Toronto City Council is in the process of soliciting feedback from Victoria University and the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) about the possibility of converting Charles Street West into a two-way street.
The proposal aims to alleviate additional traffic resulting from new developments in the area, according to Toronto Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
Charles Street West, which currently runs one-way right through the heart of Victoria University, is, in its present state, fundamental to the “cohesiveness” of Victoria’s piece of campus, wrote VUSAC President Zahavah Kay in an email to The Varsity.
“Vic students cross Charles Street regularly, every day, multiple times a day,” said Kay. “You have to cross Charles Street… if you want to eat, and print something and go to class: you’re crossing Charles Street dozens of times a day.”
According to Kay, Charles Street West’s transformation into a two-way street, with increased traffic, would threaten the safety of students who hustle daily from residence to the dining halls to Vic administration offices. She noted that the street “literally divides Vic in half.” There are two residences and a student centre on one side of the street, with two residences and a dining hall on the other side.
Kay also voiced her concerns about parking and accessibility if Charles Street West stopped being one-way, and said that the “pedestrian campus feel” — with more benches and places to study — would be at stake if the proposed change saw the light of day.
Wong-Tam told The Varsity that the city is soliciting advice from the Vic community because they “want to make sure that there’s some predictability, with respect to pedestrian and cycling movement. So one thing that we’re doing is trying to get a sense of what the community wants.” In addition, “Transportation Service staff are prepared to consider [the change], but we need to know whether or not there is broader community support.”
The Bursar of Victoria University, Ray deSouza, wrote in statement to The Varsity that “no decisions have been made. Feedback is currently been solicited from all stakeholders. Wong-Tam has invited us to a meeting to discuss this issue. We are grateful to the councillor for this opportunity.”
Kay plans to accept the councillor’s invitation as well. “It’s not a set in stone plan, it’s very much a discussion right now,” Kay wrote. “We’re going to get to talk with them about what Charles Street means to the Vic community as it is right now, hear a little bit more about their feasibility report and then just go from there.”