Residents who objected and Scarborough councillors who agreed with them have won a fight to keep bike paths out of three waterfront parks.
The City of Toronto planned to build the paths last year to fill in gaps in its Waterfront Trail that forced cyclists to move along an often-busy Kingston Road.
Ratepayers near the upper section of Bluffers Park, however, said a hard-surface trail would damage the space they called Chine Meadow. Their resistance to the "bikeway implementation plan" prompted a motion by Scarborough Southwest Councillor Gary Crawford, passed in July, removing the Bluffers path from the plan until a "proper dialogue" with residents took place.
Gone for the same reason were proposed paths through Harrison Estates and Grey Abbey Park, other public green spaces on the waterfront.
City and conservation authority staff engaged residents on two of the pathways - the Grey Abbey link was never examined publicly - but after the proposals were dropped from a committee meeting at city hall this week, it was clear they had given up.
"We've done consultation with the community. Based on that, we've decided not to proceed with the projects at this time," Dan Egan, city manager of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, said Wednesday.
Egan said the decision was made "largely because of the community opposition to the projects," adding staff had tried to find common ground with residents around Bluffers but there didn't seem to be any.
Crawford, who was undecided on the proposals at a public meeting in January, later announced his own opposition to the Bluffers path and advised residents on how they should address members of the public works and infrastructure committee, who were expected to vote at Wednesday's meeting on staff recommendations for the trails. A strategy meeting Monday at Bluffer's Restaurant was canceled, he said, when the meeting agenda was released and the three South Scarborough links weren't on it.
Crawford said he didn't know staff would withdraw the proposals and stopped short of calling the decision a victory.
The consultations he wanted when Toronto Council removed the paths from the plan did happen, he said. "I needed to go to the community."
Crawford said the value of the upper section of Bluffers - identified by a sign as a city park only last year - was apparent during a difficult process, and that the space above the Scarborough Bluffs remains part of the city's waterfront trail.
"There's an opportunity for the greater community to realize this is there."
The Scarborough Southwest councillor said he would work with residents to address soil erosion and other issues created by the many informal paths through the park.
Residents were told in February that Harrison Estates from Springbank Avenue to Lakehurst Crescent has a mulch trail spreading to twice its width because it can't handle its volume of bicycle and foot traffic.
Egan acknowledged there was no public meeting on the Grey Abbey proposal to connect Grey Abbey Drive and Guildwood Parkway to Copperfield Road. The city will inform residents, though, about alternatives "that may be better in the long run," including one allowing cyclists to reach Morningside Avenue along a rail corridor, he said.
Asked last month why no meeting had been held, Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie, who opposes paving a dirt path through Grey Abbey Park, said he told staff he wanted a public meeting in the park itself, but they wanted the meeting to be indoors.
The committee did examine plans to expand Toronto's network of bikeway trails this week, but heard from Willowdale homeowners who didn't want bike paths through the Finch Avenue Hydro Corridor in their neighbourhood.