York Urbanist


October 27th, 2011

Where? From north to south boundary of York Region

What? As necessary as this transportation artery is to move goods, this road out of Toronto to cottage country is a blemish and a barrier of pavements and grade cuts, only occasionally interrupted by a crossing – the definition of a limited access highway.  The barrier creates:

Woodbridge 1951

Pedestrian impassability

  • Dangers for cycling
  • Separation of wildlife
  • Civic discontinuity
  • Intensification of wind and solar radiation exposure
  • Pollution

Why? It is understood that cities need transportation systems and limited access highways assist in free movement to and from urban areas.  This is the reason that, in Toronto, they built the now abhorred Gardiner Expressway.  Highway 400 serves the Region while providing also a means by which travelers can bypass the Region of York altogether.

How is this an urban place to detest?

HIGHWAY 400 from the labouring incline from the Holland Marsh, to the mind-crippling interchange with Highway 407, this freeway, sometimes called a parking lot, severs the City of Vaughan and Township of King. Only the occasional crossing will ever allow a cyclist, let alone a pedestrian cross this abyss of asphalt. This city connector preceded the twinkling of a city (Vaughan) that emerged north of Toronto. But its existence precludes a distinct city.  Like the Vatican in Rome, it is a state of its own, with the curmudgeonly legal jurisdiction from the province.  And there is rampant civil disobedience by its ‘citizens’ – noise, speeding, and flagrant violation of the rules that bind it. In a quote from Wikipedia “The 400/407 junction is the only four-level stack interchange in Ontario.”  And this is something for York Region to be proud?

What Could be the Future?

ARC, the International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition in 2010 selected a winning submission for a wildlife crossing for Alberta. Imagine a similar consideration for York Region, translating a crossing into a park.


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