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Tag Archives: liberty streets

Bursting at the Seams

Liberty Village bracing for 8,000 new residents

Emily Burke – Open File

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s rush hour in Liberty Village, and as always, cars and buses are lined up in a miserably long bottleneck of traffic trying to turn left on Strachan from East Liberty Street. There are far too many sardines trying to make their way out of the small can that is this neighbourhood. Factor in the new condos and townhouses that are currently under development, and in the next few years there will be an extra 8,000 people living in the area, estimates City Planner Jeff Markowiak. That’s a lot of sardines.

Surrounded by bridges, highways and rail tracks, the city has to get creative in dealing with that influx. In the last ten years it’s gone from a tucked-away, crumbling industrial pocket to a hub for new media and other startup businesses, dotted with retail and restaurants along the main drag of Liberty and East Liberty Streets. Most of the other roads are lined, or soon will be, with condos and townhouses. It stretches from Dufferin Street to Strachan Avenue, south of King Street with a few winding roads of new development above King that are grouped in with the neighbourhood.

[pullquote]There are few through-streets and limited access for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit. Anyone trying to get up to the King streetcar or bike to downtown or walk up to Queen West has train tracks between them and their destination.[/pullquote]

The city has a couple projects in development to open up the space. The more ambitious and farther-off of them is the construction of an entirely new street, temporarily called Liberty New Street, along the south end of the neighbourhood. Running between Dufferin and Strachan, it would alleviate congestion and add to the neighbourhood vibe. If it happens, that is.

The City has been talking about the new street since the 1990’s. “We have been asking for it forever,” says Lynn Clay, Executive Director of the Liberty Village Business Improvement Area. “We’d like to see street-level retail, patios, bike lanes, you could sit and watch the fireworks over the lake.”

But the clock is ticking. “Every year we wait for the new road to get built, the price goes up,” says Clay. “Every year we wait to build this new road, property owners get frustrated and decide they’re going to do something else with their land.” There’s a window for making the most of the space and it won’t stay open forever.

“Getting money and capital out of the city right now is extremely difficult,” says Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina). With little hope of getting help from City Hall’s pocket, those living in the area and benefitting directly from the revitalization may have to foot some of the bill. “In the age we’re at in the city we may have to find some local investment.” Once local fundraising gets underway, Layton says: “We won’t leave any stone unturned. Raising money locally is much quicker than waiting on the city.”

The second neighbourhood improvement project is a little closer to realization. Already through the environmental assessment stage, there are plans to build a pedestrian and cyclist walkway over the rail tracks between Strachan and Atlantic Avenue to open up a new crossing point.

“If people have to take longer walks to get to where they’re going, it’s more likely they’ll drive instead,” says Stephen Schijns, a manager of infrastructure planning for the city. This is where the pedestrian walkway would come in handy. “This way we’re encouraging more walking, cycling and better quality of life in the area,” says Schijns.

Building the walkway is also a matter of safety because it would stop people from walking over the tracks. “There’s always been a strong north-south flow between King Street and Liberty Street and people have been going over the rails which is really unsafe,” says Clay.

The walkway has been in the works since it was first proposed in 2006 and the projected cost is anywhere between four and six million dollars, says Schijns. As for New Liberty Street, Schijns says it’s too soon in the process to predict the cost. But obstacles continue to pop up. In the latest news from the city, there’s a possibility that the street would run short of Strachan, not quite connecting the outer perimeter.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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