Bloor West Villager
Not only were residents caught off guard by the sudden closure of the Jameson Avenue pedestrian bridge recently, but Ward 14 (Parkdale-High Park) Councillor Gord Perk, who pointed out that Parkdale is uniquely cut off from the lake, seemed to be the last to know.
Transportation staff rightfully went ahead with the necessary rehabilitation of the bridge, which is in need of repair, but they proceeded without giving any proper notice, or providing any nearby alternatives to allow residents access to Lake Ontario and the area's beaches during the hot summer months.
How could city hall move ahead with a plan to close such a regularly travelled, crucial link like the Jameson bridge without consulting Parkdale residents, or perhaps most importantly, without providing the community and those visiting the city during the summer a way to access the lake?
This lack of forethought is a bit surprising from a council - and a mayor - who express a desire to keep the doors of city hall always open to the public.
There are several reasons why this lack of public consultation is lacking in vision:
1) Parkdale is a densely populated area and as local resident Roger Brook summed up at last week's works and infrastructure committee meeting, thousands of residents live a mere block or so from the lake and the neighbourhood already lacks large parks;
2) How will the increasing number of tourists to the neighbourhood get to Lake Ontario; in particular during Caribana and the Canadian National Exhibition? Their inability to access the lake may reduce our tourist count this year at a time when tourist dollars are already down in Toronto;
3) In comparison to the east beaches which has 17 access points to the lake, Parkdale has three. Removing one, the centre one at that, makes the trek that much more arduous;
4) Why could these repairs not commence during the fall or winter so as not to infringe on residents and tourists?
The controversy over the bridge closure has at the very least created new rules for dealing with issues affecting a councillor's ward. The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee approved a protocol that would see councillor's offices notified by paper and by e-mail about any major construction projects taking place in their ward, six months prior to the start of the projects.
This, like many things coming from city hall, comes several months too late for residents. But at least it's a move in the right direction.