ontario line road closures

Busy Toronto street braces for years of Ontario Line construction headaches

Construction for the Ontario Line is expected to shut down stretches of major Toronto streets to traffic for years, and interests representing Yonge Street and its surroundings are preparing for the extended disruptions with a plan to keep the area thriving through the traffic chaos.

Yonge Street will remain open as a north-south artery during the lengthy Ontario Line construction period, but Queen Street will be closed to traffic on either side for a period of over four years, creating messy conditions along the heart of Toronto's central north-south thoroughfare.

Recognizing the challenging conditions ahead for businesses, residents and visitors to one of the city's most-travelled areas, the Downtown Yonge BIA has announced a multi-pronged plan to mitigate expected disruption to the shops, restaurants, offices, and residences that populate the densely-packed area.

"The Ontario Line is a welcome addition to Toronto's transit network and we look forward to it being built. While it is being built, we are taking steps to ease the impact of construction – to keep our community safe, clean and vibrant," says Cheryll Diego, Downtown Yonge's Public Realm Experience Director.

The Downtown Yonge BIA's plan includes a layered approach to managing the construction headaches expected to plague intersections with four-plus-year closures planned, like Yonge and Queen.

Perhaps most importantly, the plan is built on a foundation of communication with Metrolinx.

The BIA has been in communication with the regional transit agency to ensure that there will be a regular flow of updates throughout construction, briefing local businesses and residents with newsletters, e-blasts and social media posts throughout the lengthy construction period.

"We are counting on Metrolinx and its project team to keep us updated on any changes as construction progresses, so we can share the information with our community," Diego says.

In addition to communication, the BIA's plan factors in the area's aesthetics and accessibility, with Diego describing "creative paths around the construction areas – with clear signage pointing the way," and collaboration with Metrolinx to develop "interesting hoarding to be more visually appealing" than standard construction fencing.

She stresses that the BIA will work to ensure all construction sites in the area are well-maintained and provide unobstructed paths for pedestrians, loading, and deliveries to keep businesses running smoothly.

The BIA also hopes to use promotions like events and placemaking initiatives to draw people into the area amid construction, including planned summer events like Luminato, Pride, College Park After Hours movie nights, Play the Parks music concerts, and walking tours.

Other measures will be less visible to businesses and residents, like the BIA's plan to track data, including pedestrian and vehicle traffic and make adjustments on the fly.

"Recovery from the pandemic is only just beginning. There is no reason for Ontario Line construction to slow it down," Diego says.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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