The Complete Streets Guidelines in Toronto

The accessibility movement in Toronto is spreading as the Complete Streets Guidelines Project gains footing in changing how we think about how we move in the city.

Haven’t heard of the Complete Streets Guidelines Project yet? Think it this way – what if we could ensure, as a city, that every street is safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities, as a pedestrian, cyclist, transit user or motorist. By doing so, the GTA becomes filled with healthy, livable neighborhoods littered with vibrant and attractive public spaces. The new Queen’s Quay strip is a great example of the project, where the Martin Goodman trail now connects the East and West waterfront, and abundant pedestrian space has been created surrounding the Harbourfront.

Currently, the Guidelines project is still in development, and this holistic approach to city planning and development will be implemented by 2016, with the commitment to train all relevant stakeholders to ensure the guidelines are followed properly.

The initiative itself mirrors our Four Pillars of Sustainability, as the city is full of streets that are, as the city puts it, “important public open spaces which connect people, places and support the development of sustainable, economically vibrant and complete communities.”

So here is how they are doing it:

  1. Balancing the needs and priorities of the various users and uses within the right-of-way, including provision for:
    1. The safe and efficient movement of pedestrians of all ages and abilities, cyclists, transit vehicles and users, goods and services vehicles, emergency vehicles, and motorists across the network; and
    2. Space for other street elements, such as utilities and services, trees and landscaping, green infrastructure, snow and stormwater management, wayfinding, boulevard cafés, marketing and vending, and street furniture;
  2. Improving the quality and convenience of active transportation options within all communities by giving full consideration to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit users;
  3. Reflecting differences in local context and character;
  4. Providing building access and address, as well as amenities such as view corridors, sky view, and sunlight; and
  5. Serving community destinations and public gathering places.

What does this mean for us at Torontonians? It means we will be able to take full advantage of city amenities, cycle from one end of the city to the other, and enjoy public space almost anywhere we are as a city-wide community.

While this is a new initiative in Toronto, the ideas are not new. According to the City of Toronto, over 700 jurisdictions in Canada and the US, including New York City, Chicago and Boston, each of which already have complete streets guidelines in place.   This potentially could give us an edge by joining the game later, we are able to learn from the development of other cities, and better understand what will work best in Toronto.

So what do you think we can do to make the most out of our city? Share your ideas with us, and let’s shape our vibrant city together.

For more information on the Complete Streets Guidelines project, click here.