gained when the Howard Public School lot was made available to the public after school hours. Roncesvalles will actually have more parking capacity in two years than it did two years ago (when reconstruction planning first got started), plus thousands more square feet of new public space.
Without a doubt, there will still be many ways the plan could be improved. The formal design and consultation phase of the project begins in the late summer or early fall, but the BIA wants to know your responses to even these preliminary proposals. Please examine the PDFs of the sidewalk plan (part one is the southern half, and part two is the north), and let the BIA know how the proposal might affect your business or your experience of the street. You can leave a comment, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . More information on the Roncesvalles reconstruction project is available here and here.