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Tory seeks to ease traffic pain during city events, highway maintenance

Mayor John Tory says he has made progress in his plan to ease the pain of motorists faced with road closures for weekend events and annual highway maintenance.

Tory announced that city staff have “successfully negotiated” in moving some events to help ease traffic congestion.

Tory didn’t elaborate on which events were being moved but said they are not the “highest of profile events,” such as certain walks.

He said city staff identified four or five events, and organizers agreed to move them, which the mayor said he appreciates.

“I commend them, without naming them, I commend them for the fact that they’ve been public-spirited enough because I am sure it is a bit of an inconvenience for them to agree to move from one weekend to the next,” Tory said at at a noon-hour news conference at city hall on Friday.

Back in mid-December, Tory said the city would have to get tough with event organizers and construction companies, but that changes likely won’t be seen until 2016, since many events are already planned and scheduled for next summer.

He also discussed the province’s Pan Am traffic plan, which the city has to approve.

He said he wants the province to shorten the two-week lane closures scheduled before the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games in July, and also to “relax the definition of an HOV lane.”

“Both of which I don’t think will interfere with the Pan Am Games, but I think will allow the city to move better during that period of time,” Tory said at city hall.

This was Tory’s second Road Closures Co-ordination Committee meeting as chair, part of his six-point plan to fight congestion, adding that the “second meeting was better than the first.

Tory also said staff have scheduled the annual maintenance on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway “in a way that is considerate of all of these events and of the Pan Am Games.”

The mayor also asked staff to see if the maintenance can be done in “less than a weekend” and to develop a work plan that is more efficient and considerate, but at no additional cost.

He also asked staff at the meeting for a list beforehand of scheduled road maintenance.

“I am not in the business of making traffic worse, I am in the business of making traffic better,” Tory said.

With files from Momin Qureshi