A committee has okayed the project, part of the Nathan Phillips Square revamp, despite “gravy train” complaints from Doug Ford.
Workers near Queen and Bay will no longer have to rub elbows with sweaty cyclists.
The city’s government management committee has given the green light to Toronto’s second bike station with showers, despite concerns voiced by Councillor Doug Ford that it was money down the drain.
The station will be in the Toronto Parking Authority garage, below City Hall. The TPA will give up 24 spaces with a potential annual revenue of $70,000.
“We’re taking away parking space down here at City Hall that is creating $70,000 worth of revenue, and — ready for this, folks? — they’re putting in showers for the bike riders to come down here, to a tune of $1.2 million,” said Ford after the meeting. “That’s the gravy train. That is reckless spending — to put showers here at City Hall at $1.2 million. It’s disgusting.”
The station will include 380 secure bike spaces, free air tools, change rooms but only four showers.
It’s “very small,” said Daniel Egan, Toronto’s cycling infrastructure manager. “We don’t expect everyone to shower there, but it’s one of those things where, on occasion, people need that.”
City council originally approved the $1.2 million station as part of the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization. But the project hit a snag after all city divisions were directed to cut operating costs by 10 per cent to make up for a 2012 budget shortfall.
The transportation division couldn’t make up for the TPA’s $70,000 loss in parking revenue. Cyclists pay a fee to use the bike stations, but only enough to recover costs. “Bike stations don’t generate a profit,” Egan said.
But on Monday, Councillor Mary Fragedakis introduced a motion at the committee meeting to waive the loss of revenue. The motion was passed and will go to council for approval on May 7 or 8.
Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, said he went to the parking garage at various times of the day and took photos to show that many of the spaces were empty. He included the photos in a report to the government management committee on Monday.
“It raises the question how the TPA is making money on 24 spaces that are sitting empty all day,” Kolb said.
The station is “a great thing to add to Nathan Phillips Square,” he said. “It sends a strong message that they’re encouraging the public and city staff to bicycle to work.”
The bike facility at Union Station that is expected to open next year will also have showers.
A city study done in 2009 shows 70 per cent of commuter cyclists don’t have access to shower and change facilities, and many don’t have secure parking facilities, Kolb said.
The $51 million Nathan Phillips Square revitalization is on track and will be finished next year, when the Peace Garden is done. Projects completed so far include the podium green roof in 2010; the skate pavilion and concession building in 2011, and a nine-jet water fountain and theatre stage in 2012.