Bronson pleas fall on deaf ears



woman enjoying the pedestrian environment along Bronson today. Will tomorrow bring anything better?


The City held its only public meeting on the reconstruction and widening of Bronson Avenue last night. Over 200 citizens attended. Only 130 chairs had been set out.

The crowd was not hostile, but was suspicious of the City and harshly critical. City staff have intimated that they agree the street should not have been widened back in the 60’s, but now we are stuck with it. That doesn’t explain why they insist it needs to be widened another 2′.

The City had the usual poster display with glamorous statements about putting pedestrians first. The cognitive dissonance between the professed objectives and the reality on the street and the current plans only served to annoy attendees. The meeting opened with a Powerpoint presentation projected on a wavy curtain. It was like trying to read text on the bottom of a rippling pond.

None of the presenters came across with any personality. They droned on reading the text waving on the wall while the audience fidgeted. Mutters of “stop condescending”, “bafflegab”, “unreal!” could be heard through the crowd all evening.

The City had supplied a moderator to separate the engineers from the crowd. A good attempt, but not well executed. She talked too much. The City also supplied a handsome gent to stand conspicuously near the front to “take notes” of expressed concerns.

Once the mike was opened, a long line of residents expressed annoyance and frustration with the planning process and the City’s result.

Q:How could the City come up with selected course of action that went against the public wish, the PAC, the Councillor, the landlords, the business owners, the residents, the school councils, and the cyclists? A: the City plan is in the public interest, because we say so.

Q: what about school children trying to get to school, or the park, what about the number of residents who, by raising their hands, said they had had too “close calls” using the crosswalks? A: wider car lanes are the in the public interest.

Q: what about the wall of slush and muck dragged along the slipstream from the cars and trucks and buses travelling so fast so close to the sidewalk? A: the wider lane etc etc.

Q: What about the loss of the few mature trees along the street, just so cars can go faster…  A: we will plant new mini-trees on the residential side streets.

Q: What about contentious issues like the Somerset, Gladstone and Arlington intersections? A: after approving the plan, we will look at those intersections again to see if something can be done, maybe.

Q: the sidewalks are too narrow now. A: the new sidewalk will be a “minimum” of 2m wide “where possible”. (Sorry, no details as to where it will be substandard). Oh yes, that new 2m sidewalk will have utility poles, traffic signs, lampposts, etc all in that 2m width, and oh yeah, the new posts will be mounted further into the sidewalk that currently, “to promote safety” [for cars]. And the new sidewalk will sandwich people between the curb and the walls of the buildings, because “the houses are too close to the street”.

Q: how well does this plan fulfill the lofty statements and visions of those experts the City flies in to provide seminars at City hall, on “livable cities” etc? Do any of them recommend wider roads? A: mumble mumble mumble.

And so on it went. The City came across as dull and boring and having stone ears. Their protests that wider lanes won’t result in traffic going faster were risible if they weren’t so pathetic.

Sometime during the meeting, I heard a loud thump elsewhere in the building. I think it was some engineer’s framed certificate of professional conduct leaping off the wall in despair.

Mayor Watson’s email is


7 thoughts on “Bronson pleas fall on deaf ears

  1. Just so I am clear – the lanes need to be widened to city standards, but the sidewalks will only meet standard “where possible”.

    Pedestrians First!

  2. Just so I understand this: the exact reasons for the residents’ complaints are the same reasons why City Hall won’t heed those same complaints?

  3. I watched the news report on the CBC evening news and the fellow from the City was busy rhyming off a whole litany of issues with Bronson, all of which sounded like good reasons to put Bronson on a road diet yet the conclusion was that these issues were the reason not to do it.

    A bit of irony in all this is that to do all the sewer and watermain works (i.e. the raison d’être for rebuilding Bronson at all) the City’s contractor is going to have to close Bronson down to just two lanes and possibly even just one from time to time. Moreover, we just know from experience elsewhere that the road will look a bombsite so traffic will be slowed and calmed like never before. In other words, all the alleged problems of putting Bronson on a 3-lane road diet will be present in spades during the reconstruction itself.

  4. Eric – Yes, the City brings in many outside experts to deliver inspiring speeches about the amazing things happening in NYC, Copenhagen, Vancouver etc. to improve walkability and bikeability. The problem is they are all architects and planners, NOT engineers (the folks you are battling over Bronson). There is the real disconnect: no more lectures from the “eggheads” in these places, we need them to send their engineers to talk. .Their P. Eng’s talking to our P. Eng’s so it’s in a dialect they will understand. And not after hours at City Hall but during business hours at Constellation Drive (where most of the City’s traffic engineers work).

  5. I wonder how many people would show up for an impromptu “walkathon” to show exactly how terrible Bronson is to some of the politicians (invite all of the councillors and make it for 4 PM in the afternoon).

    On another note, will the city guarantee that the sidewalk plows will be able to plow every part of the sidewalk? If they are less than 2.0 metres with poles in the centre, I am not certain they can do it.

  6. Has anyone noticed that the city is trying to turn Bronson into another community-killer like King Edward?

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