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Coun. Minnan-Wong takes heat for tweet celebrating the 'killing' of bike lane

Last Updated Jul 18, 2019 at 4:22 pm EDT

A cyclist uses the Jarvis Street bike lane before it was removed in 2012. CityNews

Councillor and deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong is facing a barrage of online backlash, including harsh rebukes from some fellow councillors, after he took to Twitter to celebrate the defeat of a motion to revisit bringing back the Jarvis Street bike lanes.

The motion, brought forward by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, lost by a vote of 10-16 on Wednesday.

Mayor John Tory was among those who voted against it.

In the end, council voted in favour of expanding the city’s cycling network, with 120 kilometres of new bike lanes to be built over the next three years, but they won’t be coming back to Jarvis Street.

The contentious bike lanes were installed along Jarvis Street in the summer of 2010, but two years later council voted to have them removed.

In a tweet, Minnan-Wong celebrated the defeat of Wong-Tam’s motion.

“Killed the Jarvis Street bike lanes, again!” he wrote.

His apparent glee touched a nerve with many, who pointed out the disturbing rash of pedestrian and cyclist deaths that the city is trying to stem with its revamped Vision Zero 2.0 campaign.

Wong-Tam fired back, providing statistics that showed an increase in vehicle collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists since the lanes were removed, adding “No one should boast about putting people in danger.”

 

Coun. Josh Matlow called Minnan-Wong’s tweet “shameful and disrespectful” to which Minnan-Wong responded: “How bout this Josh. Council keeps another important arterial road flowing while allowing cyclists to use Sherbournes (sic) safe bike lanes.”

Matlow and Minnan-Wong clashed in council on Wednesday while debating the city’s cycling network plan. Matlow was booted out of council chambers after he refused to apologize for telling Minnan-Wong to “do your job.”

“He’s inferring that I’m not doing my job and I ask for an apology,” Minnan-Wong responded.

But Matlow wouldn’t budge, agreeing to retract the comment but refusing to apologize saying to do so “would be dishonest.”

“I actually don’t believe that he’s doing his job as a representative that should focus on safety,” Matlow maintained before walking out of the room.

While Minnan-Wong’s tweet found some support, the majority seemed to feel it was insensitive in light of the lives lost on Toronto’s streets.

Here’s some of the reaction: