A decade ago, a debate over rebuilding Yonge would have been conscripted by right-wing councillors into a fight against the alleged “war on the car.” The mere suggestion that cars should lose space to transit or cyclists or walkers was enough to unleash caterwauling. But things have changed. The first pandemic wave a year ago presented cities around the world with an urgent need to rethink what their streets could be. The resounding conclusion was to make more room for people.
Last week at Toronto City Council, before the vote on a proposal to halve traffic on Yonge to two lanes from four, a few voiced the old war-on-car worries, but with none of the pound-the-table angst of years past. One councillor quipped that he was “listening to the gasping death rattle of autosaurus.” The final decision was a landslide: 21-5 in favour.