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Densification on an inhuman scale: Yonge-Eglinton as ground zero

The extreme densification and overwhelming ongoing construction in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood prompted a sizeable town hall meeting on November 25. Three local councillors, Josh Matlow, Mike Colle and Jaye Robinson organized the event to bring attention to the many safety issues faced by residents on a daily basis. The dangers imposed on the community by the dozens of condo construction sites and the LRT are not exaggerated - tragically, a woman was killed in September by a turning cement truck.

The Republic Residents' Association (RRA) was represented at the town hall by RRA Co-chair Terry O'Sullivan. Here are Terry's remarks, portions of which were reported in the Toronto Star.

Crowd at Midtown Town Hall focusing on neighbourhood construction safety

This association has been heavily involved in this community since its inception including issues relating to densification and area safety to name just two. While originally the Association was founded by members living in the two Republic buildings at 25 Broadway and 70 Roehampton, we now represent other buildings in the neighbourhood and we are pleased to be part of the Northeast Quadrant Alliance of similarly-minded resident associations. Having said that, we were perhaps first out of the gate in this area on issues of densification and the negative safety effects of poor construction management in the Yonge-Eglinton and Roehampton-Broadway area in particular. This area has been ground zero for much of what brings us here tonight.

Terry O'Sullivan addressing the town hall

We are not NIMBYs. We all have chosen vertical living and we all live in high-rise buildings. But, there is sensible densification and densification, including much of which is now being planned, which exists on an inhuman scale.

However, what brings us here tonight is something that directly concerns us all and should be job #1 for us all – the safety of members of this community.

Safety issues arise in two contexts

1. The easiest and most obvious is the extraordinarily unsafe conditions we are presently experiencing in this area – and when I say “we” I mean to include schoolchildren, teachers, people with ambulatory issues, seniors and patrons of local business.

2. Also, and perhaps more subtly, the finished results of these projects will pour more pedestrians and vehicles into this area than anyone thinks it can absorb. The post-construction safety effects on the community are real and they are exacerbated by the fact that these buildings will be completed and up and running while further construction is ongoing in close proximity.

The St. Monica’s project is an easy and obvious example. Originally planned for 22 storeys, it is now proposed for 44 stories with the removal of the parking lot. That lot is often used by parents dropping their children off at St. Monica’s school in the morning. It will no longer be available to them. With construction scheduled for up and down Broadway it is only a matter of time before someone gets injured (I hope not badly) during the school drop-off and pick-up periods. That is equally true for the North Toronto high school which is where we are and which is, of course, across the street from St. Monica’s.

Call To Action

1. Let me turn to our call to action. We applaud the appointment of the construction coordinator for this area and pledge to work closely with that individual and his/her staff. We want to help these people to do the most effective job in this area and we wish tonight to have you tell us how we can provide the maximum amount of effective assistance to them.

2. Secondly, one of the major safety issues in this area continues to be pervasive illegal parking. Not only by construction vehicles which will sit in the roadway or with two wheels on the sidewalk and idle all day but with people who leave their vehicles on the streets either to go to work or take the subway or whatever. We worked diligently with the City to get No Parking signs put up (although one was taken down it was subsequently replaced) but there are vehicles still parked illegally all day. While from time to time there are tickets placed on those vehicles, it is very much a hit and miss proposition and we can look out our windows on any given day and see a line of illegally parked vehicles without tickets.These illegally parked vehicles create an additional danger for people when construction activities impede access to the sidewalks. People – often with walkers or motorized chairs – will then cross the road to the other side.To do so they often have to exit from between parked vehicles which creates an additional and absolutely preventable danger. The same is true for the students coming to North Toronto. On Friday last, I saw a frustrated member of the community drive his motorized wheelchair right down the middle of Roehampton because of the difficulties with the sidewalk.

After that windup, the question is this. What will you do regarding an enhanced parking enforcement in this area which is needed in the interests of community safety?

Toronto Star article on the town hall:

City TV News coverage of the meeting: Crosstown construction safety concerns

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