Construction and traffic mismanagement show need for new leadership in Parkdale-High Park

Sep 4, 2022

As schools start this week, Roncesvalles Avenue will once again be torn up again as the city replaces transit “bump outs” that were built at the wrong height for new streetcars.

This is just the latest in the endless mismanagement of construction projects in Parkdale-High Park that have closed businesses, shut down transit lines and negatively impacted residents and safe mobility in the neighbourhood.

“There’s no excuse for a community to experience this repeated level of disruption and mismanagement,” said City Council candidate Siri Agrell. “These closures affect people’s lives, kill people’s businesses and impact all kinds of mobility at a time when we should be doing everything we can to support local businesses, help people get back to work and move around safely.”

The latest closures come after years of mismanaged infrastructure projects and small business interventions in the Roncesvalles area and across Parkdale High Park.

Over the past 16 years, Roncesvalles has lived through:

  • Repeatedly mismanaged street and sidewalk construction, killing businesses;
  • Endless King-Queen-Roncesvalles-Queensway intersection closure, over schedule and budget;
  • The ongoing disruption of Queensway, Queen and King streetcar service;
  • Onerous bylaws limiting the number of restaurants and patios;
  • Denial of improved CafeTO patios.

As the municipal election kicks into high gear in advance of the Oct 24 vote, construction and road mismanagement has emerged as a major issue in every neighbourhood of Parkdale-High Park. 

In addition to the ongoing closures on Roncesvalles, residents have been negatively impacted by:

  • Ongoing closures on the Queensway, increasing traffic on Lakeshore Blvd and causing the cancellation of ActiveTO;
  • Lakeshore Blvd closures and the Molson Indy pushing high levels of traffic onto Springhurst in south Parkdale;
  • Increased noise from construction and dangerous high speed racing along the Gardiner and Lakeshore Boulevard West.
  • Delayed completion of storm sewer upgrades at Bloor Street West and Old Mill, including ongoing staging in Etienne Brule park, limiting access to the public space;
  • Slow reconstruction of the Dundas West Station Loop;
  • TTC station upgrades that impacted a popular Bloor West child care centre;
  • Ongoing failure to redesign dangerous Parkside Drive to reduce car speeds;
  • High levels of diverted traffic into residential areas, putting children and other pedestrians at risk.

“It is a councillor’s job to work with city staff to minimize the impacts of infrastructure projects on their residents and make sure work is done well and on time,” said Agrell. “We also need councillors who are going to address these issues at their core: why are so many projects dragging on and going over budget and why are so many RFPs failing, like the recent cancellation of pothole repair work across the city?”

Siri Agrell has a long track record on city issues. She was the urban affairs reporter for The Globe and Mail, senior staff to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier of Ontario, and Director of Strategic Initiatives for Mayor John Tory from 2015 to 2018, when she oversaw the implementation of government modernization projects, the Kings Street Transit Priority project and the Bloor Street bike lane pilot. Since then, she has been an advisor to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Urban Institute.

“We can’t just shrug our shoulders and say this is a part of city life,” said Agrell. “This many mismanaged projects happening simultaneously in our ward is a failure of local leadership and shows that we need city councillors who understand how to scope, schedule, implement and manage projects properly.”