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Plan to ease DVP traffic awaits councillors

Proposed rapid bus system likely to pit wealthy of Rosedale against suburbanites


Thursday, March 17, 2005 Page A14

Toronto councillors returning from the March break will have to decide whether to proceed with a controversial plan to reduce gridlock in the Don Valley corridor by moving people out of their cars and onto buses rolling along a proposed north-south rapid bus route.

On April 7, a joint meeting of council’s planning and transportation committee and works committee will consider whether to recommend to council that the Don Valley North Transportation Master Plan be given a formal environmental assessment, councillor Jane Pitfield, chairwoman of the works committee, said yesterday.

At this stage, the plan, which could cost anywhere from $14-million to $65-million, depending on what is built, is designed to increase transit use; increase the number of passenger vehicles with two or more passengers; and increase the capacity of the road system by changes such as improved signals.

The most controversial proposal is a rapid bus transit plan along Don Mills Road that would bring passengers from the north into the Sheppard subway line. At its southern end, the buses would run from Don Mills across Overlea Boulevard to link with the Bayview Avenue extension, ending at Castle Frank station on the Bloor subway line.

With a lineup that pits the wealthy and powerful inner-city homeowners in Rosedale against both the outer suburbs and the poor in Flemington Park and Thorncliffe Park, the prospective battle has echoes of the 1960s battle in which the political and financial clout of Forest Hill and the Annex stopped the Spadina expressway.

Ms. Pitfield, who supports the concepts in the plan, hopes it will not come to a similar end.

The joint meeting has been delayed so that a consultant, retained by Rosedale ratepayer groups that oppose the plan, could study the proposal, Ms. Pitfield said.

John Hogarth, vice-president of the North Rosedale Ratepayers Association, said that the group questions two key parts of the bus rapid transit plan — a proposed extension of a small street, Redway Road, and the capability of the Bloor subway to take in more passengers at Castle Frank station.

Under the plan, the Redway extension would be a dedicated roadway that buses would use to get from Millwood Road to Bayview Avenue, but Mr. Hogarth said the ratepayers believe that it is inevitable that the extension would eventually be rebuilt to take cars, which would end up on Rosedale streets.

He also said that “there is no capacity at Castle Frank” to take additional passengers on the Bloor subway at rush hour.

Ms. Pitfield said she believes that, with careful design, the problems raised by ratepayers can be met.

“We can’t be NIMBY (not in my back yard) about this,” Ms. Pitfield said in an interview.

It is possible to build a road, much like a rail line, on which only buses can run, and she said it might be possible to build a people- moving system that would get passengers up from the bottom of the Don Valley to the subway station, instead of building a special bus ramp as the plan suggests.

“For every objection, there is a solution,” she said.

The city started work on the plan in December, 2002, shortly after council defeated a proposal by then- councillor Paul Sutherland to expand the Don Valley Parkway, but council did allocate money to develop a transportation plan for the corridor, which is stretched to the limit during rush hour.