high park cars banned

Here's why people want to completely ban cars from a busy Toronto park

High Park is arguably ground zero in Toronto's triangular conflict between cars, cyclists, and pedestrians, and the public space is once again a battleground in a new bid to ban drivers from the park's network of roads.

A new petition is seeking an end to car traffic in High Park, calling on the public in hopes of gaining 2,000 signatures to sway the city into implementing new automobile restrictions for the busy park.

"It's time for a car-free High Park," reads the petition's call to action.

"We believe that High Park should become a natural refuge from the stresses of city life - a healthy environment where people can enjoy the park free of motor traffic and the accompanying air pollution, noise, and threat of injury," states organizer Car Free High Park Coalition (CFHPC).

The coalition cites the city's closing of High Park to vehicles on weekends since 2020, and the positive impacts of that move, such as attracting families with young children and park users with disabilities. The group argues that closing High Park to cars for good would make the park safer, more accessible, and improve its natural environment.

The petition quotes former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who told Big Apple citizens in 2018 that "our parks are for people, not cars," when permanently closing car traffic in the city's famous Central Park.

High Park could be considered Toronto's (smaller) equivalent to Central Park, and CFHPC is hoping that local politicians follow the example set by what is arguably one of the world's greatest parks in one of the best cities.

"If a park can't be car-free, then what hope do we have of prioritizing low carbon modes of transportation, meeting our climate goals, and putting the health and safety of people first?" asks the petition.

But Toronto is not New York, and High Park is not Central Park. Bill de Blasio's closing of Central Park vehicle traffic did not go completely unopposed, but the political battle between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is a different animal in the 416.

Every spring through fall, High Park seems at the centre of the age-old tug-of-war for infrastructure.

In the polar opposite of the petition to ban cars, there was also a petition last year aimed at keeping the park open to vehicles.

The park is also a frequent spot for bike ticketing blitzes and enforcement by police, all while seemingly ignoring cars speeding along High Park's roads.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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