Etobicoke is growing and while some like it and many others do not, it is already happening and so its better to address the issues that make this difficult on those who already live here. What do I see as a problem that I know many others see, well let me list the issues.
Lack of space in our schools.
Need more bus service to take into account the increase in riders.
Yup, you see our residential streets were not built for the traffic of today, they were built for the cars and population of the 1950s and 60s. Our area has grown but the infrastructure never really changed as it seems it was just assumed that the built up sub-divisions would stay as is and never need to change. We are very much a car dependent area and many through out the city seem to look down on us because of this but its not totally our fault.
Personally I’m very lucky as I do in fact have a lot of things I need in walking distance but that is total luck and not always the norm here in Etobicoke. I also have 2 bus routes to choose from to get to the subway but most are not so fortunate. Some have long commutes to Kipling Station with buses that may only run every half hour or so outside of rush hour. Our ridership in fact seems to be very focused on rush hour service and so if you work shifts or want to use the TTC for other errands you sometimes need to work in a lot of extra time for waiting. This makes those who can drive, drive.
Well why not hop on a bike … many from outside the area ask. Why, because many of us value life over death and don’t want to take a chance commuting with groceries on the open road with little to no protections. We want to make it home alive! That may seem a bit over dramatic but it is in fact the truth (sad fact). The further north you go from the lake the fewer bike paths there are in place to make it a possibility.
One example is a local road that has a path on the road no bigger than a bike itself and the car lanes barely fit to give brave bikers any room, it's just not safe. We have some park paths and they are used a lot by those biking for recreation but that is about it. I know that if we had the infrastructure it would be used but many won’t hold their breath because it seems more like a dream than reality in this part of the city. People are busy and they feel that this is an issue that they will never win, so why bother!
The issue of increasing housing availability was a hot topic at last weeks Toronto City Council meeting. There was a lot of talk about city housing plans and many may have noticed that one Etobicoke Councillor seemed very concerned about increasing developments in Etobicoke Centre and he had a great deal of concern about the idea of multiplex housing. One of his biggest concerns as he mentioned was a lack of parking if one property became housing with multiple units. The talk about parking and changes in neighbourhood makeup honestly sounds awful if you have no context.
Well, even with context it is a pretty sad representation of the area and I will say very loudly from the rooftops that I DO NOT agree with his stance and I know many other who also share my opinion.
But I do understand some of the concerns of some of these homeowners and that their concerns are in fact coming from a good place so let me explain (and yes it once again comes into the issue of traffic worries go figure)! The council meeting did not bring these reasons to the table.
As I mentioned earlier our neighbourhoods are based on a design when families had mainly 1 big car. Each home was built with at least a driveway and some even had the very modern idea of a carport (basically an awning to cover your car)! In some neighborhoods you even got a nice single car garage for your family vehicle! Apartment buildings around here seem to have tried to make one parking space for each apartment which was sufficient in the early 60’s but now this makes supply issues an actual concern for many tenants in the area. But now 60 years later, many driveways in the area have multiple cars in the driveway. You can usually tell when someone on the street is having a party because cars are halfway down the street.
I know this is not a unique issue and it is a problem around the city, especially in areas where the roads are much older and were designed BEFORE cars and somehow those residents are managing! And yes, I am a believer in the fact that Etobicoke needs to learn to look outside the box and adapt to change! But the idea of more cars on our roads in areas with A LOT of schools worries many residents, especially older residents who know that our local kids were once able to easily walk to school and in recent years this is becoming more of an out right danger if kids need to cross roads, even smaller local roads.
The ACTUAL concern is if more people live in a single space then that could lead to more on street parking, which leads to less room on the street for drivers, and could lead to drivers paying less attention to pedestrians which could lead to an increased possibility of traffic accidents.
Many areas have a close cluster of schools and start around the same time. This leads to a huge number of parents rushing from one to another to get everyone to class on time. This issue is brought to local council offices many times during the year but when those who hold office take years to get the needed improvements made (if ever), the problems just get bigger and more out of hand.
The reality is many in Etobicoke are having a hard time seeing the benefits that these new developments may bring to our community. We see a broken system and we see that other areas and other cities around the world have great ways to make things work BUT we see our local officials desperate to keep a small number of residents happy and in the past. The comments made last week do not depict the many but unfortunately most of the time it feels only the few have a voice.
This is why community-building is so important and one that we need to continue working on over the next months and years. We know this here in Etobicoke and many are excited to see that there is already a spark of hope in a new era as Etobicoke-South has finally got new blood representing their local concerns. My hope is that some of the thoughts and ideas that spread through Ward 3 may generate new conversations and actions into other areas of Etobicoke, time will only tell! In the meantime those of us who understand the need for more housing will continue to try to work with local officials to get the changes we need made sooner rather than later because we all need to be ready for changes that are coming whether one likes it or not!
In the weeks and months to come I will be sharing the development applications that are in place for Etobicoke and we can work out together the benefits, negatives, and possible ideas we have to make these plans better for everyone; for both current and future area residents.
City consultations are in place for a reason and we should all take advantage especially when the issues affect our homes and families!
The process to find the apps is not always easy and so I am just going to list the major areas today for reference and then in the new year I will start to dig into the nitty gritty (which for some reason is really fun for me)!
Areas of Major Growth in Etobicoke
*Etobicoke holds an Urban Growth Centre as per the plans set out by the provincial government. It is considered Etobicoke City Centre and runs along Dundas Street and Kipling Ave. The area is surrounding the area of Kipling Station and the six points area which is now being called The Kip District.
*Further growth is being contained in a more residential area that lines both sides of Highway 427. These are large multi-building condo developments and include a large redevelopment plan on the current site of Cloverdale Mall.
*In the Markland Wood neighbourhood you will find a number of plans popping up around existing condo and apartment buildings.
*A bit further east you come across the busy area of Bloor and Islington which already has many large towers and is also a local commercial hub. The density is expected to increase significantly with applications wanting to place many more new builds.
*Moving north there are developments along Eglington that will one day benefit from the LRT if ever completed. Unfortunately, at the moment it will make driving and taking transit more difficult.
*Other large areas are growing with separate plans in place just to deal with new communities which include the lands on Sherway Gardens, the old Christie plant, and the area around the Mimico Go Station.
If I have missed others please feel free to pop it into the comments!
Until next time stay safe and warm,
Thanks for reading The Etobicoke Voice ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Your blog is a breath of fresh air! There are so few sources of news and insight into what’s happening in Etobicoke. Thank you!!!
Thanks Noel! I miss the days when Etobicoke used to have a free paper available everywhere called Etobicoke Life. It was available all over the community and kept everyone connected with what was going on and so I hope over time that this can do the job that paper once was able to achieve!