Bloor East could use a BIA, but its n’hood assn. helps out

Dennis Hanagan — 

With sidewalk improvements coming to Bloor St. E. next year local residents hope something will be done to improve the storm sewer drainage at the same time.

“Storm sewer drainage along Bloor St. is a major issue,” Linda Brett, president of the Bloor East Neighbourhood Association (BENA), told The Bulletin.

“Some of (the drains) are not in great spots right now. The drains were put in there when the sidewalk was configured differently, so they’ve not been put in a place that drains properly for the sidewalks.”

Brett says buried streetcar tracks on Bloor contribute to drainage problems. “The surface does not lend itself well to drainage from the surface atop of the streetcar tracks.”

The city plans to resurface Bloor E. in 2017 and sees it as an opportunity to make streetscape improvements between St. Paul’s Square and Parliament St. A public meeting outlining the improvements was held Jan. 11 at the 519 Church Street Community Centre.

One improvement calls for a greater tree canopy. Some of the species up for consideration include Common Hackberry, Bur Oak, Black Locust and Valley Forge Elm. They’re known for their drought resistance and salt tolerance.

Along with bump-outs—where the sidewalk juts into the road—are inlets that would contain trees and perennials to capture and reduce stormwater runoff by letting it infiltrate the soil. A bump-out would take up two parking spaces.

Resurfacing the road could also provide opportunities for on-street cycling routes by changing the width and number of vehicle lanes.

As for the suggested improvements, Brett is glad with what she’s seen so far. “It’s going in a good direction. (However) there’s a lot of minute detail we’ll be examining as time goes on. I walk that strip probably three or four times a day. It’s a huge pedestrian walkway.”

Brett said she’s working with Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam on other streetscape projects “and this one’s moving along way, way faster than those are.”

Wong-Tam said the BENA “have been tremendous leaders in making sure this project gets off the ground.” She said the streetscape improvements are not something the neighbourhood has to wait years for. “This is coming in short order,” she said.

“The primary objective of why we’re doing this is to ensure the pedestrian experience is going to be dramatically improved. This is a neighbourhood that doesn’t have a BIA but you have a very strong residents association that has been advocating for change.”

The improvements would be funded by Section 37 funds that developers pay into for community improvements.