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Parts of Church St. to be transformed into public space

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / June 25, 2013

Parklets TorontoChurch Street is about to get a shot of neighbourhoodiness and people power. Several parking spots in the village are going to get a makeover in July and August: they'll be transformed from camping spots for cars into resting places for humans. That's to say, they're going to be turned into mini-patios, or "parklets."

Eight parklets will be installed on the east side of the street. One will take over six parking spots between Wellesley and Maitland, and another will span seven spots between Maitland and Alexander. There will be more just north of Wellesley, in between Gloucester and Monteith Streets.

This is the first time in Toronto that parking spaces will give way to human spaces, though the project does takes its inspiration from last year's Celebrate Yonge experiment (pictured above). The parklets will sit on wooden patios that will be level with sidewalks. They'll feature tables, benches and chairs, and planters for that jungle vibe. (No piglets, though). Half of the patios will be extensions to pre-existing patios for businesses along the stretch, and the rest will notably be unlicensed places for members of the public to chill.

What do you think? Will this makeover infuse new life into the Village?

Discussion

31 Comments

torontodude / June 25, 2013 at 04:14 pm
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wow..that is awesome news and a perfect place to do this
Andrew / June 25, 2013 at 04:28 pm
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This is exciting! But I'm interested to see how Toronto is going to handle the even further lack of parking once completed or parking price spikes anywhere near Church St.
gazzzz / June 25, 2013 at 04:35 pm
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Heres hoping we all get a face full of exhaust fumes just like lasts years cluster fuk of an experiment on the Yonge St patios.

torontodude replying to a comment from gazzzz / June 25, 2013 at 04:47 pm
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hmm never thought of that....they should follow montreal's example and close church st from wellesley to wood from july 1 - labour day, friday 7pm to sunday 10pm
P replying to a comment from gazzzz / June 25, 2013 at 05:24 pm
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Some people are never happy... It's a start.
gazzzz / June 25, 2013 at 05:45 pm
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You'd think it was a good start.

But its loud as hell, pollution in your drinks and food, etc.

Its simply not a good idea to put patios on a street. Theres a reason patios are recessed in from the streets.
Stan Smith / June 25, 2013 at 06:05 pm
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Oh citizens of Toronto... You are just never happy no matter what anybody does!
I for one like this idea, if you dont want pollution in your drinks or food then don't eat and drink there...
Lemme guess the next comment... Oh bigger patios for the smokers to take over... Oh well... Get over it.
Kevin Borden / June 25, 2013 at 07:21 pm
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I think it is a great idea, we are slowly loosing our village and the community feel it use to have. This idea will bring people back to the neighborhood just to hangout. This is going to be much different from the Yonge street experiment, for one thing there is far less car traffic ad the patios will be raised. I saw give it a chance before you tear it apart. Thanks Wong Tam for the idea.
YgdrasilFive / June 25, 2013 at 07:34 pm
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Thumbs down.
Stalled exhausty vehicles, bumping shoppers, and cyclists weaving in and out of the area. great. Lost revenue of how many hundreds of dollars per square foot of cash flow through businesses and city coffers for the limitless transit loot wanted. Bankrupt Detroit #2 coming up because hey we want a 'community feel' rather than allowing the drivers who are more likely to have the high-power jobs that are actually keeping this city afloat to get around in this city. We are not Europe. We don't want to be a European City - they are poor and poserish. If you want interesting patio space, put it up on the endless tower roofs throughout or build sidewalk 'balconies' above. Please lets get a bit creative and stop trying to push out the drivers who are the only citizens in this city actually paying their fair share of revenue.
McRib replying to a comment from YgdrasilFive / June 25, 2013 at 07:52 pm
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^ just f*ck off.
Mark / June 25, 2013 at 08:12 pm
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YgdrasilFive makes sense to me.
Dogma replying to a comment from YgdrasilFive / June 25, 2013 at 08:55 pm
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At ease, panic button, we're talking a couple of blocks on a secondary street taking away space that would be filled with, what, a dozen cars at best? It's worth a try and if it doesn't work we can begin installing our "sidewalk balconies" as per your suggestion: "I never touch the ground thanks to my sidewalk balcony!" The wealthy motorists below will smile happily as the plebeians trundle about on their sidewalk balconies.
Derek / June 25, 2013 at 08:58 pm
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I agree with YgdrasilFive here. Making it more expensive to drive is going to hurt a large part of the population's ability to make a living -- far more so than it'll help anyone.
iSkyscraper / June 25, 2013 at 09:13 pm
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Better late than never. Other cities have been doing this for years.

It's a shame that only low-level stuff like this can get done in Toronto. Any higher-order improvements to streetscapes or pedestrians or bike infrastructure get blocked by Mayor Biff Tanner.
mikey / June 25, 2013 at 09:29 pm
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Um, It's a dozen parking spots at most.. there are two underground parking garages just across the street on the west side that have hundreds of spots, not to mention the one just north of carlton on church. The reason why it's only lasting two months is because it's an experiment to try it out. Church St sidewalks are already crammed with cyclists and scooters and 80yr old smokers and panhandlers... time to give us pedestrians a break for once. Driving a car and parking should be expensive, just like it is in every other civilized city... I fear the idiocracy is winning when I read these comments some times!
SimonsMom / June 25, 2013 at 09:41 pm
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Ah, but Queers need their sidewalk cafes.
Jay / June 25, 2013 at 10:10 pm
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Good idea. It's maybe 15-20 parking spots for a couple months and adds some much needed people space in the summer. It's a win win. Some added people space for a small trade in parting spots. This is better in Toronto. Not everything needs to be a ban or a complete loss or a takeaway at the expense of something else.
Kevin Clarke / June 25, 2013 at 11:17 pm
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Great idea, as a person that has seen this work on a much grander scale in Montreal I welcome the experiment to Toronto. There is enough (paid) parking downtown, and motorists should expect to pay park down town. This will incent them to use transit instead.
City's were created by and have always been about people - the more space we can give to then to enjoy the better a city is.
Gary G. / June 26, 2013 at 02:05 am
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So from what I understand from the article is that the businesses on the east side of the street will have extended patios, but what about the businesses on the west side of the street ?
Gary G. replying to a comment from gazzzz / June 26, 2013 at 02:13 am
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And tables thrown out onto the street surrounded by those ugly metal parade barricades......they looked more like Cattle pens.

I hope they learned their lesson from the Yonge St. experiment.......hmmm I have heard nothing about Yonge street businesses chomping at the bit to have a repeat of last year...
steve replying to a comment from YgdrasilFive / June 26, 2013 at 07:58 am
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Such an ignorant elitist comment. Get a life.
Rob replying to a comment from Derek / June 26, 2013 at 08:37 am
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Yes, Derek, all the high powered bankers are going to quit their jobs because 12 parking spots on Church St, all right in front of their banking offices, are being shut down. Funny how you say nothing of the working poor in NW and NE corners of the city who need cars.

How do you fucking people tie your shoes in the morning? Velcro?
the lemur / June 26, 2013 at 09:19 am
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Having a patio actually on the sidewalk doesn't put it that much more out of the way of car fumes and besides, this is not a street that relies heavily on on-street parking for people who work/shop there. No indication that this will involve metal barricades rather than planters. Better to have the patio not taking sidewalk space away from pedestrians; cyclists won't be able to go through it and yes, this is done in some of the wealthiest, most business-centric cities in Europe.
EMQ / June 26, 2013 at 10:07 am
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I have lived in this neighborhood for 30 years, I can only say that this is not a solution to the decline of the village. We need businesses that are committed to the area and not the revolving door of tacky restaurants that come and go with each season. How can Wong-Tam say that traffic will not be affected? Has she tried driving north on Church St.@ 6:00 pm? You can easily sit through 2-3 green lights between Carlton and Wellesley due to the congestion. As a resident who pays to park on the street outside of my home, I frequently cannot find a space due to visitors parking, and can only imagine how much worse it is going to be when the parklets eliminate spaces on Church Street. I am very unhappy with this plan.
Noneed replying to a comment from EMQ / June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am
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No proper businesses will commit to the area, because its exactly what you said it is. Its in decline.
The need for a "village" is long best its best before date.

The City of Toronto is now a Village.

This area will stay the same, in all its tacky glory, until everyone realizes its time to completely give up on the antiquated idea that the LGBT community needs some sort of confined space for themselves.

Time to let go.
Steven / June 26, 2013 at 10:46 am
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Great idea as long as they don't just turn into extended patios to drink alcohol on. The village has enough spots to drink - Let's do something creative with the spots and make them gathering places for ALL, not just the happy hour (make that all day drinking) crowd.
Aaron replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / June 26, 2013 at 11:32 am
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Oh yeah... For the rest of TIME, I'm calling Ford "Mayor Biff Tanner"
Derek replying to a comment from Rob / June 26, 2013 at 01:53 pm
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Rob, who said anything about "high-powered" bankers? Even you acknowledged the working-class people who need cars to make their living. Those buildings that those bankers work in don't need handymen and contractors, not to mention all the other services the upper class demand?
Za-Moon-Da / June 27, 2013 at 11:15 am
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Love how the steps were apparently drawing the wrong (read poor) queers but hey, let's give the gay yuppies a chunk of the street to relax on. So tired of the Village. Also, families killed the Village, as families kill anything fun.
Moaz Ahmad / June 27, 2013 at 03:11 pm
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They've been doing this in Port Credit fir the past 3 summers. The difference is that the patios are on the sidewalks and the 'parklets' are used like boardwalks to walk around the patios.

SInce Port Credit doesn't have enough sidewalk space to begin with (considering the number of visitors) the parklets are welcome.

Take a trip over to Port Credit this Canada Day long weekend and see the parklets for yourself.
Alex / June 27, 2013 at 03:44 pm
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The yonge street one had cool stuff on it though, like a giant chess board and connect four. If it has more than just patio space it would be fun.

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