The issue of transportation in and around the Don valley corridor is complex, like most urban / natural heritage issues.
Regionally, we need to curb urban sprawl that could threaten natural areas such as the Oak Ridges Moraine and gobble up agricultural lands while increasing air pollution and noise as well as reducing water quality and the overall quality of life.
Urban intensification, however, along with increased mass transit to reduce greenhouse gas and protect urban air quality, may threaten already stressed natural heritage features in and around the Don, including both specific sites such as the Environmentally Significant Areas of Crothers Woods and Burke Brook, as well as the urban canopy in general.
As a result, FODE's efforts on the transportation front consistently call for natural heritage protection, community-based planning, and improved mass transit.
Over the years, this has lead us to express serious concerns about transportation plans focused primarily on expanding the car-carrying capacity of local roads, including an early proposal for the extension of Lesley Street, the first proposal to expand Redway Road to four lanes, and the concept floated in 2002 to add two lanes to the Don Valley Parkway.
Following the sound public thrashing of that proposal, in 2003 the City announced the creation of a Don Valley Corridor Transportation Master Plan Study, to develop a strategic framework to address transportation in an area between Victoria Park and Leslie Street between Lake Ontario and Steeles Avenue. Information on this Master Plan is available at http://www.toronto.ca/planning/dvp.htm .
In the first round of public consultations on this Plan, held in 2003, our position was that FODE would retain an open mind to elements of this plan that could offer significant improvements toward the evolution of Toronto as a more healthy and sustainable city based on improvements for mass transit, greenhouse gas reduction, and urban air quality, but continue to oppose any single-minded focus on road expansion that will harm the natural heritage of the watershed without extensive sustainability co-benefits.
Following a second round of public consultations, held in April, 2004, we are pleased state that this Plan appears to be based on increased mass transit and improved traffic flows while incorporating a vision that includes reduced air emissions and limits on the environmental impact of moving millions of people through and around the Don Valley.
We extend our congradulations to City staff engaged in this plan, along with our sincere appreciation for the sustainability framework for the Plan. We look forward to continuing to submit our comments to the City to help ensure the best possible protection for the Don River, the valley, the nearby environment, and neighbourhood health.
Please cick here to see the full Position Paper of May 6, 2004, (PDF file, 156 kb).