The City of Toronto is pursuing a strategy that deliberately drives its suburban residents onto transit - and only transit - by shutting down their commuter parking lots.
Under questioning from council members Wednesday, city staff members said that they believe that closing down subway parking lots will encourage people to leave their cars in their driveways and allow for an increase in development around transit hubs
Several councillors, particularly those who represent outer Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke, raised concerns that their residents would have to walk great distances, wait for a bus, and then take possibly a 30-minute ride to the nearest subway stop.
Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Justin Di Ciano said the city is selling its commuter lot assets without a realistic plan in place.
"Without commuter parking, these people have no choice but just to remain on the road and come down to an even more congested city," Di Ciano said.
The issue of commuter parking was raised by councillors as the city discussed its plan to partially shut down the Wilson station parking lot.
Councillors were assured by staff that there will still be adequate parking for commuters in the GTA.
Don Valley East Councillor Shelley Carroll said the proposal makes sense with the expected growth in population in Toronto to add millions of people over the next couple of decades.
"(Wilson Subway Station) will be mid-town by then. And up where the line ends in Vaughan, that will be the suburbs," she said.
York Centre Councillor James Pasternak said there are still plenty of people in North York who use the Wilson commuter lot - seniors and the disabled, with mobility issues, and young families who live in suburban communities that have not changed despite an increase in transit.
"The buses are not going down to front doors and houses in those various neighbourhoods," he said. "It's important to realize that before us is a strategy to close hundreds of parking spots along Wilson Ave. and Sheppard (Ave.), and go on the misguided logic that people are going to drive up to the new parking spots at Hwy. 407, Steeles and Finch West Station.
"It's basically a parking space shell game," he said.