Media Release – City proposes unprecedented investments to create space on Danforth Avenue and support the East End’s small business COVID-19 recovery

For Immediate Release Monday May 25, 2020

With Ontario’s economy gradually reopening, the City of Toronto is taking unprecedented steps to invest in the small business recovery on the Danforth through the ActiveTO program. This summer, the City is proposing to spend approximately $4 million to create more public space and patios, make a more beautiful street, and pilot active transportation infrastructure on the Danforth from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road.

In a report going to City Council on Thursday, Toronto’s Economic Development & Culture and Transportation Services departments, with the support of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, are recommending an emergency implementation plan to support the COVID-19 recovery on Danforth and provide a safety valve for the TTC customers on the Bloor-Danforth TTC line. The City will encourage residents to enjoy the Danforth as a destination, now and into the future, by introducing street beautification initiatives, creating patio spaces, and adding infrastructure to safely walk, ride and roll through.

The pilot proposal would maintain on-street parking on both sides of Danforth while introducing turning lanes at intersections to help traffic flow, allow for additional space for patios to support local restaurants, and give businesses the space needed to resume as quickly and safely as possible.

Councillor Brad Bradford, Ward 19 – Beaches-East York, said: “The road to economic recovery goes through main street. This proposal for the Danforth is an unprecedented action to restore consumer confidence and create a safety valve for residents relying on the TTC to get around. If we’re going to kickstart the economic recovery, we have to give our communities more options to get to, and enjoy, the Danforth. Naturally, it will take time for us all to get comfortable, even as restrictions are lifted. The best way to help is to give people the space they need to feel safe and enjoy an attractive, local alternative to shopping online.”

Councillor Paula Fletcher, Ward 14 – Toronto-Danforth said: “Vibrant main streets are the heart and soul of our communities. Enhancing the pedestrian experience and safety, adding cycling infrastructure while at the same time accommodating traffic flow and parking are important elements to encourage neighbourhood travel to the Danforth and help businesses at this difficult time.”

Mayor John Tory said: “Right now, we are seeing car traffic and pedestrian traffic at an all-time low while bike traffic has stayed about the same. We know that will change in the coming weeks and months. We need more bike infrastructure to help people move around the city as the restart gets underway. We are working together to make sure we make major investments in the Danforth to help businesses have the space they need to recover economically and make sure residents have ways to get around the community and their city safely. Bikes bring business and will help drive economic recovery. We are going about this in a responsible, common sense way with public health, economic development, transportation services and local councillors all involved in making common sense, health focused decisions which broaden out our transportation network while helping main street businesses in a post pandemic world.”

Dr Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health said: “People will need more space to keep their distance when the time is right for restaurants to open up. This plan will help expand those areas and promote active transportation along the Danforth. Toronto Public Health has long supported, separated bike lanes to keep cyclists safe, and promote active transportation. These lanes provide more options for active transportation to keep our residents moving safely around our city.”

Billy Dertillis, Chair, The Danny BIA & owner, Red Rocket Coffee said: “We are all feeling the effects of the lock-down, as individuals and small businesses. This proposal helps both. It is an important step to bring our main streets and our communities back to life, giving our businesses a fighting chance. Business owners along the Danforth have been calling for all levels of government to show their support, and the City is stepping up in a big way here.”

Audrey Kvedaras, vice-chair of the Danforth East Community Association said: “DECA has long supported a Complete Street vision for the Danforth; one that prioritizes safety for pedestrians of all ages, cyclists, public transit users and drivers. The entire community benefits when our main street is vibrant, inclusive and a safe destination. By making a more spacious, attractive and accessible Danforth at this time, businesses and East Enders can follow the new community health guidelines as we transition to a vibrant and healthy new normal.”

TTC ridership across Toronto is down by around 80% and there has been a significant drop in 13,000 pedestrians and 27,000 people boarding transit on the Danforth during pre-COVID peaks. Through this plan, local residents and those from surrounding communities will have alternative options to access the Danforth while practising physical distancing.

BACKGROUND & MATERIALS

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MEDIA CONTACTS

Rishab Mehan, Chief of Staff, Office of Councillor Brad Bradford
647-667-4920, Rishab.Mehan2@toronto.ca

Laura Anonen, Office of Councillor Paula Fletcher
T: 416-461-3100   E: Laura.Anonen@toronto.ca