high park car free

Toronto wants to reduce car-free weekends in High Park

The debate about a car-free environment in High Park continues to rage, but it appears as though a reduction in car-free days is on the horizon.

According to the High Park Movement Strategy, which claims to respond "to diverse mobility needs of different user groups," and takes action to "better serve park users," the city prefers to implement permanent, car-free spaces on West Road and Colborne Lodge Drive and car-free Sundays.

The catch? High Park currently operates with car-free weekends, meaning the city would want to reduce this for an entire day.

The city claims these two suggested moves, alongside many others, will bring "improvements to pedestrian and cycling safety and infrastructure" and will greatly reduce the number of cars in the park.

Launched back in 2021, the initiative has been through a "multi-phase engagement process" and the city has heard from thousands of participants — though I doubt cyclists and non-drivers would want to see a reduction in car-free weekends.

The strategy will be presented tonight at a community open house, where the suggestions would be backed up by "improvements to transit and shuttle service, traffic calming measures and changes to parking."

"Further road closures within High Park were strongly supported through the study's engagement and can be upheld as a viable, desirable goal once pre-conditions such as improved transit and shuttle services are in place," said the city.

Because of the park's layout and amenities, the city claims "some accommodation for motorized transport is necessary at this stage in order to meet accessibility and operational needs."

This preferred strategy is just one step in helping the city submit a final recommendation and staff report this spring. A timeline for this potential implementation will be based on city council input.

Though the strategy has been planned out by the city, it does not mean it will go forward in its current state; it can also be amended by council vwhen it goes for approval.

When I asked the city directly if they prefer to implement car-free Sundays rather than car-free weekends, they responded with: "the preferred strategy includes the permanent closure of two park roads to visitor vehicles (West Road and portions of Colborne Lodge Drive) and the continuation of car-free Sundays."

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