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In Toronto, the public has been galvanized by a public complaint at a Toronto Transit Commission meeting about the number of baby strollers being allowed on buses.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Staff at the TTC are recommending against restrictions on stroller use after one person's complaints about mothers and their progeny clogging up transit vehicles.

The complaint sparked an immediate skirmish – inevitably dubbed the stroller war – and left the TTC weighing how to balance competing demands for space.

After the woman raised her concern, at the last commission meeting, the transit service agreed to study the issue. In a report released Friday, they found there was no simple solution to the issue and ultimately concluded that restrictions would be unfair and counter-productive.

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"The TTC already has policies regarding carrying large items and there is no current pressing need to change these policies," argues a staff report going to the commission in advance of their next meeting, on Feb. 25.

"These policies attempt to strike a balance between the needs of customers to transport items by public transit and the capacity and safety impacts these items may have. Although some congestion issues do arise on some routes during particular times due to strollers, the impact of their use does not appear to have an effect that is any greater than that of other items that customers carry."

In their report, staff noted that the layout of new vehicles could ameliorate crowding issues brought on by strollers and argued that there was a philosophical reason not to restrict access.

"Quite simply, public transit must widen its reach to the broadest range of society to ensure that it fulfils its fundamental purpose – to move people," the report states. "Staff, as well, reject any notion of charging a premium for using strollers – or any other item not restricted by current policy."

In January, Elsa La Rosa, a 61-year-old Toronto resident, came to city hall Monday to urge the 11-person commission to consider limiting the number of strollers allowed on buses during peak hours and to impose a $2 charge on each one.

The complaint sparked strong reactions across the city, with pundits weighing in on both sides.

"Don't expect this debate to go away quietly," Tralee Pearce warned at globeandmail.com. "Some are suggesting other ways to curtail the impact of strollers, which include having parents and caregivers fold them up and hoist children in their arms, which sounds like a great reason to never leave the house."

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But others, including Globe television critic John Doyle, suggested that stroller size has gone out of control.

"Like anyone who lives downtown I'm often gobsmacked by the sight of a bourgeois mom dragging a stroller the size of a Nissan Pathfinder onto a bus, streetcar or the subway," he wrote. "And it is, as they say, a 'bourgy' thing. The ostentation of the giant stroller is the hallmark of the well-off, middle-class mother."

With a file from Elizabeth Church

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