A person can feel a little helpless about the state of the world right now. But here’s something you can do — it’s nearby, it’s easy, it’s right, and it might make you feel a little better.
The Planning Department and Dialog consultants have released a draft of the North King’s Town Visioning Report & Preliminary Market Analysis. We only have until Tuesday, November 15th to suggest changes to it — and it does need changes! It is important that we get this right, because this is the document that will guide Phase Two of the Secondary Plan. And Phase Two will be the guiding policy document for the future of the Inner Harbour and Old Industrial Area.
We need you to submit your suggestions for changes to Sonya Bolton, Senior Planner, at email@example.com. The more people who write, the more likely we will see a report that will help, not hurt.
In our view, the following changes are absolutely critical.
ONE: Here is the report’s first mention of the WSE:
“The Wellington Street Extension was discussed frequently during public and stakeholder engagement events over the course of the Study. Opinions varied: some members of the public made clear they were not in support of the Wellington Street Extension, in whole, or in part. Others were receptive to building a portion of the extension, from John Counter Street to Railway Street, through the Old Industrial Area. Some expressed support for building the full extension.” (p. 21)
This is simply inaccurate! Here is what we think the paragraph should say:
“The Wellington Street Extension was discussed frequently during public and stakeholder engagement events over the course of the Study. Most of the opinions provided by the public were strongly against the Wellington Street Extension, especially the southern section below Railway Street. Very few expressed support for building the full extension. Members of the public have voiced a strong need to find solutions to transportation issues that do not include building a road along a quiet waterfront park or a recreational trail.”
Our contention that nearly all of the comments about the WSE in the public consultations were against it being built is based on the City’s own summaries of the consultations. See our previous blog post for more details.
TWO: Several sections of the report need to be strengthened to protect our waterfront and Douglas Fluhrer Park in particular. Some possibilities are:
p. 53: explicitly list our waterfront parks in Principle 5: “Conserve natural and heritage resources, and Belle Park and Douglas Fluhrer Park in particular.”
p. 55 & 58: include all of our waterfront parks, not only Belle Island, in Big Move 5: “Protect the green space in Belle Park, Belle Island and Douglas Fluhrer Park. Conserve Belle Island as a naturalized area sacred to Indigenous People.”
p. 66, Section 6.2.5, Natural Heritage, needs to be strengthened. Again, all of the waterfront parks should be listed. As well, the word “should” must be changed to “must” in the following paragraph, as highlighted: “New buildings or structures developed along the river’s edge MUST abide by setbacks that mitigate the development’s negative ecological impact and protect for a ‘ribbon of life’ along the waterfront.”
p. 73, Section 6.3.8: the report states there is a potential for higher density development along the waterfront. High density development does not belong along the waterfront.
THREE: The report appears to favour the northern section of the WSE, from Railway Street to John Counter Boulevard. It needs to be changed to make sure the full implications of this road are considered before a decision is made.
Let us first remind you of some important concerns about that northern section:
- the WSE is slated to run alongside the new K&P trail. It would destroy an only-just-constructed attractive bimodal (cycling & pedestrian) trail through green space, making it nothing more than a bike lane.
- there is an urgent need for good cycling access from the north to downtown, given the narrowness of Montreal and Division Streets. The city has invested a great deal in bike lanes recently, but they all end as they approach downtown. With the report’s emphasis on “pedestrian priority” streets, the place for bicycles is underemphasized and the K&P (without the WSE) could be a crucial part of the active transportation network.
- the report shows no assessment of the benefit of this road, and fails to either justify its $10,000,000 cost, or propose a study to do so. In fact the report suggests that there is little market demand for development in the OIA, so it is not clear why such investment would pay off.
- there is a risk that the northern section of the WSE could potentially be used in the future to argue for the southern section being built.
With this in mind, some revisions to the report that we would like to see are:
All of the maps in the report that show the WSE with the following in the legend, “Potential Wellington Street extension: Subject to further study during the next phase of the Secondary Planning Process” should be changed to show the WSE or a bike/pedestrian only corridor (i.e., the K&P trail) with the legend: “Potential Wellington Street extension or bimodal transportation corridor for bicycles and pedestrians: Subject to further study during the next phase of the Secondary Planning Process.” And the visual needs to show the dotted green line for that corridor going all the way north to John Counter Blvd.
On p. 74, Section 6.4.2, Movement Network, the last “Opportunity” describes the vision for the WSE. This paragraph needs to state that the entire WSE needs to be re-evaluated through a transportation study, not only the southern portion, and that a bimodal corridor here only for bicycles and pedestrians must be considered as an alternative that would promote Active Transportation and provide a continuous commuter cycling pathway.
on p. 81 the report says that “the transportation study should revaluate the need for the Wellington Street Extension, in consultation with the public, using a study framework that balances transportation, place-making, and urban design objectives. The study framework must also prioritize the Vision’s objective to create a pedestrian-oriented environment and multi-modal street network. It must include a rigorous approach to public consultation, beyond what is typically included in an Environmental Assessment (EA) process.” That’s all very well, but there are more factors to be considered than “transportation, place-making, and urban design.” This list should also include waterfront protection, environmental sustainability, and cultural heritage character.
And, last but not least:
The vision should cross-reference other city policies such as the Sustainability Plan, the Culture Plan, the emerging youth employment strategy, and so on — and it should state that — if need is demonstrated for them — alternatives to the WSE need to be found.
Please write to Sonya Bolton, as above, and please copy us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you! — Mary McCollam and Laura Murray