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Sidewalks For All Press Conference and Sidewalk Pedestrian Course at City Hall

A coalition of active transportation and accessibility advocates are calling on City Council to vote in favor of Staff recommendations for wide, clear, and essentially straight sidewalks. The City of Toronto Licensing and Standards and Public Works and Infrastructure Committees are meeting on December 4, 2017 to vote on proposed changes to Patio and Marketing Bylaws that would require implementation of Pedestrian Clearways, city-wide by 2025.  This vote will have a substantial impact on the walkability of Toronto's city sidewalks, with the biggest impact for people who face accessibility challenges. 

Increasing the walkability and accessibility of Toronto's streets and sidewalks is a City priority. As Chair of Toronto's Accessibility Advisory Committee, Councillor Wong-Tam has led the charge as the political champion of Sidewalks For All, an independent coalition of accessibility and active transportation advocates working to create a more walkable Toronto.

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"I care passionately about walkable, safe and comfortable sidewalks because I use them on a daily basis," said Yin Brown, Co-Chair of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee and President of Alliance for Blind Canadians, Toronto Chapter. "But I smash into patio fences, trip over café chairs, get stuck in bicycle racks, walk into trees and even knock down seniors in my walkabouts. Many blind people such as myself have self-imposed our own isolation, because our sidewalks are cluttered and unfriendly to pedestrians."

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Through broad public consultation, City Staff are proposing to harmonize and update the Patio and Marketing Bylaws that would standardize the minimum pedestrian clearway to 2.1 metres, city-wide. People with mobility devices, wheelchairs, and walking with caregivers, guide dogs, shopping bags or children in large strollers deserve the right to move safely on our city sidewalks.  Creating a 2.1m minimum standards is aimed at ensuring that there is space on our sidewalks in our growing city.  

"The human impact of this decision is immense. With an aging population and a city growing at an exponential rate, sidewalk accessibility is paramount," said Adina Lebo of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. "Seniors should not feel scared while walking on a City sidewalk."

"Today we come to promote vibrant neighbourhoods and healthy communities where people of all abilities and ages can walk about comfortably, safely, and easily," said Gord Brown of the Harbord Village Residents' Association. "This is an exciting opportunity and we encourage Councillors to please show the same boldness and vision they have shown recently with the Bloor Street Bike Lanes, and other progressive initiatives that are moving Toronto closer to its vision of safe mobility for all."

"Wide, safe, comfortable sidewalks benefit all of us," said Adam Cohoon from Walk Toronto. "We are calling on City Council's support. Pedestrians of all ages and abilities deserve the right to move safely on our city sidewalks." 

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"The Sidewalk Café and Marketing By-Laws have not been updated in years.  This comprehensive review has developed recommendations that reflect the current and future vibrancy of our streets and the growing café and restaurant culture.  As our city grows, sidewalk space becomes even more important as a means of transportation and is essential in ensuring a healthy, livable city.  These recommendations strike the right balance for both business and an inclusive, accessible city."

"The Sidewalk Café and Marketing By-Laws have not been updated in years.  This comprehensive review has developed recommendations that reflect the current and future vibrancy of our streets and the growing café and restaurant culture," said City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. "As our city grows, sidewalk space becomes even more important as a means of transportation and is essential in ensuring a healthy, livable city.  These recommendations strike the right balance for both business and an inclusive, accessible city."

For more information: www.sidewalksforall.ca  #SidewalksForAll