Drivers warned of absolute chaos near Toronto's Distillery Winter Village
Toronto's Distillery District is abuzz with lights for the annual Christmas market — known this year as the Distillery Winter Village — but drivers trying to attend the popular celebration are finding themselves in looping gridlock due to a sharp decline in the availability of parking and new changes to the road network.
One resident living near the Winter Village, Instagram user Alanna Harvey, says that it's been traffic pandemonium in the area since the festivities kicked off on Nov. 18, telling blogTO, "it's absolute mayhem down here."
"It seems no one has gotten the memo that there are three new one-way streets in the neighbourhood and pretty much no parking for the Christmas Market this year," said Harvey.
Two new high-rise construction projects started in the neighbourhood since the last market was held in 2019 — previously known as The Toronto Christmas Market — eliminating a pair of vast temporary surface parking lots that festivalgoers may have been counting on.
Harvey says that while there were plenty of temporary surface parking lots set up nearby in previous years, "those are all construction sites now, so if people remember having lots of parking options, there are none now."
Making matters worse, Google Maps still marks these parking lots with a 'P' symbol, and there is little indication for anyone travelling to the area by car that parking options are minimal.
#DistilleryWinterVillage Parking Information: Parking is limited. Take TTC, rideshare, or try our NEW parking lot at 520 Lakeshore Blvd E. Price: $20 per vehicle. Cash only.— The Distillery District (@DistilleryTO) December 3, 2021
Swipe to see the parking lot map. pic.twitter.com/1bp0fknbV9
If you're driving in from a long distance specifically to spend an evening at the Winter Village, only to discover there's nowhere to park, signs and warnings might not be enough to deter illegal parking. Some are even getting creative with their illegal parking.
"I also see a lot of cars getting tickets because they're parking anywhere they can, in spots that say no parking and even on a construction site," said Harvey.
Of course, there are easy ways to avoid getting stuck in the madness, even if you absolutely insist on driving.
"People would save more time by parking somewhere else entirely and walking 10-15 minutes, or taking the TTC since there's a stop right there," Harvey says, referring to the relatively new Cherry Street streetcar loop just east of the Distillery District.
It's something that local city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has been keeping a close eye on, urging drivers to consider alternate means of transportation.
Last Thursday, the Distillery Winter Village launched with a successful tree lighting event to a sold-out venue! Our office has been working hard to address parking and traffic for local residents and pedestrian safety. Learn more: https://t.co/CYIS8nnzED pic.twitter.com/1S9pjwaw7i— Kristyn Wong-Tam 黃慧文 (@kristynwongtam) November 23, 2021
The Winter Village also acknowledges the situation on their website, instructing visitors that "with construction and condo development in the area, parking is very limited."
Organizers recommend that "the best way to travel to The Distillery Winter Village is to take public transit, rideshare, or try Bike Share Toronto."
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