Friday, October 28, 2016Overcast 4°C

Yonge St. might get a lot more pedestrian friendly soon

Posted by Chris Bateman / May 3, 2012

Celebrate Yonge Closure MapTwo lanes of Yonge Street between Gerrard and Richmond Streets could be closed for almost a month as part of Celebrate Yonge, a street festival co-produced by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam scheduled for later this summer. Under the plans heading for council, planters and other foliage will be installed in the street a few metres from the sidewalk to keep traffic to just two lanes. The closed portion side will alternate heading north.

"This is a very high-level, high-energy, urban intervention very similar to what you've seen in cities like New York on Broadway," says Councillor Wong-Tam

"It's not like people just disappear when they leave [Yonge-Dundas Square]. Yonge Street has the highest pedestrian counts in not just Toronto but all of Canada. On a really sunny and warm day you can really see how much of a struggle it is for pedestrians to grab foot real estate on Yonge Street"

The partial closure could be seen as a pilot project for further pedestrianization on Yonge, something Wong-Tam and other experts have championed for years. The idea of cutting back vehicle access has been floated numerous times in the past - it even happened for a short time in the 1970s - but if results of recent surveys are anything to go by, a move like this has the potential to become permanent in future (though political opposition could prove a significant hurdle).Celebrate Yonge Closure MapFor Celebrate Yonge, the new pedestrian zones will be five metres wide, making an eight metre walkable strip when combined with the existing sidewalk. Between August 17, 2012 and Sunday September 16, street vendors, food stands and seasonal patios for restaurants and cafes will all be out on Yonge.

At the end of the month-long celebration, the festival will wrap up with a red carpet event at Elgin Winter Garden and AMC theatres and a free concert in Yonge-Dundas Square to celebrate 30 years of Hard Rock Cafes in North America.

Above is a rough idea of how the pedestrian sections might work. What do you think? Back in the early 1970s, the entire street was closed to vehicular traffic in the summer. Is this compromise approach more prudent?

Photo: by Gadjo Sevilla in the BlogTO Flickr pool.



motorist / May 3, 2012 at 02:49 pm
Bikist replying to a comment from motorist / May 3, 2012 at 02:55 pm
resident / May 3, 2012 at 02:59 pm
Thanks Councillor Tam! Way to fuck up Yonge street.
world class cities have pedestrain zones in their core replying to a comment from resident / May 3, 2012 at 03:04 pm
She is hands down the best city councilor. change your pad whinemouth.
My Kanyo replying to a comment from resident / May 3, 2012 at 03:05 pm
You're clearly not a pedestrian "resident"...
James / May 3, 2012 at 03:05 pm
No resident actually drives downtown Yonge St. This is a non-issue.
James / May 3, 2012 at 03:05 pm
This is a terrible idea. Yonge Street has enough problems with traffic as it is.

I don't even drive and I recognize what a horrid idea this is. I hope this doesn't see the light of day.
Nerves / May 3, 2012 at 03:08 pm
Where the hell is everyone going to pull over illegally?
torontonian / May 3, 2012 at 03:08 pm
its a great idea, bigger cities than Toronto in Europe like Kiev or Budapest close the entire street 3 days a week.. cant wait for it!
Mike / May 3, 2012 at 03:08 pm
As a resident of the area, I'd love to see this happen. Only people who don't know better drive on Yonge and it would probably be great for the businesses along the street to have more pedestrian traffic.

Too bad it's only for a month.
Lydia / May 3, 2012 at 03:12 pm
Vancouver does this all the time - great idea!
Pk / May 3, 2012 at 03:14 pm
I think Blob Ford's head just exploded.
Crybabies / May 3, 2012 at 03:15 pm
LOL at you whiners. Nothing but a bunch of crybabies... Here, let me call the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaambulance.
Rick / May 3, 2012 at 03:20 pm
This is a great idea. I'm so proud that Wong-Tam is my councillor.
Jesse / May 3, 2012 at 03:22 pm
Will people stop comparing Toronto to NYC? I read an article in the metro recently where another counciller referred to the Entertainment District being "exactly like New York"...

Trying to be like New York is not what makes Toronto "cool". Neat, unique neighbourhoods and embracing our own culture, is what makes Toronto cool.
LLULLLLY / May 3, 2012 at 03:27 pm
The only peopel this will affecct isd the Ryersen studs and touristas from Baqrflaloo and DeetRoids.

Let's go bqqk to drnkin ur facez off on assington and move on.
jhgj replying to a comment from world class cities have pedestrain zones in their core / May 3, 2012 at 03:29 pm
Shut up with the world class city shit. We're great because we don't care what other people think.
Chris / May 3, 2012 at 03:30 pm
Really, who are these people that drive up and down Yonge street and care that a lane is taken away? Are these the same 5 people who are inconvenienced on a Sunday morning when a Marathon shuts down the street twice a year? Do they know that a subway runs directly under this street? Didn't our Mayor want to build a subway somewhere else in the city so that people wouldn't have to drive cars on the streets???
Franco / May 3, 2012 at 03:30 pm
Sounds like fun, I can't wait.
Adam / May 3, 2012 at 03:38 pm
AOB / May 3, 2012 at 03:38 pm
I work at the Atrium.

Dont get in my way, and then im cool.
TorontoDan / May 3, 2012 at 03:45 pm
Many more downtown streets should be closed to traffic in the summer. Pedestrian zones are tourist magnets and they create more liveable cities.
AV / May 3, 2012 at 03:46 pm
Wong-Tam for Mayor in 2014. Vaughn will step aside and throw her his support, and Kristyn will win by a mile. Bank on it
Craig / May 3, 2012 at 04:00 pm
Good story, but the Hard Rock Cafe has only been in existence since 1971 and only in North America since 1982. (See Perhaps you mean the 30 year anniversary of the chain in North America?
yup / May 3, 2012 at 04:03 pm
Calgary has a downtown street that they close during certain hours (can't recall the name of it). A summer ago, I was a tourist staying at a nearby hotel for a few days. My wife and I and the kids inevitabely gravitated towards that street for restaurants, shopping, etc. Businesses along there got a lot of my $$s.

Who drives Yonge St. south of Bloor anyways? Take Jarvis, Bay or University. That's what they're there for.
Hugo / May 3, 2012 at 04:10 pm
Perfect! I love pedestrian friendly. Like Europe! Surbanities keep your cars out of this city! Great Idea!
Niklas / May 3, 2012 at 04:16 pm
plant some trees while they are at it if they want to make it nicer
Chris Bateman replying to a comment from Craig / May 3, 2012 at 04:20 pm
Thanks Craig – just changed that.
Marc replying to a comment from Niklas / May 3, 2012 at 04:41 pm
This this a pilot project to test the effects of widened sidewalks and reduced traffic lanes on Yonge. Real trees might be planted if this were to become a permanent change.
world class cities have pedestrain zones in their core replying to a comment from jhgj / May 3, 2012 at 04:53 pm
come at me bro.

I am being tongue in cheek at the twats who are always talking about making toronto a 'world class city' dry your eye
asdf / May 3, 2012 at 04:55 pm
If your stupid enough to drive down Yonge St on a busy summer weekend you deserve to sit in horrible traffic. Less car-friendly infrastructure is good for residents because it could discourage non-residents from using it as a thoroughfare. I wouldn't go so far as supporting Wong-Tam for Mayor but she is definitely a welcome addition to council.
Damien / May 3, 2012 at 06:25 pm
Afraid of change? Read this:

"This item will be considered by Toronto and East York Community Council on May 15, 2012. It will be considered by City Council on June 6, 2012, subject to the actions of the Toronto and East York Community Council."

Want change? Read this:

"This item will be considered by Toronto and East York Community Council on May 15, 2012. It will be considered by City Council on June 6, 2012, subject to the actions of the Toronto and East York Community Council."

Everyone else, carry on, nothing has changed.
Dylan / May 3, 2012 at 06:55 pm
My front door goes directly out on Yonge between Gerrard and Gould so this will affect me every day it's there...

... and I am stoked. Having to deal with the amount of pedestrians on the sidewalks every day gets frustrating and I'm really excited to see how this affects the traffic. Also, the more green the better.
Ἀντισθένης / May 3, 2012 at 07:36 pm
It just slays me how much bile gets spewed by meat-head Ontario drivers who expect to be able to drive in the centre of a city of a couple million as easily as they can in their charmless suburbs, 416 or 905. When a city has the worst commute times in the nation, and the worst fatality rates for pedestrians and cyclists, maybe, just maybe, you 'cagers' are the problem.

Nah... that's crazy talk, must be cyclists causing all the problems, right?

Don't Ontarians ever travel to cities where you aren't always at the mercy of cars? Europe, NY, even Montreal.
S / May 3, 2012 at 08:20 pm
Dumb idea. Delivery of goods and services will be slow. Geez, look at the slow pace on Jarvis since traffic lost a lane.

With planters everywhere, how will emergency vehicles flow through in a hurry?

This isn't Europe or Budapest, it's Canada, Toronto. Quit emulating other countries, cities and leave Yonge Street, Toronto alone.

Wake up Eaton Centre, you'll lose $$$ on your parking because of a dimwit idea.
Derek replying to a comment from Craig / May 3, 2012 at 08:54 pm
That would also mean this Toronto Archives photo is mis-dated.
Grant replying to a comment from Derek / May 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm
283 Yonge Street - Hard Rock Café is listed in the 1981 Toronto business Directory, i just did a York U research project on retail along Yonge, but i don't have any other data than '81 at my finger tips. For sure '82 is wrong.

Jeff S replying to a comment from S / May 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm
Goods and services are not delivered from Yonge Street, but from the back alleys and loading zones. Parking for the Eaton Centre can be accessed from Bay, Dundas and at the end of Shuter--crossing Yonge Street. I'm sure that emergency workers can figure out how to get to where they need to get to, regardless of a portion of the street being blocked off.
Rob Ford / May 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm
Don't worry folks, we will kill this at city council. People want to drive their cars, cars, cars.

Plus Kristyn Wong-Tam is gay and she will never win over the burbs, the burbs are pretty anti-gay just ask smithistealtaxpayermoney.
Will / May 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm
The fact is, sidewalks on Yonge are overflowing with pedestrians. There's a train underneath the street, and rear laneways. It doesn't need 4 lanes just for cars.
Sarah / May 3, 2012 at 11:21 pm
Wong Tam is terrible. She tried to eliminate free parking for bikes last year.
the lemur replying to a comment from Sarah / May 4, 2012 at 12:08 am
Free parking for motorbikes, that is.
Aaron / May 4, 2012 at 01:36 am
Big deal. Montreal completely closes 20 blocks of Ste Catherine street from May to September every year, another 5 from June to September and a few weeks in February. And they have guys walking around selling beer..
Jimmy / May 4, 2012 at 03:17 am
I don't like it. So don't do it. Okay?
Quark replying to a comment from Jimmy / May 4, 2012 at 05:07 am
Then get the frack out of downtown, and stay in the suburbs, moron.
michael / May 4, 2012 at 08:20 am
Kristyn is amazing !! i don't think her being Gay will matter as most of the meatheads in the suburbs are hot for Lesbians LOL
Rob / May 4, 2012 at 09:29 am
Horrible idea. Traffic headaches aside, the people who hang out on Yonge Street between Richmond and Gerrard are typically scum anyway: shithead street kids, wannabe gangsters, religious fanatics, and further south, financial bigwigs (but only on weekdays, before 5pm). I really don't need more muppets like this hanging out, aimlessly.
bobo / May 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm
We're lucky to have Kristyn Wong-Tam - an intelligent, articulate and compassionate City Councillor. I voted for her, and it restores my faith in democracy knowing that we have people like her and Councillor Adam Vaughan standing up for the quality of life of the citizens in our communities.
MitchHatesTraffic / May 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm
About time. The plan even has laybys for all the illegal stopping and loading - no more pulling into a stalled lane.

This isn't about being a world class city - this is about going to the hottest spot downtown and actually being able to enjoy yourself without getting body-checked into traffic.
Rafa replying to a comment from MitchHatesTraffic / May 4, 2012 at 01:59 pm
Hottest spot downtown? Oh need to get out more
iSkyscraper / May 4, 2012 at 03:16 pm
Isn't it hilarious that Toronto now takes lessons from New York on how to tame traffic and improve pedestrian quality of life?

I was just in London, where they did miracles at Leicester Square by removing much of the traffic and greatly improving the pedestrian space. Toronto has linear strips rather than squares but the idea is sound.

The only problem I have is that the actual design sketch looks awful. Bits of bulging sidewalk here and there will do nothing. Why not handle this correctly by, say, closing the northbound lanes entirely (NB traffic can use parallel streets) and having a proper area to expand the pedestrian realm into. The current plan just doesn't do enough.
grrrrrr replying to a comment from S / May 4, 2012 at 03:48 pm
You realize that those older cities in Europe have learned the mistake (or avoided it) of a heavy dependence on cars? This is a problems that plagues North American cities and this is exactly the problem that half of city hall is trying to fix.
Wong / May 6, 2012 at 10:19 am
Wong-Tam is a moron.
Quark replying to a comment from Wong / May 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm
You mean yourself, sir/madame?
bleght replying to a comment from Wong / May 7, 2012 at 09:41 am
You are the moron. She's a proactive, engaging and smart Councillor something our city lacks... nothing ventured, nothing gained. St. Catherine St in Montreal constantly has closed sections in warmer months and guess what? It works! It's nice, it encourages people to leave their cars at home and explore our city on foot! The pros of this are endless, the cons...well, that's just stupid people like you!
numnums / May 8, 2012 at 04:58 am
Montreal's been doing this for years. Even Barrie Ontario does this in front of places that have patios on busy downtown streets. is no big deal, yo! also, shut up until its actually doooone!
numnums / May 8, 2012 at 05:00 am
isn't it funny that its the people that reject ideas like this that complain the most about how "noisy" and "polluted" our city is? LOL
Pro-Ford Comment Trolls / May 9, 2012 at 02:28 am
all we know how to do is whine. waaaaaahhhh!!!!!
scottd replying to a comment from Wong / May 9, 2012 at 03:33 pm
I think we know who the actual moron is.
M1 / May 10, 2012 at 02:59 pm
This would be so amazing! It would be even better if they closed it down to one lane, blocked all cars and made the one lane a two way bike lane.
Jaypeg replying to a comment from Wong / August 15, 2012 at 10:27 am
Agreed, but she will have serious contender in the next election who doesn't live in the left wing bubble. .
zevrix / August 17, 2012 at 05:20 am
Sorry, but what a bad and dangerous idea.

A lot of things is wrong with this idea:

-Putting people in the middle of a busy street is just dangerous and wrong. What will Councillor Wong-Tam do when a bus smashes into one of those "patios" killing people and children?

-People sit right in the middle of the traffic inhaling all the dangerous exhausts going straight into their lungs. Why would anyone want it?

-Also, all the dirt and dust from passing cars goes straight into their food. What a treat!

-All those "patios" just look totally wrong and uncomfortable. People who sit there will just be constantly worrying about being smashed by a bus or a car - and rightly so.

-It strains traffic on a major city arteria, which creates problems for everybody - pedestrians, motorists and public transport passengers. Instead of a mood of "celebration" it only creates annoyance, frustration, confusion and inconvenience.

What's next? "Celebrate 401"? And put people in the middle of a highway?

In 1970s, parts of Yonge Street were completely car-free for weeks. That would be the right thing to do.

The only thing the current implementation achieves is making our great city look weird - and unsafe.
zevrix replying to a comment from bobo / August 17, 2012 at 05:37 am
Nope, people like her and Vaugan voted for the plastic bag ban - another useless initiative of David Shiner (who also wanted to license cyclists). This ban will only reduce the quality of life in our great city. They don't care about the people of Toronto - they only care to make changes for the sake of changes and pushing their own agendas.
Other Cities: Montreal