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Yonge and Bloor streets to go car-free this summer

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 24, 2014

open streets torontoA large portion of Yonge and Bloor streets will be handed over to pedestrians, cyclists, and outdoor community events for two Sundays this August as part of an plan to create two temporary linear parks.

The Open Streets concept, which has been adopted in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles, promotes physical activity and allows businesses on the route to temporarily open onto the street (no outside vendors are allowed.) Toronto's event, the first of its kind in the city, will operate on Sundays two weeks apart: Aug 17th and 31st.

Bloor will be closed to auto traffic from Spadina to Parliament and Yonge from Bloor to Queen from 8 a.m. to noon. Intersecting streets will remain open and cars allowed to pass through the event.

The event has been in the works for more than a year. Originally, organizers planned to open up a larger portion of Bloor and Yonge, from High Park to Greenwood on the Danforth and Bloor south to Queens Quay, over a larger number of Sundays.

What do you think of the idea?

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the time of the events.

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



dorp / July 24, 2014 at 11:27 am
So like Gucci and Louis Vuitton will be selling purses off fold up tables on Bloor St kind of thing?
Audio Blood / July 24, 2014 at 11:30 am
This is a great idea, especially for Yonge. The amount of events/concerts that occur in Y&D Square that will be encouraged to the pubic and go uninterrupted, is awesome!
Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 11:38 am
Horrible, horrible idea. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of pedestrian areas...but this is one of the biggest intersections in the city, and a major north south/east west artery. Closing it down will create chaos, and more traffic nightmares in an already congested city. Why not pick another side street to do this on, cumberland or yorkville etc...Same result and less mess.
mar replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 11:56 am
fuck off. Church or Bay, Dupont or Wellesley. Plenty of options. Its two weekends. the sky will not fall.
adam / July 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm
steve / July 24, 2014 at 12:06 pm
I like the idea of using Yonge st
But Bloor seems like a bad idea
An east west street with a more varied shopping experience would have been a better choice. Maybe Queen
Cameron / July 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm
@counterbalanceband It's a Sunday. Don't drive for one day in your life.
Rick replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm
If only they'd chosen the two major streets that have subways running underneath them so that people could still travel along those streets with ease.

Oh.... wait....
Lol replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm
If someone looked up the word idiot in the dictionary, your picture would be beside it.
Roy / July 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm
Hardly the first of its kind, young man!

Also, get off my lawn!
Bite Mark replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm
Other cities do this on main streets. What's the problem here? Get a grip. Those are tiny little streets concentrated in Yorkville... Bloor extends across a bunch of neighbourhoods. So does Yonge. Seems like the obviously better choice. Those poor downtrodden drivers will find a way to survive for TWO Sundays.
Mike / July 24, 2014 at 12:17 pm
Nobody cries when Taste of Danforth closes a large stretch of the Danforth. Instead of complaining, why don't you go out to enjoy the festivities. Whiners.
Chris replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm
.....Or you can simply take the subway that runs directly underneath both streets instead of using your car?
Florian / July 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm
According to the website its from 8am until 12pm, that is NOON, not midnight. That makes a whole difference. Almost not worth it, it seems.
shambo / July 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm
Finally! It's nice to see this happening here. If New York can do it so can we!
Red / July 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm
If in fact the closure is 8am to noon as the web site indicates, I can't imagine anyone really noticing. I agree ... why do it at all. Should be all day!
Charlie Currie / July 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm
I think its funny that it says " Toronto's event, the first of its kind in the city," when this was a regular event in Toronto in the 70s.
iSkyscraper / July 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm
In fact, embedding this video in the article would probably be a good idea. It's the original and largest Ciclovia/OpenStreet:

Dave / July 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm
Noon, not midnight. It's just two Sunday mornings. Or away your apocalyptic predictions, folks.

The original proposal was 11km, turns out it's actually going to be just under 5. This compromise results in a way less accessible, compelling event. I hope it's successful and can expand in the future.

I'm sure the organizers did their best, but, you know...this city.
Marlowe3000 / July 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm
links replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / July 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm
I always appreciate the additional context and links that your share. Thanks!
Ronald P replying to a comment from Cameron / July 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Or sleep in - it's over by noon.
Mike / July 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm
Really? 8 am to noon on a Sunday morning? How many people are hoping to attract during this weird time slot? Ten?
Jason / July 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm
Wow. I never cease to be amazed by the timidity of the city. Yonge street, which used to be a pedestrian mall for 11-weeks straight, is being closed off for two Sundays from 8 AM to NOON. Why even bother?

Yonge street, King to College, should be pedestrian-only for June-August, every summer.
Steven / July 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm
If it really is from 8 AM to Noon it is the lamest non-event ever. Nobody is even out at that time on a Sunday. But this is BlogTO and I would almost bet it's Midnight. They would most likely think that 12 PM is midnight.
Ronald P / July 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Christie Pits/ Shaw bike lanes would have been a much better west end start/end point, rather than Spadina. But, of course, High Park would've been even better. Or Rob Ford's house in Etobicoke.
John / July 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Easy people, all valid points, and you did a great job explaining why it it not such a bad idea, but you (few) don't have to get so mad at counterbalanced. It was a statement and a not very aggressive one, if you're so passionate about it, you can attempt to convince the counterbalancer. Be easy and help your fellow out. There, now we can live together
-pedestrian, cyclist, subway sardine, driver of autos :)
joseph / July 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm
as someone who lives right on bloor i wonder how will emergency vehicles handle this?
jem / July 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm
8am till noon?? 4 hours??
Common Sense / July 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm
It's funny, I was just thinking to myself "boy I wish there was some way we could create more traffic chaos and introduce more exhaust emissions into the atmosphere on the weekends. I find Sunday mornings tend to be particularly offensive, what with the fresh air and ease of which we can move around the city. And by Sunday I'm really missing the who mayhem of weekday rush hour.

If only some lefty nutjob Councillor would rise to the occasion and suggest we waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars (cause lord knows I'm not poor enough either) closing down a few vital streets on Sunday, I thought to myself. But who, who in Council is really that effing stupid?

Then came along Kristyn WRONG-Tam and her "bright" idea of effing up Sundays for a couple of weekends in Toronto.

Oh joy! More traffic congestion AND more pollution!!! Does it get any better? I think not.

Good job WRONG-Tam. When you retire some day be sure to throw yourself a nice $12,000 lunch on us taxpayers, like your predecessor, Kyle (I LOVE your money) Raye.

Kate / July 24, 2014 at 01:03 pm
this is not a first-time event in Toronto, maybe check your own archives

to people getting hyped up - it's a 4 hour Sunday-morning experiment on only 2 days. Chill.
Marc replying to a comment from Common Sense / July 24, 2014 at 01:07 pm
Gurl, take your ritalin.
jd83 / July 24, 2014 at 01:07 pm
This is great. Except the hours.

Do most shops in those sections even open before 10am on a Sunday? Some even open at noon. Doesn't the Subway not even run til 9?

Matt replying to a comment from Common Sense / July 24, 2014 at 01:14 pm
It is privately funded through donations and sponsorship, so you don't have to get your panties in a twist about tax dollars being spent.

If you want to avoid emissions then I suggest you take the subway to Yonge and Bloor at around 8:15 on 17th Aug, you won't see a car for almost 4 hours :)
Steven / July 24, 2014 at 01:29 pm
Any true Totontonian doesn't drive on Yonge or Bloor in that part of the city anyway. It's for taxis and delivery trucks. I agree with doing it every Sunday from June to August.
Herb Green / July 24, 2014 at 01:39 pm
Hey look! I think Mr Jones has his head up his ass!....We had better hurry up and smell the roses , we wouldn't want to miss out!
rk / July 24, 2014 at 01:39 pm
If they are going to do this from 8am-noon the subway should start earlier on those two Sundays
Rick replying to a comment from Common Sense / July 24, 2014 at 01:51 pm
Four hours a day on two Sundays.

That's a total of 8 hours this year that these streets will be closed for this event.

There are 8760 hours in a year. That means these streets will be closed for less than 1% of the year.

Therefore, even if it does "create more traffic chaos and introduce more exhaust emissions into the atmosphere" (which I doubt it will considering when and where it's taking place) it's only doing so for 1% of the year.

It's going to be okay. We'll all get through this.
cm / July 24, 2014 at 01:53 pm
Great idea but I think a little over the target ... I would rather love to see a more european city approach where for example queen would be closed from bathurst or spadina to university every weekend in summer.
amy teill replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 24, 2014 at 02:21 pm
If Times Square can survive this I'm sure we will too. There's another insane option; don't drive for once in your life, walking is good for you!
Omer / July 24, 2014 at 02:26 pm
Mel Lastman tried a similar event along yonge that I thought was quite good and it didn't work. I think we waste a lot of resources on this type of thing when we have so many already existing venues in need of repair and could use the attention and money. I will look forward to shopping LV on the sidewalk. Instead of trying to copy other cities, it would be great if we can create our own identity.
Omer / July 24, 2014 at 02:29 pm
This will also help with pushing traffic into residential areas which is always something to look forward too as well. Sounds like a Krisyan Wong-Tam initiative.
Kk / July 24, 2014 at 02:58 pm
Yeah the 8am -12pm is kindif lame on a Sunday - I see two problems - a) subways don't start till 9am on Sundays b) stores don't open till 10 or later
Craig replying to a comment from dorp / July 24, 2014 at 03:47 pm
"Bloor will be closed to auto traffic from Spadina to Parliament "
Winston / July 24, 2014 at 04:04 pm
Looking at some of the Open Streets festivals in other cities (thanks to iSkyscraper for the links), it seems that most events are 4 - 5 hours on a Sunday (some Saturday) morning.
The idea isn't so much to create a "pedestrian mall", but rather to set aside space within the city for a number of free fitness/activity events.
Kirsten / July 24, 2014 at 04:53 pm
Only 4 hours on a Sunday? Not much of an impact.
JK replying to a comment from mar / July 24, 2014 at 05:29 pm
The guy was only making a suggestion. Take it easy asshole.
MF / July 24, 2014 at 05:37 pm
In other news, the Gardiner, Lakeshore Blvd, Queens Quay, and the DVP will be closed on August 17th and 31st.
Barry / July 24, 2014 at 06:11 pm
I think the linear park should be closed to cyclists as well. But alas this stupid scheme was probably concocted by someone whose bicycle helmet was on too tight. Would they close Fifth Avenue in NYC or Michigan Ave in Chicago? Toronto isn’t Calgary, Pittsburgh or Buffalo.
People live downtown in this city. Even on Sunday mornings.
thatguy / July 24, 2014 at 06:54 pm
Might only be 4 hours but it's a start and for a person like me who thinks driving in certain parts of Toronto should cease completely (except delivery, emergency, trades services, etc.) this is a push in the right direction. Folks are concerned with car exhaust pollution, well no driving solves that problem. Anyone choosing to drive on one of these two Sundays in those areas are complete fools. Like so many have said, suck it up and take transit, walk or bicycle. Walking more than the ten feet from your front door to your car will not kill you. Power to the pedestrian!
Gary / July 24, 2014 at 06:57 pm
Relax and have some fun Toronto. Cities are for people, so let's get out and enjoy our city. Before you know it, winter will return and we'll all be in hibernation. Enjoy your life!
Dave replying to a comment from Barry / July 24, 2014 at 08:22 pm
Good point. New York would NEVER close Fifth Avenue. That would be ridiculous.

Park Avenue, on the other hand...

Oh yeah, and it's three days not two; two hours longer each day; and more than twice as long a route.

Did I mention this is the fourth year they've done it?
The Clever Pup / July 24, 2014 at 08:57 pm
Wow, Two Sundays. Tremble, tremble.
a / July 24, 2014 at 09:57 pm
Chris Bateman, tell us more about an plan to create two temporary linear parks.
Erick / July 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm
So why is there a picture of Dundas Square then?
Dave / July 25, 2014 at 03:02 am
What's with all these people hating on drivers so much?

You know who's usually driving from 8-noon on Sunday? Working people. Not everyone has the luxury to just sleep in or take public transit. If most of you haven't notice the transit system is this city is completely unreliable (we have delays at midnight on weekdays for crying out loud), and for some of us, it's pretty hard to bring the tools we need to work with or make the deliveries we need to make on the subway.

I guess if you don't drive you can't relate, but with the perpetual state of construction in this city, the last thing we need is more road closures pushing cars and trucks onto residential roads and creating more traffic. Sorry not all of us have the luxury of taking the streetcar to brunch Sunday morning
Sean / July 25, 2014 at 07:29 am
Have the merchants set up their stuff at the Leslie Street Spit. No cars there and it won't inconvenience traffic.
ahh replying to a comment from Dave / July 25, 2014 at 09:37 am
life choices, buddy.

Babs / July 25, 2014 at 09:59 am
This idea is completely and utterly asinine. To stress the degree of asinine-ness - definition of asinine is 'completely and utterly foolish'. The double 'completely and utterly' is intended.
I think that any employee of any corporation or small company would be fired and walked out the door for purposely making problems which are already horrendous, into much bigger and more serious problems. I don't believe I have ever seen this degree of incompetence and negligence by city planners in my life. There are already far too many closures due to construction without adding closures for anything else to the mix.
I have several questions for (or about) city planners.
Why are they not approving festivals and charity events to take place in local parks rather than closing the city streets, which, in case they don't have any understanding of the city at all, are already too congested?
Why are they approving adding to this already excessive number of festival and charitable event road closures, by approving these two new closures 'for no reason at all'?
Why would they encourage people to take the subway on the weekends, and then turn around and approve closing the subway, on the same weekends as several road closures they are also accountable to approve?
Do they not have any sense of accountability to the hundreds of thousands of people they have moved into the downtown core by approving so many condos to be built in the last 5 years? Do they really think these people want hundreds of thousands more people moving into their local neighbourhood almost every single Sunday - not allowing them to do 'normal Sunday family life' at all?
Do they not realize that there are people coming into the city on Sundays, also for normal Sunday family life, given that 100s of thousand more people (family members) live downtown than 5 years ago?
Do they not understand that people work downtown on Sundays, and that the subway does not open until 9am - that is, on the weekends when the subway is not closed? Some of these people need to take their car to work on Sundays for other reasons,
Have they ever tried to get around downtown Toronto on weekends? Even walking and riding a bike are problems when there are charity events and parades.
In this age of technology, does one planner not have access to what has already been approved by other planners for that day??????? Working in the technology field, and knowing how immediately accessible on-line calendars are to all employees in a corporate network, I don't get this specific incompetence at all.

May I please have the option on my city taxes, to opt out of supporting any city planner who approves closing city streets for anything other than street construction? Could we, as downtown residents, similarly to the option to choose whether we support public or catholic education on our taxes, have the option to choose to whether or not to support festivals and charitable events in our neighbourhood (ie to financially support the city planners who approve such)? We should at least see some financial benefit for this intrusion on our neighbourhood because of city planners who do not support our interests?
ok / July 25, 2014 at 10:27 am
I don't mind the street closing once in awhile, but there is something eerie about a massive wide strip of asphalt trying to pass as a cozy pedestrian corridor. Montreal does this in the summer on Ste Catherine and it is an odd, charm-free spectacle, looking like a landing strip at an airport with people silently trudging down the middle past clunky temporary outdoor patios billowing out cigaret smoke. The truth is, of course, it is an elaborate way to circumvent anti-smoking laws but no one actually admits this. Interesting pedestrian corridors around the world are narrow, and because they are permanent you can have charming features like trees, flowers or cobblestones. The asphalt landing strip is never going to have any charm, but it encourages people to get out and walk for a weekend, so therefore is harmless. There are places in Toronto that should be permanently pedestrian only, like Kensington Market.
hamish / July 25, 2014 at 10:48 am
On one hand, we're sooo behind many other places that have gone and opened up their streets to citizens and residents, and it has seemed great. On the other hand, I'm less convinced that we should have been trying Bloor vs. King or Queen, places that we really need to clear the cars off to expedite the transit and where we have other options for that linear east-west mobility. Yes, Bloor and Yonge have subways which make it really good for squeezing the cars; but the less local/non-grassroots 8-80cities folks are less sensitive to nuance it seems. If we'd done Queen or King, imagine the fun of having a modal race or two - bikes vs. streetcars, but have the police cheat on behalf of the transit to let them GO! so a trip from Dufferin to University is like 8 minutes... or so.
Karl / July 25, 2014 at 11:04 am
First off, noon is *m*. Just plain *m*. It requires neither a nor p to modify it. Secondly, midnight - who cares! You should all be asleep! Sheeeesh! I'll be at the cott-âge both weekends. So. I. Don't. Care.
Ford More Beers / July 25, 2014 at 11:55 am
I'm increasingly convinced that there's a lot of back door palm greasing going on around these events that are closing main arteries of the city. It's become an occurance on just about every weekend now. Last weekend we had something like 12 street festivals shutting down roads. There are marathons, biking events, triathlons every week. All this combined with the amount of ridiculous road construction going on and the city is becoming immobilized. What city government would allow all of this to keep snowballing unless they were taking bribes from event organizers who are also laughing their way to the bank?

For those of you who are saying "stop whining and take the subway"... The subway isn't reliable enough to move everybody without having other avenues for us to get around. Last week my pregnant wife and I were stranded at Ossington because the subway stopped due to a problem 5 stops further down the line, along with a giant crowd of Jays fans who were all trying to get home. Good luck trying to catch a cab in a giant crowd of Jays fans who are also trying to get home.
jen replying to a comment from Babs / July 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm
It's 4 frickin' hours. Suck it up, buttercup.
Ford More Beers replying to a comment from jen / July 25, 2014 at 02:23 pm
It's not just 4 hours. It's an ongoing problem that affects the city for the entire summer. You could say "It's 4 frickin' hours" every single weekend for all of the festival closures and pretty soon you've got hundreds of hours of backlogged traffic and missed commitments for citizens across the whole city. People have more important things to do than just wandering around and perusing discount shoe sales in the middle of a street.
Ian Payton / July 25, 2014 at 04:47 pm
I totally agree with shutting down Yonge Street (From King street up to Bloor, but allow East West traffic through on major streets)on every Sunday, maybe even Saturdays too. But I have to call BS on shutting down Bloor, as we have so few major East West routes through uptown and it will be traffic hell. Remember that there is no northern alternative to Bloor.
I live downtown and walk almost everywhere, so it will little effect on me, so much as it will just force more traffic in the already congested downtown routes and put cyclists and pedestrians at risk of road raged drivers.
Yes, Toronto needs more pedestrian Sunday's, just not ones that will force cars onto down streets.
coretto / July 25, 2014 at 04:52 pm
As usual Toronto takes a great idea and goes half-assed.

8am-noon on only 2 sundays?? 4 hours?? that's it??

Gimmie a break and for the whiners crying for a total of an 8 hour shutdown cause they can't drive their cars downtown? That's what the subway is for or ride your bike if walking is too difficult or hey avoid those hours and sleep in! Be happy you are not being charged a $12 toll to get downtown like in London.
Toomy Zee / July 25, 2014 at 08:26 pm
This is how it should be all the time. And even batter, plant trees in the middle of the roads.
N. Vieira / July 25, 2014 at 08:51 pm
Ian Payton → "no northern alternative to Bloor"???? Sorry, did you say you're from Toronto? Let me help you out. Alternatives → St. Clair Ave., Eglinton Ave., Lawrence Ave., Wilson/York Mills Ave. Enough for all the whiners out there? For all those whining about a 4 hour closure on 2 Sundays, buy yourself a freaking map! You pee in your panties abouttraffuc congestion because you want to keep on driving? That's called the epitome of ignorant hypocricy! Go lock yourself in some toilet and pee yourself all by yourself to yourself. Morons! Only criticism I have about this plan is 4 hours on 2 Sundays is no where near enough! Should be every weekend all summer!
kindred replying to a comment from Counterbalanceband / July 25, 2014 at 10:39 pm
When's the last time you were up and heading downtown on a Sunday morning between 8 and noon? It's dead. People are either sleeping in or at church.
kindred replying to a comment from kindred / July 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm
Oh and let's not forget the subway doesn't even open until 9am Sundays. (And yes, I believe the subway should be open before 9am)
really? that much fun? / July 26, 2014 at 09:07 am
Be honest for one minute; how thrilling is it to walk down a wide road filled with food trucks and bouncy castles? At least Taste of the Danforth has a theme; this is an aimless wander down an empty road. Not sure why people here seem so thrilled about the idea.
stopitman / July 26, 2014 at 09:52 am
If NYC can shutdown 6th Ave on Sundays and survive so can we. Both streets have an added bonus of having a subway directly blow them too.

I live on Yonge in the south core and on Sundays the streets are quiet, so while there will be traffic it will be like it is every other day when people are stupid enough to drive into downtown and expect it to be a breeze. If you live/work/visit downtown you should fully expect there to be events and road closures, if you think otherwise maybe it's best to stay away.
Robb / July 27, 2014 at 11:33 am
Great idea but why only 8am-noon? Why not the whole day being a Sunday? Montreal closes part of St.Catherine all summer all day and it is a major street.
@steve re:Queen st. not Bloor. Queen street has street are for public transit. Bloor has an underground. Bloor is a wiser choice. Not hard to alter your travel plans if driving!!
B. Ross Ashley / July 27, 2014 at 06:36 pm
The Yonge street Pedestrian Mall in 1971-4 did not kill the Strip. I worked in a bookstore on the Strip in summer of '73 and there was no more or less business than usual.
Heather replying to a comment from Kirsten / July 30, 2014 at 01:16 pm
Fabulous idea !
Sure hope it takes off - this can become permanent toward a people friendly inner city.
al / July 30, 2014 at 01:30 pm
Well considering this is such a late announcement and with all of the construction going on in this city take what you can get.

We cannot afford to close major roads like bloor and Yonge for very long
GerryB replying to a comment from Barry / August 30, 2014 at 04:59 pm
Some people actually work on Sundays as well!
GerryB replying to a comment from stopitman / August 30, 2014 at 05:03 pm
Good idea to stay out of downtown Toronto. I run a service business and believe I will stop servicing clients south of Bloor from now on.
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