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Feeling congested? City wants to hear about your problems with getting around

Jennifer Keesmaat thinks we’re congested in pretty much every way we can be. The city’s new chief planner figures we don’t have enough room to drive, seats on transit, room to cycle, or even proper ways to get around on foot.

She thinks it’s high time we talk about it, and she’s behind a series of public discussions on the subject of what she broadly refers to as moving around in the city.

"We’ve never had a big conversation about this in over a decade of being an amalgamated city," Keesmaat says.

Though the first phase of these talks and analysis are being conducted in conjunction with Metrolinx, which is considering transportation across the region, parts two and three are going to be about identifying Toronto’s own priorities and deciding how to pay for them.

"We’ll be talking about how far behind we are," she says, "because we’re really far behind as a city. We’re really under-investing, and it’s really important for people to know that."

She's optimistic that talking about what might be done to improve traffic congestion, transit overload, bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure might not only be mutually educational, but could lower some of the traditional tensions surrounding these issues.

"I'm hoping that the way this process is different is that we're providing good information, and I hope we've reached a moment that we can recognize the magnitude of the problem that we have and we can maybe set aside some of our more parochial considerations and take a larger, city-building view of this," she says. "In an ideal scenario, there’ll be something for everyone and the worst case scenario is that there's a risk that nothing happens, and that people stay hunkered down in their camps. My hope is that by stimulating this public discourse, we’ll begin to move beyond the positions that people have held in the past and that have led us to stalemate."

Things seem to be off to a good start. Keesmaat says that in the first two days of the initiative, about 1,600 people responded to what she calls the "really funky" online tool.

The first meetings ere Monday, the second set is this afternoon at 4 p.m. and this evening at 6:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the Scarborough Civic Centre, followed by two more at the same times at the North York Civic Centre on Feb. 11 and City Hall on the 13th.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Keesmaat

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

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