Rideau Transit Group cites ‘internal issues’ for closed laneway at Toronto Zoo entrance

TORONTO – A quiet laneway on a Toronto street in an upscale neighbourhood near the Toronto Zoo has been closed for eight months. The Drive Around Hub, which organizes events around the city, explains…

Rideau Transit Group cites ‘internal issues’ for closed laneway at Toronto Zoo entrance

TORONTO – A quiet laneway on a Toronto street in an upscale neighbourhood near the Toronto Zoo has been closed for eight months.

The Drive Around Hub, which organizes events around the city, explains on its website that the lane is closed for “enhanced security” but offers no other details.

“The street network that provides access to the Drive Around Hub cannot handle the traffic volume. Tapping power cables is very dangerous and, sometimes, dangerous,” the site states.

And although the site notes the area of 31 York St. was once home to the Toronto Riot, a 28-year-old man killed himself in the area in July 2017. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation denied a request for an interview, saying the closure is an “internal issue of a private contractor,” and could not comment further on the case.

Shawna McLeod, who works for Rideau Transit Group, which leases the street network that runs from 33rd to 50th streets, said her company is responsible for keeping it as safe as possible.

“We don’t own any streets and there are local firms that own the rights of way, but we lease them to provide access to specific roads,” McLeod said.

She added: “As the city has almost 200 kilometres of street network, there is always going to be concerns, but there are strategies and initiatives in place to mitigate risks.”

When a reporter called Rideau Transport Group and asked about the closure, she was told it was “an internal issue.”

The digital sign at the gate reading closed reads: “The Drive Around Hub has rented out a space in York Street to play hosts to an attraction not open on other streets in the neighbourhood. While visitors will not be able to drive over or onto the closed road, cars that want to drive may follow the signage and parking rules which detail the rules of the road, and the daily pick-up and drop-off rules will apply.”

The road work also affects 2nd Street West, which is a one-way street near the Zoo entrance on Exhibition Place Boulevard.

A sign near the entrance of the Zoo says the 2nd Street business zone will close on Oct. 27.

Natalie Milne works across the street from the shuttered laneway. She said the closure has made it tougher for her friend, a couple, to have sex in the driveway of her house.

“She tried to go to the bathroom in the open, even though there are signs all around that say that’s not allowed,” Milne said. “She has to close the gate to go to the bathroom, which now serves as a shortcut.

“It’s not only on my street, and we’re at the Zoo. She had to go to the privacy of her car to have sex. Why is it that that is so weird?”

Roy and Amy Sidgwick live on the same street and know the couple’s struggle. Amy has to use a back alley and walk in the street to go to a bathroom, Roy said.

“That’s why I want to see the access reinstated,” Roy said. “It’s kind of like you’re camping in the back of your house.”

Residents have complained about noise, shadow casts and even leaving dishes outside in the closed laneway, McLeod said.

RCMP said they had been contacted.

Michael O’Neill has a house on the street and said he has seen loud, sultry sounds emanating from the back of the driveway of a house on the corner of 31st and York streets.

“I do know it’s a bohemian-type area and they’re getting bit on the way up there, it’s a little hot” he said.

A similar laneway was closed on 23rd Street West in 2016 for about three months and reopened, McLeod said.

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