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Massive open streets festival planned for Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 6, 2014

toronto open streetsA large stretch of Bloor Street, Yonge Street, and Danforth Avenue could be transformed into a massive 11 km car-free plaza for a series of community events this summer, organizers of a Toronto "Open Streets" event say.

The event, championed by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, regionalArchitects and 8-80 Cities, would (tentatively) see Bloor St. and Danforth Ave. closed from High Park to Greenwood on consecutive Sundays for events based around physical activity and community building. Yonge Street would also be closed south of Bloor to Lake Shore.

In cities such as Ottawa, New York City, and Guadalajara (pictured) that already do a similar thing during the summer, Open Streets festivals - sometimes called ciclovias - have seen cycling, picnics, storytelling, games, yoga and dance classes.

Intersecting streets would remain open and traffic would be allowed to cross Bloor, Yonge, and the Danforth. In September last year, Paul Kulig from regionalArchitects said Bloor-Danforth and Yonge make good candidates because of the subway and their "iconic" status within Toronto.

The group also considered Yonge Street and Lake Shore Blvd.

The organizers received $180,000 of provincial funding in 2013 but are still seeking a big-name sponsor to cover the cost of policing the event. 8-80 Cities and Wong-Tam are also working on approval from city council for a pilot event this summer, possibly over three weekends in late July and early August.

What do you think of a Bloor, Danforth and Yonge open streets fest?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: 8-80 Cities



Rob Ford / February 6, 2014 at 11:31 am
Another war on the car!
Rob Ford / February 6, 2014 at 11:40 am
They are declaring WAR on the cars !!
Rob Ford / February 6, 2014 at 11:55 am
Oh man, I need some crack. Wow. So high. Much crack. Wow.
bain / February 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm
This sounds great yes please!
jameson / February 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm
That would be amazing if it were to happen. Sort of doubt that though.
iSkyscraper / February 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm
Since other cities do this, and it is now considered best-practices for urban areas, it can't possibly ever be done in retrograde Toronto.

Can it?
Dave / February 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm
I think it's a great idea. I would definitely spend time there
christine / February 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm
Amazing idea and unbelievable responses. It isn't difficult to find alternative driving routes on Sunday afternoons in the summer. In fact, I'd wager the the alternative routes would be quicker than driving on the Danforth on a sunny day. We all need to get off our duffs and walk more. Bring it on! Very much looking forward to it.
Jeff / February 6, 2014 at 01:03 pm
I like it - I've seen it elsewhere and it is good.

The concept of keeping cross streets open is key, as is the Sunday morning focus. As much as some would like to - we can't afford to have a reputation of having downtown as a place you can't drive to - or that you might get stuck in grid lock for an hour. Downtown must remain accessible to families and tourists. Some might switch to transit, but many will stop coming back. We have stores, businesses and event venues that expect a certain amount of there users to access them by car.
Steve / February 6, 2014 at 01:15 pm
yes, please! But High Park to Greenwood, is a little bit over zealous, no? keep it downtown! (drivers, go frig yourselves and find alternate routes. Not the end of the world.)
Big on Bloor... / February 6, 2014 at 01:19 pm
...has been doing this for years, to great effect.

Always thought they needed a solid sponsor though to pull it together.
mar / February 6, 2014 at 02:26 pm
W. K. Lis / February 6, 2014 at 04:29 pm
Open Streets next venue: Gardiner Expressway
Joe / February 6, 2014 at 04:42 pm
How about we just close Yonge instead of causing complete traffic chaos.
sunshinegal / February 6, 2014 at 05:06 pm
It'd be great to have a little marketplace set up for all the vintage and crafting small business owners! Plus, a booth fee could help subsidize the cost... just a thought!
B. Ross Ashley / February 6, 2014 at 08:18 pm
Old enough to remember the Yonge Street malls ... worked at a bookstore in '73, lots of business.
Pluckysod / February 6, 2014 at 09:36 pm
Danforth is closed so frequently for one event or another all summer long, we'd barely notice the difference. Bring it on!
KB / February 6, 2014 at 09:54 pm
Andrew / February 6, 2014 at 11:43 pm
Sounds great!
ABC / February 7, 2014 at 03:53 am
Kristyn Wong-Tam, you have just attacked Kuwait.
Mark / February 7, 2014 at 08:00 am
They do this every Sunday in Mexico City on a major thoroughfare. They do it once a summer month in Vancouver. And they do it once a summer month in Kensington Market. It's tried, tested and hardly new. Let's support Toronto in breaching the 21st century.
Joel / February 7, 2014 at 09:31 am
Here in Cochabamba, Bolivia they (we) celebrate Dia del Peaton 3 Sundays in the year. No unpermitted motorized vehicles are allowed on the streets from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM. The streets are filled with families and friends walking, cycling, skating, boarding through the entire city. At the main squares and major intersections are entertainment stages, amusement centres and food fairs.
A real celebration.
Andrew / February 7, 2014 at 09:56 am
I love it! Sounds like Surf City Nights in Huntington Beach. They close off a part of the street right off PCH every Tuesday. Sounds like a great idea to me!
Toby Lake / April 8, 2014 at 08:26 am
This is excellent! Another great example of an event to showcase food trucks in. Anyone pretending to be rob ford calling this a "war on the car" is distorting the truth. People were here before cars and we had less wated space.
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