The Preston-Carling CDP has a couple of sub-studies going on. The usual gang of high priced Toronto consultants has been brought in to make everything right.
One of their proposals was to “recognize” Bayswater as a collector street; rather than a ordinary residential street. This, the traffic consultant told us, just tidies up the nomenclature.
But it means way more than that. Some alert citizen involved in the process flagged the community association that these changes have consequences.
The residents organized, very well, and started an impressive sign campaign:
They got an impressive number of homeowners to plant matching lawn signs before our global-warming inspired early winter deep freeze.
And the campaign worked. The Councillor has promised it won’t happen. Presumably she makes this promise after checking with the
Highrise Approving Department Planning Dept that they will back her up. She says… I’m calling for the removal of any consideration to reclassify Bayswater Avenue from a local road to a collector from the plan*.
This isn’t the victory it first appears. I think we should NOT remove Bayswater from the plan. But not because I think it is a collector.
The City has three options when it wants to get something in plan:
1. propose it in the plan, pass the plan (WIN)
2. propose it in the plan, retreat under opposition, remove it from the plan, then bring it forward again at another time (partial WIN)
3. propose it in the plan, and conclude in writing that it should remain unchanged. (Lose)
So the City wins in 2 out 3 options.
By removing it from the Plan, it goes unmentioned in the plan. Then five years from now, the idea comes to life again. Look, say the planners, the status of this road was last set 20 years ago, etc, it’s outdated, time for another look, etc.
Local residents (at least the long timers) will remember the battle like it was yesterday. But they won’t find any record of a decision that says Bayswater should be a local street.
Lest the kind reader think I am being cynical, I have seen exactly that scenario play out numerous times in my involvement with community planning.
In fact, some of it happened just in the last few months. The City is in the final plan stages for a pedestrian bridge over the OTrain cut straight in alignment with Hickory/Adeline. Then they unilaterally moved the bridge away from that alignment, so that a road bridge could be put there. Big surprise, the next CDP promptly recommended a road bridge there because the “street grid (on each side of the cut) wants to be reconnected”. The neighbours went ballistic; the road bridge was removed from the Dark plan. But really, its just postponed to a more opportune time. There will not be a record of deciding against a road bridge.
And in the same plan, the proposed connection of Prince of Wales to Sherwood … same deal. In the face of lots of opposition, it has been removed from the plan. But the plan will not, the planners confirmed, actually recommend against it. Thus being silent, they can bring it up again. And again.
And being very cynical, I’ll say that recommending against it isn’t any guarantee it won’t someday be flogged as a new idea whose time has come. But it does make it more difficult.
The City is not above rearranging the facts after the fact, either. After multiple years of being IN the plan zone, the City decided not to rezone the small houses on the west side of the OTrain (behind Railway Street) which are indistinguishable from the small houses on the east side of the OTrain, which it decided to raze and redevelop with high rises and mid rise towers. How to hide the discrepancy? The City now produces documents that show the Preston-Carling CDP as never having included the Railway Street area. This both avoids the comparison and its lack of rationale, and means that in five years time when someone assembles some lots on Railway, they can submit a planning rationale that points out the area is plan is 25 or 30 years old and my, but how things have changed and the plan is out of date.
Another example: back when I was on a previous Preston plan, the city examined the residential neighbourhood north of Somerset, and decided it was fine, and rezoning wasn’t required along Preston. South of Somerset, lots of rezoning. But they wouldn’t say in the final plan that the area north of Somerset was fine as it was. Instead, we left depending on an even earlier, even more “out of date” study.
So that is why I say it is NOT enough to remove Bayswater from the plan. It should be in plan, recording a deliberate decision to affirm the current neighbourhood street status.
*Here is Councillor Hobbs’s letter to residents on the subject: