Steve Russell/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO Toronto’s downtown construction boom has also contributed to gridlock for pedestrians who often find their path blocked by hoarding. Some three dozen construction sites, mostly condo towers, are ringed with hoarding that extends over the sidewalk and curb lane, many on major streets.
Some three dozen construction sites, mostly condo towers, are ringed with hoarding that extends over the sidewalk and curb lane, many on major streets including Yonge and Adelaide.
At the 1 Bloor E. tower under construction, northbound Yonge St. traffic backs up to the south during afternoon rush hour because the curb lane was closed last month — and will remain so until mid-2014.
It affects business, too.
Politicians are already tossing out ideas. Among them:
“If there was an increasing scale of fees so that the longer you stay, the more you pay, then you have an incentive to get off the road, or maybe stage everything on your own property,” Minnan-Wong said.
• Make developers file their construction staging plans up front, before the project is approved. The politicians say that once developers have building permits in hand, it’s hard to bring them to the table.
• Require developers to move hoarding off the street and onto their sites as quickly as possible. In condo projects, the underground parking area is excavated from lot line to lot line, meaning developers must use part of the roadway.
But the building itself could be set back from the sidewalk, to create room to move the hoarding off the roadway. A side benefit is that when the building is finished, there’s space for a wider sidewalk.
“We have to try to build a walkable city,” Wong-Tam said. “We just have to do it. Otherwise, it’s unsafe for seniors, mothers pushing strollers, people carrying heavy groceries, or requiring mobility devices.”
• Put construction trailers on top of the hoarding so they don’t take up precious space on the ground. This is done in New York City and has been done on some Toronto projects, with 300 Front St. being an example.
“I want mural artwork, I want 24-hour hotline numbers people can call, I want it lighted, I want it to look better,” she said. “The industry needs to do better; they need to step up their game and treat our streets with far more respect than they currently do.”
The industry is willing to talk, said Steve Upton, incoming chair of BILD, the industry association, and vice-president of development at Tridel.
Upton said city planners had favoured projects that were built right out to the sidewalk, but now are leaning toward having the structure set back from the sidewalk somewhat to create a larger pedestrian way.
“A lot of people like to have space for patios,” Upton said. “It creates more of a dynamic public realm.”
“If for any reason you have to stop construction, then it makes sense in the interim to open it back up. If it’s going to be several months, you’d want to consider that. It’s a notion that could be at least discussed.”
Vaughan said it’s an issue that should get priority. In some parts of his ward, which includes the John St. entertainment district, towers are going up close to each other at the same time.
“You’ve even got developers stepping on other developers’ toes at this point,” Vaughan said. “We have a substantial number of lane closures now, and more coming. It’s getting more and more restricted. We need to figure this out.”