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Councillor 'dumbfounded' by restrictions on daytime maintenance work downtown

Last Updated Mar 21, 2018 at 11:48 pm EDT

Toronto is implementing restrictions on maintenance work in an effort to improve traffic flow in the downtown core.

Mayor John Tory said non-emergency work won’t be allowed weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in a four-square-kilometre area of downtown bounded by Dundas Street to the north, Lake Shore Boulevard and Harbour Street to the south, Bathurst Street to the west and Jarvis Street to the east.

Work can be done in parking lanes between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

“The days of hydro, telephone or cable trucks blocking lanes of traffic during the day for non-emergency work have come to an end,” said Tory. “It’s not fair to residents or businesses and it’s not something that should be happening in a major city.”

Tory said outside of the designated area and parking lanes, workers can only do maintenance in the “off-peak direction” only as determined by city staff.

He said the policy also applies to all subcontractors working on behalf of utility companies.

However, Coun. Joe Cressy said the new policy means downtown residents will now have to endure noise from overnight work.

“I am dumbfounded by this,” he said on Twitter. “240,000 people live downtown & it is expected to double to nearly 500,000 people in the next 25 years.

“To think that the Mayor can unilaterally announce that those residents will be subjected to overnight construction is totally & completely unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, Spadina-Fort York MP Adam Vaughan called the plan “unfair and wrong.”

“Families downtown deserve to sleep too,” he said on Twitter. “We put up with nightclubs, road closures, late night garbage collection and more already.

“This latest move is unfair and wrong. It ignores the reality and tests the goodwill of downtown neighbourhoods. Reconsider NOW.”

But Tory’s spokesman Don Peat said city staff told downtown councillors, including Cressy, about the policy change last month.

Peat said the overnight noise bylaw remains in place, and staff will still be able to make exemptions to the policy.

“This isn’t about massive road construction or other events but aimed at the planned maintenance/non-emergency work that we’ve all seen in the middle of a road in the middle of the day that could happen quietly during off-peak hours like it does in many other major cities,” he said.

Coun. Lucy Troisi agreed.

“As a Downtown Councillor I was consulted by transportation staff and I believe this is a balanced approach necessary to keep the city moving,” she said on Twitter.

“This is about non-emergency utility work not major road construction.”