Pedestrianize St Joseph Street - gateway to the University of Toronto!

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95 ActionGroup
95 ActionGroup signed this petition

To: Scott Maybury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate, University of Toronto

Dear Professor Maybury,

I ask you to support the suggested pedestrianization of St Joseph Street, as proposed by Effie Slapnicar, Bursar and Chief Administration Officer of the University of St Michael’s College (USMC). I urge you to work to include this project in the University of Toronto (U of T) Secondary Plan. This project is exactly what the University should be considering in order to safeguard its position as a great university within a world-class city.  Pedestrianization of St Joseph Street would support the goals of the U of T Secondary Plan, take steps to improve student safety at a location where significant concerns have previously been expressed, enrich the campus to make it more attractive to potential staff and students, and harmonize it with its surroundings.

A major issue for the University should be the safety of U of T students. Concerns have been raised in particular concerning USMC students crossing St Joseph Street in order to reach the Kelly Library. St Joseph Street is embedded in the campus - and is an important thoroughfare for students, community, pedestrians and cyclists. Currently these are mixed in with vehicular traffic - causing congestion, frustration and an ongoing safety risk. Pedestrianization of St Joseph Street would significantly reduce the possibility of accidents.

Pedestrianization of St Joseph Street would be a great improvement to the campus, that aligns perfectly with the intent of the U of T Secondary Plan. It would enhance and expand the existing open space and public realm network as well as prioritize the movement of pedestrians and cyclists. Part of the rationale for the revised U of T Secondary Plan is to upgrade the campus facilities in order to compete for research students from around the world. Pedestrianization of St Joseph Street would add a strong and sustainable argument to attract academics to U of T. The University should not just focus on bricks and mortar investments on campus - pedestrianization would greatly enhance the downtown campus environment and its brand, positioned at the heart of our fabulous city of Toronto.

The nature of this street and its current uses lend themselves to pedestrianization. There is an ebb and flow of movement associated with the institutions surrounding St Joseph Street. This not a normal residential street and assessing the current traffic patterns is complex. Significant pulses of pedestrian activity take place over the day including, to name just a few, students periodically filing out of lecture halls or attending evening events, the lunchtime flow of schoolgirls from the nearby St Joseph’s College School, the evening rush of office workers walking from the large Government facility on Wellesley Street and congregants of St Basil’s Church attending religious services. All of this is layered on top of vehicle movements such as rush hour traffic, periodic buses bringing students and visitors to events and programs, as well as occasional film crews who value the unique nature of the location. Pedestrianization would prioritize the free and safe flow of foot traffic and cyclists generated by U of T and the surrounding institutions.

Pedestrianization of St Joseph Street would be a gift to the community. It would considerably enhance the value of Clover Hill Park at the east end of St Joseph Street where it intersects with Bay – soon to be opened after an investment of over $2 million dollars. It would provide a coherent, interesting and uninterrupted pedestrian network – one of the key factors identified for the success of pedestrianization projects. It would attach Clover Hill Park to the USMC campus, carry on across Queens Park into the western portion of the campus and finally link to the already pedestrianized Willcocks Street. The considerable benefits of pedestrianizing St Joseph Street would include making the neighbourhood more vibrant, encouraging creativity in public art and open air and cultural events, as well as providing a sense of space and connection for the community.

Global research shows that substantial social, environmental, safety and economic benefits can flow from pedestrianization. Successful examples all around the world - from the “superblocks” of Barcelona to the covered walkways of Dubai - speak to the valuable contribution the pedestrianization of St Joseph Street would bring to U of T and Toronto. I hope you will consider this proposal seriously and work to include this project in the U of T Secondary Plan.

Yours sincerely

A concerned member of the local community