TORONTO-There has to be a better way. That’s what Doug Ford thinks when it comes to closing downtown roads for an increasing amount of charity runs.
The issue has become more prevalent with construction in preparation for the Pan Am Games restricting or shutting down several heavily travelled routes. Ford thinks moving the events to less congested areas or even off-road could be the way to alleviate some of the gridlock.
“Instead of closing down the roads, we should look at the waterfront,” said Ford in an interview with the Toronto Sun. “It’s part of life in the city but we should get them off the roads.”
According to Transportation Services, Toronto hosts nearly 500 events throughout the year, most of which entail a full or partial closure of city roads. While it’s sometimes a headache for commuters, many of them, like Taste of The Danforth, are specific to neighbourhoods and could not be moved to a different location. They add that the size of the event also has influence on where it is held.
“It would very much depend on what the event is and how large it is,” said Jacqueline Whit, director of Transportation Services. “The marathon (for example) would not fit on the waterfront, (because) it’s 42 kilometres long.”
Whit added that when construction is complete there are certain things that could be moved, but since there is something happening essentially every weekend, it may not be logistically possible to have them all in one place.
Still, Councillor Ford says it is something that should at least be discussed.
Murtaza Haider, an associate professor of management at Ryerson University, said while the events causes some delays, the city gives extended notice allowing for alternative arrangements. He adds that all things considered, the events are beneficial for the city.
“All of these road closures have some negatives but at the same time, the events the city is able to host carries significant value in terms of an economic boost ,” said Haider. “The larger picture of this additional consumption in the city… ends up bringing a net profit.”