Close The Gates (Stand Up For The Humber)

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This is a petition to permanently close the seasonal gates that are bringing car traffic into the Humber River corridor.

Why now?

  1. It’s unsafe. It’s impossible to enforce existing bylaws effectively
  2. This is a conservation park intended for recreation and enjoyment, not a freeway
  3. This is an important wetland facing several conservation challenges, it needs our help not new problems

Our forests and wetlands provide clean water/air, climate regulation, habitat for plant and animal life, a natural water cycle and healthy/vibrant community hubs for recreation and enjoyment. We can be the generation that took a stance to protect what we have and keep Toronto traffic out of this important ecosystem. In 2017, there's no denying the health of communities and their natural systems are linked. 

The Humber is an ecological treasure recognized for its significant cultural and recreational contribution to Toronto and the surrounding area. While great efforts are underway by the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (Canada's National River Conservation Program) and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to protect and restore this vibrant ecosystem, there is one clear thing we can do to help now: keep traffic congestion out.

Home Smith Park is the stretch of the river that runs along the west side from Old Mill to Dundas. At present, much of this green space is prioritized around car access with no regard to conservation, pedestrians or cyclists. Quite literally the entire park is a road in some stretches, with a few inches on the shoulder and the river next to it.

Unlike High Park, this stretch is simply too narrow to be shared safely. There is a posted speed limit of 20 but you can routinely observe cars doing 3-4x that limit as they run into morning/evening traffic on Dundas and fly down here for an alternate route south. We have observed increased usage due to rising congestion on Dundas and are concerned because this will only accelerate in the years ahead.

Municipal Licensing and Standards isn’t equipped or trained to enforce speed limits of bylaw 608. Division 22 of the Toronto Police Service has a lot of ground to cover and doesn’t tend to this stretch regularly. This natural oasis that's heavily protected is dominated by car traffic during the busiest months of the year with very little monitoring and enforcement. Most cars that make their way down pass right through and don't actually exit to use the park as once envisioned. Many who do stop remain in their cars with the engine running continuously, in violation of idling bylaws that are difficult to enforce.

The TRCA’s annual report highlights shrinking natural vegetation cover in of the top threats to the Lower Humber watershed. Instead of prioritizing cars over all other users of the park, including deer and other wildlife that pass through here daily, we can do much more to restore the watershed through tree planting and stewardship while improving safety and accessibility for all age groups.

By any measure of public benefit, the east side of the river (where there is no car access) performs better on any given day, across age groups. The benefits of a healthy Humber ecosystem to the GTA are widespread. Isn't good governance  simply about putting the well-being of the many ahead of the preference of a few?

With the number of new developments under construction along Dundas and Bloor over the next 3 years, the community is going to rely on this space more than ever. Families need to a place to enjoy nature safely without having to check over their shoulders for speeding cars.

What should be a corridor devoted to conservation, recreation and community is instead used primarily as a "drive through" experience, encouraging late night alcohol/drug use, sex and prostitution. At nights, you can routinely see cars driving the wrong way to exit on the north side on a 1-way southbound road. The unsupervised nature of this corridor makes it a dangerous place for pedestrians and cyclists and its usage reflects this.

Toronto deserves a world-class river that we can all be proud, please join us in making it a reality.