Speed limit and parking reductions on docket for two-year, $42M Elgin Street overhaul

If passed, construction would see traffic closed on the street for a full year
Elgin Street

Elgin Street could see a reduction of on-street parking and a speed limit as low as 30 km/h as part of a multi-year, multimillion-dollar renewal plan.

Aging watermains and sewers beneath Elgin Street, some more than 100 years old, have necessitated an overhaul of the street. City officials are using the long-due maintenance as an opportunity to redesign the street as a destination rather than as a thoroughfare, as some purport it to be today.

The total area slated for overhaul begins on the northern end of Elgin at Lisgar Street, spanning south down to Hawthorne Avenue at Main Street. Waverley Street is also included in the renewal.

The proposal, headed to transportation committee on May 3, calls for a reduction of parking and speed limits in the area.

A report submitted by city staff calls for a speed limit as low as 30 km/h along the area, with 90 on-street parking spaces on Elgin Street, a reduction of 26 per cent from current levels. Similar reductions are proposed for Waverley Street and Hawthorne Avenue.

The construction is estimated to cost $42 million and will require Elgin Street to be fully closed to traffic for 12 months, with an additional 10 months until full completion.

Discussions about the Elgin Street renewal began in June of last year and have included multiple public consultations and the formation of a working group made up of stakeholders, businesses and the transit agency. An online questionnaire received more than 1,000 responses.

Feedback from public consultations indicated a desire for improved conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. The plan, which calls for wider sidewalks and flexible space for on-street patios, does not include plans for a cycling lane, though respondents were pleased with the reduced speed limit for shared traffic.

Coun. David Chernushenko, whose Capital Ward reaches the edges of Elgin Street, indicated in the report he was dissatisfied with the degree to which parking reductions were considered for the street. The proposed changes don’t go far enough, he says, despite assertions by local businesses that retaining parking is necessary.

“I am concerned that the proposed 90 spaces, although less than the current parking supply, is a half-measure that will ultimately prove a disservice to the same businesses that are in favour of more parking, as the renewal of Elgin Street will not be as complete as it might have been had fewer such parking spaces on the street itself been included,” he wrote in the report.

A parking study included in the report indicated a high demand for parking on Elgin Street during peak periods and weekends. While the quantity of spots is dropping, the 90 spots retained will be available full-time, whereas many current spaces are conditionally available on peak periods.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney wrote in the report that she’s pleased with the proposed changes, believing they are the right steps towards enhancing Elgin Street as a hub of activity in the city.

“Currently, the focus of Elgin Street is to move people through to get somewhere else. The plan for renewal will help to transform the street into a place for people to stay,” she writes.