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FORUM: Winter woes in Ward 11 (Nov. 2019)

December 9th, 2019 · 1 Comment

Layton seeks a more “robust” approach to snow clearing

By Mike Layton

Before the weather goes below zero, and the fall rain turns into ice and snow, I thought I could take a moment to talk about a topic that will be top of mind for many Ward 11 residents in the coming months – snow removal.

In early 2019, City Council requested a report to review winter operations, after an onslaught of issues in the downtown related to the safe clearing of sidewalks, parking restrictions, and streetcar disruptions from the previous winter. Recommendations from the resulting report made clear that Toronto needs a more robust approach to snow removal, and that 96 per cent of Toronto residents would support increased sidewalk snow removal services.

Snow clearing is an issue of equity and accessibility. When a sidewalk isn’t cleared, there are large groups of people whose lives become incredibly disrupted. Whether you are someone with accessibility requirements, an aging person, or new parents with a stroller, our services need to evolve alongside the growing needs of our residents. Further, as we have committed as a city to taking action on climate change, we need to continue to implement services that allow residents to build a greater reliance on active, or public, transportation.

At the last Infrastructure and Environment Committee, I brought forward an amendment to be voted on at City Council that would have pushed our winter services forward in a way that would actually address significant problems outlined in the original report.

Firstly, I wanted to increase the scope of the sidewalk clearing pilot, and push forward the kind of clearing residents are asking for and need in a bigger and broader way. This is an issue of equity and access for many in Toronto, especially as our population ages.

Secondly, I wanted to enhance snow clearing for bike lanes – ensuring that action would be taken within the first 48 hours of snow fall, and that staff use finer tools, such as brushes and narrower plows so as not to damage the existing infrastructure.

Lastly, I wanted to see the removal of parked cars (a “friendly tow”) to clear parking spaces adjacent to bike lanes, where necessary.

These amendments, did not carry, but I will continue to advocate for these necessary changes through the budget process in the coming months.

With Toronto constantly having to adapt to the impacts of climate change, it is critical that we continue to review and update service levels to provide a safe and reliable transportation network for everyone in our city.

The city’s snow-clearing services must continue to respond to this change, and I will continue to do everything possible to find a way to make enhanced snow clearing a reality for residents in Ward 11 and beyond.

Mike Layton is councillor for Ward 11 University-Rosedale.


Tags: Annex · Columns · Opinion

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