More than fifty Bloor West residents attended the BWVRA’s latest public meeting on the state of Bloor West Village. Panelists from the BWV Business Improvement Association (BIA) had some long-awaited news for people frustrated with the condition of the sidewalks. “We’ve been promised new sidewalks by early-2010” said BIA Chair Paula McInerney. The un-even and breaking interlocking brick is to be removed completely, she said. She told the gathering about other improvements as well, including the removal of the scattered newspaper boxes, which will be replaced by larger single dispenser units at the subway stops and at some designated location in between.
Councillor Bill Saundercook (Ward 13) also attended. Both he and the BIA were asked if the City would be dealing with existing tripping hazards in the Village. The answer was yes, but the timing was vague. It was clear that follow up letters and calls from residents would likely be needed to make the sidewalks safe in the meantime.
Ms. McInerney also announced that the BIA had converted recently-installed gas lamps to low energy LED bulbs as an energy saving move. The BIA plan is to install more than 50 more of the standards that would include hanging planters. The news that was greeted with some skepticism. Questioners wanted to know if this was part of an overall re-design plan that would update the Village along with its sidewalks. The answer was no.
Alex Ling, the long-time Director of the BIA, said the design job had been entrusted to the City’s urban design teams who had been asked for a “standard” sidewalk treatment. Applause greeted a person who suggested a comprehensive and forward-looking plan is needed which increased public space and decreased sidewalk congestion, possibly with fewer rather than more poles. She pointed to the recent re-design done for the streetscape of Roncesvales village as a example of a comprehensive design which provided an improved overall look.
Ms. McInerney also noted that two automated public washrooms would be installed in the village area for the convenience of shoppers. They are to be located in parkettes along the shopping avenue.
The BIA reps were asked by BWVRA co-chair Greg Hamara if the BIA would be willing to have its directors meet with representatives of the local resident’s association in a semi-formal fashion to exchange views on Village issues. Mr. Ling was noncommittal, saying his door was open to residents who want to speak with him. Mr. Hamara asked him and Ms. McInerney to consider the proposal in order to generate ideas that would help foster closer relationships between residents and local merchants.