Today, Toronto City Council accepted City of Toronto staff recommendations to treat ActiveTO major road closures on Lake Shore Boulevard West as limited special events that are to be planned and advertised in advance, rather than operated as regular recurring weekend events.
As the City staff report noted, in identifying dates for any future ActiveTO closures on Lake Shore Boulevard West, officials will take into consideration the number and location of planned street events on that weekend, construction impacts on parallel corridors, access to adjacent venues and impacts to traffic. Staff will also consider coordinating with other event organizers, such as was done this year with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Additionally, Transportation Services is continuing ActiveTO programming on Bayview Avenue and The Meadoway throughout the summer of 2022.
ActiveTO was introduced in May 2020 as a quick-start COVID-19 response program. It was designed to provide more space for people to practise physical distancing while outside, support the overall well-being of residents and to quickly connect and expand Toronto’s cycling network by installing safe, separated temporary bike routes that mirror major transit lines.
Toronto businesses, workplaces and major street events have now reopened and residents are returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic activities and travel patterns. Two Lake Shore Boulevard West ActiveTO events have taken place this year and staff have assessed the traffic impacts of closures without public health restrictions. The delays to nearby traffic experienced in 2022 were measured to be greater than those in 2020 and 2021 due to the return of pre-pandemic motor vehicle volumes and patterns.
Findings from staff analysis:
• Weekday peak period congestion is approximately 90 to 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
• Weekend travel times citywide are approximately eight to 10 per cent longer than last summer, and approximately 20 per cent longer than the summer of 2020 when there was limited congestion overall.
• Eastbound travel times on the Gardiner Expressway from Highway 427 to York Street were an average of 21 minutes on weekend days with no closures in May and June 2022.
• During ActiveTO on Monday, May 23, the travel time in the same area was 39 minutes, an increase of 18 minutes.
• During ActiveTO on Sunday, May 29, the travel time was 48 minutes, a further increase due to a crash on the Gardiner Expressway. Travel times were observed to jump to almost 70 minutes as a result of the crash, demonstrating that any impacts to the network add significantly to travel times.
In the summer of 2022, Lake Shore Boulevard West will resume its place as a host venue and key access route for large-scale events. The total number of permitted street events in this area in 2020 was zero, with only one event in 2021, and ten events so far for 2022. In addition, there are 250 major events planned in the vicinity until the end of
the year, many of which will take place on summer weekends. These events include the following: concerts and events at Ontario Place venues, major sporting events, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, the Honda Indy, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE).
Council also directed the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the General Manager, Transportation Services to consider quick start actions which improve pedestrian and cycling amenities as part of the 2023 Western Waterfront Master Plan update.
“We have made huge progress reopening Toronto and that progress is going to continue. City staff are working to accommodate and balance, as much as possible, all the major events across the city that are now back. ActiveTO was a great pandemic program and City staff will work to make sure the program continues where and when it is possible.”
– Mayor John Tory
“As Toronto businesses, workplaces and major street events have now reopened and many activities have resumed, it’s important to re-evaluate ActiveTO and other programs that were initiated during COVID-19 and adjust them to the changing needs of residents, businesses and visitors to Toronto.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
SOURCE City of Toronto