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khris

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Jarvis St. must change with evolving environs
Jan 16, 2009 04:30 AM
Christopher Hume


As Toronto goes, so goes Jarvis St.

In its heyday during the late 1800s, Jarvis was the place to live; Masseys, Mulocks and Cawthras could be seen there, as could Ontario Premier Oliver Mowat. The mansions were among the grandest in the city and the parks exquisite.

But then came the car and after that suburbia. Jarvis was abandoned and by the 1960s had been turned into a dreary north/south artery that was the quick way out of the downtown. The street had fallen into a downward spiral from which it has yet to emerge fully.

In recent years, however, Councillor Kyle Rae has led the charge to reclaim Jarvis. Specifically, he wants the reversible middle lane removed and space given to cyclists, pedestrians, trees and art.

But civic wheels grind glacially in Toronto, and only now are we reaching the end of an interminable EA (environmental assessment) process called for whenever such an alteration is proposed. Next Thursday, the last public meeting on the improvement program will be held at the National Ballet School's Currie Hall. As Rae makes clear, he doesn't expect it will be smooth sailing.

"It's gonna get ugly," he predicts. "My constituents north of Bloor hate the idea of losing their freeway. They don't recognize the residential urbanization that has happened around Jarvis south of Bloor in the last few decades."

"We want to make Jarvis beautiful, consistent and accessible," explains project manager and senior city engineer Penelope Palmer. "There is going to be some delay for drivers, but we feel we can make it work."

As Rae argues, Jarvis has become disconnected from the neighbourhoods that surround it. The fifth lane, which runs south in the morning, north evenings, makes the street problematic for the two-legged and two-wheeled. He also points out that Jarvis is a designated Cultural Corridor – think of the National Ballet School, the historic houses and waterfront connection.

"For me," Rae adds, "it's about revitalizing the city and making Jarvis part of the neighbourhood. It's been this way since people started to abandon the city for the suburbs. But there's been a huge cultural shift since then."

And according to Palmer, that same change can also be felt at City Hall. "We're in the midst of a big mental shift," she says. "There's a new culture; now we're moving people, not cars."

This kind of talk will put the fear of God into many Torontonians, especially the good burghers of Rosedale, North Toronto and Moore Park. Used to getting their own way, they must now learn how to share the city. This isn't easy for any neighbourhood in any city.

But as the postwar policies of multiplication by subdivision self-destruct, there's nowhere to run but back downtown. Which is what has fuelled the global condo boom of recent decades. Keep in mind, too, that current proposals for Jarvis include a hotel, an apartment building and three 40-storey condo towers at Shuter St.

If the EA gets through the city's public works and infrastructure committee, it will go to council in May. Rae says he expects members will do the "right thing."

They would be crazy not to; the signs all point to a high-density urban future increasingly serviced by public transit. Inevitably, Jarvis will simply become too valuable to remain a highway. Its worth as the main street of an evolving neighbourhood and cultural venue will be too great to leave unexploited.

Call it revitalization or gentrification, on Jarvis St. the road ahead is clear.

Source
 
It really is a great street to have a stroll down, especially north of Carlton.
 
It definitely has a lot of potential to be pretty grand. I already like it too.
 
How does the split-shift centre lane negatively impact cyclists? Shouldn't they be on the outside lanes (which never shift direction)?

Keep cars on Jarvis, and use the more appropriately scaled Church St. as your pedestrian/transit corridor (it even already has streetcar tracks for part of the way) and a super vibrant pedestrian scene that doesn't need to be manufactured or wished into existence.

What strikes me about these ideas is that the City favours starting from scratch, rather than working with pre-existing conditions. You end up with proposals like turning Lake Shore into a Grand Boulevard, that ignore that Queen's Quay is already nearly that Grand Boulevard. Or turning Jarvis into the pedestrian thoroughfare that Church already is.

Don't get me wrong, Jarvis needs some money for street beautification - but the city should be weary of obstructing the only viable North/South route in that part of the city.
 
How does the split-shift centre lane negatively impact cyclists? Shouldn't they be on the outside lanes (which never shift direction)?

3 lanes of traffic in one direction does not bode well for cyclists. Why? One answer, speed. The cars are moving much too quickly for the downtown core on Jarvis.

The main problem with Jarvis is its use as a through-fare. That traffic could easily be shifted to Bayview or the DVP. The volume of cars going through this stretch is not massive, and reduction on this route would by no means cause significant traffic congestion on nearby routes.

The main issue with Jarvis, as the article stated, is that it cuts apart the neighbourhoods. Pedestrians and cyclists avoid the high speed traffic.
 
3 lanes of traffic in one direction does not bode well for cyclists. Why? One answer, speed. The cars are moving much too quickly for the downtown core on Jarvis.

That's a separate issue, you can reduce the speed on Jarvis without also reducing the number of lanes. Reducing the speed alone will also reduce capacity, but by a lesser amount than reducing lanes & speed.

The main problem with Jarvis is its use as a through-fare. That traffic could easily be shifted to Bayview or the DVP. The volume of cars going through this stretch is not massive, and reduction on this route would by no means cause significant traffic congestion on nearby routes.

Jarvis is designed as a trough-fare, which is why it's used that way. It runs from the waterfront all the way into Mount Pleasant where the through-fare continues north. The idea of shifting traffic from Jarvis to Bayview or the DVP would be like suggesting people shift from the Queen streetcar to the Bloor Subway. They're not close to each other, and they don't serve the same purposes. The detour you're suggesting would extend people's distance-travelled by like six-times. It only benefits theoretical citizens instead of real ones.

Jarvis takes the bulk of traffic in that area. While it isn't the amount of traffic that the DVP has, it's not an insignificant amount either. Church certainly can't take more cars during rush hour than it currently does.

The main issue with Jarvis, as the article stated, is that it cuts apart the neighbourhoods. Pedestrians and cyclists avoid the high speed traffic.

What neighbourhoods is it cutting apart? Jarvis marks the boundary between neighbs; the Village on the West, St. Jamestown on the East. I'd say pedestrians are currently avoiding the area because there's nothing really there. There are few restaurants, few shops, and few parks beyond Allen Gardens. The only thing that's not in short supply are nostalgic memories.

The pedestrians are on Church right now - but no one's trying to reduce cars there to reinforce Church as a pedestrian/cycle/transit route. Seems like the missed opportunity.
 
I'm a reasonably seasoned cyclist (I ride for practical and pleasure purposes) and I live at Jarvis Street yet I won't go near it on my bike. Generally, motorists on the section south of Charles Street down to the lake are aggressive, the speed is exceeded and lane changes are fast & frequent. If I need to go north/south I'll use any other street except Yonge so its not a big deal choosing an alternative route, but I can attest first-hand to the inherent dangers of cycling on Jarvis Street.
I'm all for streetscape improvements which add more trees, improved walkable spaces and safer routes for cycling. I could care less that commuters through this area may experience a 2 or 3 minute longer travel time when weighed against potential improvements.
I think a fair balance could be found here
 
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Does the article really need to be so loaded with class warfare? I'm pretty sure everyone could agree that Jarvis has seen better days and deserves some improvements. There isn't really a need to blame it on Rosedale et al.
 
I'd say pedestrians are currently avoiding the area because there's nothing really there. There are few restaurants, few shops, and few parks beyond Allen Gardens. The only thing that's not in short supply are nostalgic memories.
Relocating 50% of the homeless shelters to other parts of the city would make a good start to welcoming pedestrian traffic back to Jarvis. The downtown core has far more shelters than anywhere else in the city.
 
Relocating 50% of the homeless shelters to other parts of the city would make a good start to welcoming pedestrian traffic back to Jarvis. The downtown core has far more shelters than anywhere else in the city.

I think that probably has something to do with the downtown core having the majority of homeless people?

Jarvis also marks the boundary between the 'core' and some still-sketchy housing developments (probably another reason for all the homeless/poverty support).

I don't agree with relocating homeless shelters so that areas of downtown are more palatable to people. Downtown takes all kinds.
 
One issue with Jarvis, though, is that it was never a commercial/retail street per se--rather, it's a former residential street (a grande allee at its best) that's been deformed through time. A lot of its "problems" are, indeed, shared with the never-widened Sherbourne; whereas the retail bases of Church and Parliament have enabled them (or portions thereof) to glide through better...
 
I totally support this initiative, for a whole bunch of reasons. Jarvis is a pain to cross (less so to cycle on, but still dangerous feeling). The signs for the middle lane are ugly and lend an expressway type feeling to the street. And to make it worse, the middle lane disappears towards the south anyways, so when you are driving south all the time that is gained by driving like hell through a dense downtown area is lost as the cars merge into a smaller street anyways. The current street is just bad planning - they've been talking about this for a long time, better to just make it happen.
 
I totally support this initiative, for a whole bunch of reasons. Jarvis is a pain to cross (less so to cycle on, but still dangerous feeling). The signs for the middle lane are ugly and lend an expressway type feeling to the street. And to make it worse, the middle lane disappears towards the south anyways, so when you are driving south all the time that is gained by driving like hell through a dense downtown area is lost as the cars merge into a smaller street anyways. The current street is just bad planning - they've been talking about this for a long time, better to just make it happen.

But Jarvis isn't meant as a cross-town route, in concert with Mount Pleasant, it's meant as a traffic route for people coming north of the core (or from the core to the North). If you're coming from the North and intending to go through the city to the Gardiner, you're better off heading east to the DVP.

The street should be beautified, absolutely, but returning it to the residential street that it hasn't been for nearly a century seems kinda silly. It's not as if there's a surplus of highish-capacity roads running North/South in the area.
 

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