Residents say they are fed up that street lights have not been working in parts of the city’s Fort York neighbourhood for years.
Onni Group, a Vancouver-based developer that currently owns and maintains the street lights in the area, promises new lighting will illuminate the dark streets in a few weeks.
But the street lights cannot be turned on soon enough, residents say.
Robyn Crosby, who has lived in the area for more than five years, said the response from the developer is good news but it has been a very long wait.
Crosby said the street lights, in particular, are not working on Iannuzzi Street and Sloping Sky Mews. Those streets are west of Spadina Avenue and north of Lake Shore Boulevard West.
“I feel like it’s our right to be kept safe. If the lights are there for that purpose, they should be on,” Crosby said on Tuesday.
Crosby said the streets are completely dark by 7 p.m. and safety is an issue. Cars are driving by, people are walking and dog owners are exercising their pets in the dark, she said.
“It’s increasingly getting scary and to not have lights doesn’t make me feel safe and particularly as a woman,” Crosby said.
“Community is very important. When you’re walking by somebody and you can’t even see them, and they’re your neighbour, it doesn’t really make you feel like you’re in a safe place, which is your home. We should all feel safe in our homes.”
Crosby said residents have written to Toronto Hydro and property management groups have tried talking to Onni Group. She said nobody has taken responsibility for the problem.
“Really, it’s a bunch of finger pointing with no answers,” Crosby said.
As for the promise that the lights will be on soon, she said: “My response would be Hallelujah. Can you do it a little quicker? Because we’ve been waiting a long time. And thank you.”
Lighting ‘operational’ within weeks, developer promises
Duncan Wlodarczak, chief of staff for Onni Group, said in an email to CBC Toronto that the developer assumed responsibility for some of the lighting surrounding the Fort York neighbourhood earlier this year. There is a construction site in the area, he said.
“Some of this lighting was required to be removed due to the active construction site. With nearby construction wrapping up, new lighting will be placed back on the street and operational within the next few weeks,” Wlodarczak said.
According to Toronto Hydro, the street lights are to be handed over to the city-owned utility, but that transfer has not happened yet.
Russell Baker, spokesperson for Toronto Hydro, said the issue should be resolved once the utility takes over the street lights.
“We are committed to operating and maintaining the street lights in the area as soon as we assume responsibility,” Baker said in an email on Tuesday.
Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, said the issue is a “legal logjam” between Toronto Hydro and Onni Group.
He said the developer of an adjacent condo construction was responsible for delivering the street lights.
Cressy said Toronto Hydro was concerned that the work was not completed to the standards that would have allowed the street lights to be connected to the electrical grid.
“Adequate street lights are a necessity for accessibility and safety, especially in dense urban neighbourhoods with many pedestrians,” Cressy said.
“New street lights are a requirement when new developments are approved, and the developer of the adjacent condo construction was responsible for delivering this work.
“Dark sidewalks in the middle of the community are not acceptable and the legal logjam between the developer and Toronto Hydro is not resolving the problem. Frankly, it just needs to get fixed immediately.”
‘We don’t feel safe,’ resident says
Cressy said he is urging both the developer and Toronto Hydro to work together to have the streetlights quickly and safely turned on. He said he is also working with city staff to ensure development approval conditions, which require new street lights to be installed in working order, are enforced.
Meantime, residents are saying without the lights, safety is a big issue.
Grace Lee said she won’t walk alone outside after the sun sets.
“It’s only 7:00 p.m. right now and it feels really dark so we don’t feel safe,” she said.
“I was about to come out just with my kid, but I didn’t feel safe so I had to bring my husband with me.”