Expropriations put off

City committee move defers ring road plan

The city’s decision to put the brakes on purchasing a number of properties along the North York City Centre Service Road means that project’s original vision is in jeopardy.

The seven properties at 49 Sheppard Ave. East and 14 to 24 Bonnington Pl. are needed to make way for a section of the service road.

The unfinished ring road runs around Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard avenues and was designed to reduce traffic congestion in the area by diverting traffic from Yonge Street.

On the east side of Bonnington Place, two lanes of service road are already built, but an environmental assessment completed 20 years ago said that section of road on the southeast quadrant would have to be eventually widened to accommodate an increase in population.

The city hoped to expropriate the properties and demolish them to make the road larger.

But Ward 2 Councillor Doug Ford recently indefinitely deferred the portion of the project, one of the last to be completed, at the Government Management Committee.

Ford could not be reached for comment. His executive assistant, Amin Massoudi, said the councillor felt the road widening was too expensive and unnecessary.

“At the time, it wasn’t enough to justify the city spending all this money in expropriating these houses,” Massoudi said. “They didn’t exactly tell us why those properties have to be expropriated.”

The cost of the properties is confidential. The city’s manager of acquisitions and expropriations Tim Park said the deferral leaves an unclear future for that section of the service road.

“For lack of a better term, it’s in limbo,” said Park.

He said he’s powerless to do anything unless the committee decides to re-open the item.

Manager of Transportation Services and Traffic Planning for North York district, Pascoal D’Souza, said he would prefer to acquire the properties rather than draft a new environmental assessment.

“The properties are important because they were shown as required,” he said. “We would like to continue to pursue these properties.”

The ward’s councillor John Filion said he doesn’t think that part of the ring road project should be considered a priority.

“In my opinion, those particular properties are not very necessary,” Filion said. “I don’t think we need to widen that section of road, so it doesn’t bother me.”

He said there are higher priority portions of the service road that need to get built. Filion was not opposed to deferring the expropriation, but would have liked to see it go further.

“I suggested that it was not needed,” he said. “I wasn’t in favour of deferring it, I was in favour of rejecting it.”

D’Souza said a reconfiguration of the project could take place, which would likely require a new environmental assessment.

An interim approach could be utilized in the meantime, which would see an offset signalized intersection installed at Bonnington Place and Sheppard Avenue East to allow traffic to get in and out of the area south of Sheppard Avenue.

“Basically we have to wait and see,” D’Souza said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen now because it’s been deferred.”

About this article:

By: Omar Mosleh
Posted: Aug 17 2011 12:55 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto