Complete Streets Forum – Onwards!

The Complete Streets Forum last week was a great success. Thursday Apr 22nd began bright and early with a mobile workshop on St. George led by John van Nostrand, founding principal of regionalArchitects and Eric Pederson, Urban Design Program Manager, City Planning Division, City of Toronto. John and Eric gave the group a behind-the-scenes look at the design process including the “psychological calming” features employed and Fiona Chapman, Manager of Pedestrian Projects in the City of Toronto’s Public Realm Office provided information about the pilot pedestrian street project proposed for Wilcox St.

On Apr 22nd in the evening, the crowd was packed in at the beautiful Music Room in Hart House where we heard from Kaj Mook, Director, NS OV-fiets, Dutch Railways about their unique bikeshare system that targets commuters at rail stations and entertained us with new Dutch inventions for bike storage. Next up, Sean Wheldrake, Project Lead, Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Unit, Transportation Services, City of Toronto provided an update about Toronto’s upcoming public bike system in 2011. The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee approved the proposal on April 20th and the final step will be for it to receive approval at City Council on May 11-12. Go Toronto BIXI!

On Friday Apr 23rd, 209 delegates attended an all-day forum at the Fairmont Royal York. The majority of the delegates were from the public sector (49%), with about an even split between the private sector (19%) and the non-profit sector (20%) and the remaining 12% from other sectors (eg academia, press, etc.) The breakdown by geographic region was as follows: 57% from Toronto, elsewhere in the Greater Toronto Hamilton area – 18%, elsewhere in Ontario – 19% and 6% from outside of Ontario.

The delegates heard from 26 excellent speakers who all provided their insights about completing the streets from just about every imaginable angle – policy, urban design, planning, engineering, public realm, politics, tourism, the surburban context, public health, and transit.

We heard about how complete streets policies have caught on like wildfire across the U.S., how Ontario’s growth plan is creating complete and sustainable communities, the importance of active transportation in regional planning, case studies from NYC where their streets are being transformed at a remarkable pace and from Charlotte, North Carolina, which has adopted one of the best complete streets policies and implemented award-winning urban street design guidelines, and much more. The break-out sessions were lively and informative and the open floor wrap-up session tackled challenges and discussed strategies for negotiating our shared public spaces.

The speaker presentations are being uploaded to the TCAT website. These will be updated as we receive permission to post them, but there are already a handful available here. We have also posted links to media reports and photos from the day, available here.

In the coming months we will be developing a summary report which we will publish on-line and in print. We will announce it on TCAT News as soon as it is completed.

Thanks to all of our sponsors who made the day possible, to our speakers for providing engaging presentations and ideas, and our attendees for participating.

TCAT’s Complete Streets Forum resulted in some great momentum and excitement for a Complete Streets policy in Toronto. Please stay tuned as we continue to work closely on this issue.

Posted On: April 29, 2010