The Urban Mobility and Transportation Strategy study provides a compelling vision and direction for new urban centers such as Midtown.
Midtown is a vision for a fifteen-minute community embedded in a traditional car-centric suburb. Oakville, like most smaller cities and suburbs, is car centric by design, with cars being a critical requirement for accessing services. The Urban Mobility Report does recognize and acknowledge this but, in our view, does not adequately address the interface between the two. In the inevitable decades-long transition period the livability of existing Oakville neighborhoods seems bound to be negatively affected.
TCRA has a number of specific concerns. This document explores and highlights a number of these.
It may be decades until full services are available in Midtown (schools, rec centers, doctors, grocery stores etc.) and until then the residents will be car dependent like the rest of us. What is the transition plan, what will be the growing pains?
Downtown Oakville is a regional destination. With the planned population increase at Midtown, every north-south route will see increased volume, including active transportation. How will transportation to Downtown be managed?
The study is strongly biased against car transport; individual vehicle transport is listed as the lowest priority of all the forms of transport. Study recommendations are to make it inconvenient, if not impossible, for cars. This is fine for movement within Midtown it but does not consider requirements when integrating Midtown with existing Oakville.
TCRA recognizes that the world is evolving, with trends towards increased work at home, delivery services, transportation services, car sharing etc. TCRA asks that policy reflect the core requirement to support the use of automobiles for many years to come.
We are in the early stages of major technological change. Within the Midtown planning horizon (decades) there is an expected major shift to electric vehicles (or alternate clean energy like hydrogen). Electricity will be supplied from non-carbon based sources, without affecting the global environment or air quality.
Because of the practical convenience, and the reduced environmental penalty, TCRA expects that personal vehicles will continue to be a transport of choice in the future. Oakville Transportation policy, and planned road capacity, should reflect this.
Development plans have been submitted with 0.5 parking spots per unit. This may be the appropriate number for a fully developed urban community, but it will be inadequate until Midtown is built up. The risk is that Midtown residents will be looking for street parking within our existing neighborhoods or will try to use existing Metrolinx parking facilities.
TCRA ask that an appropriate minimum be set, considering current requirements.
Trafalgar Road is the only main artery for north-south travel, and is already gridlocked in peak periods. Similarly for Speers and Cornwall in the east-west direction.
If tens of thousands of new residents are going to be inserted into this existing built-up area, road capacity needs to be increased. Current proposals are focused on access to and from the QEW. TCRA asks that increased road capacity be considered northwards from Midtown to Dundas Street, and in the east-west direction.
Expected is rapid growth in the use of powered bikes, scooters, and other active transports. Safe bike lanes are required for these transport methods, separate from pedestrian sidewalks and roadways:
Access to Downtown Oakville
Downtown Oakville is now an up-market urban main street with a wide array of shopping, restaurants, cafés and coffee shops. It is unique regionally and still evolving in response to a steady influx of wealthy residents. There will be a Midtown transition period where the population there will be increasing quickly well in advance of any comparable “main street” experience. Downtown will continue to be a major attractor through this transition and beyond and in our view the Transportation Strategy report does not adequately consider how to avoid the congestion and even gridlock that is likely to result.
Winter comes to Oakville. Current plans do not identify mitigations for poor weather.