More car-free days, but fewer street festivals coming this summer.
Kensington Market has finalized its Pedestrian Sunday schedule for 2012, and while the neighbourhood will be closed to auto traffic more days this year than in the past, the street closures won’t be happening quite as frequently as we thought they were going to be, when last we checked in, at the beginning of February.
Then, we were told by Mika Bareket, owner of kitchen-implements store Good Egg and a member of the Kensington Market BIA’s board of management, that the BIA had decided to hold weekly street closures from the end of May to the end of September. This would have meant a massive increase relative to previous years, when Kensington Market barred auto traffic only on the last Sunday of each month, from May to October, for its increasingly popular Pedestrian Sunday street festivals.
Unbeknownst to Bareket—and to us, when we published our post—February’s proposed closure schedule wasn’t quite ready for publication (though the BIA did publish it itself, before we did, on its own website). Kensington Market BIA Coordinator Yvonne Bambrick had always intended to bring the schedule back to the Market’s fractious stakeholder community before finalizing it. Which she has now done.
Here it is, for the record:
May 27, July 29, and September 30 will be Pedestrian Sundays as we know them. There will be live street performances, and the entire market will be closed to auto traffic.
Every Sunday in August, and every Sunday in September other than September 30, Kensington’s streets will also be closed, using soon-to-be-installed permanent swing gates, for a new, toned-down kind of event, Market Sundays. In contrast to Pedestrian Sunday Festivals, there will be no programmed street performances, and fewer road closures (less of Augusta Avenue will be gated off, and people will be allowed to leave their cars parked on the streets). The idea of the Market Sundays is to prioritize pedestrians without the noise and crowding usually associated with Pedestrian Sundays.
There are a few reasons the closures have been scaled back from the initial proposal, one of them being that the Market’s new permanent swing gates, which will allow the BIA to close streets without paying to rent temporary barriers, aren’t expected to be installed until late June. (They’ll be removed temporarily in winter.)
Another reason is that some of Kensington’s businesspeople and property owners have long been at odds with Pedestrian Sunday’s organizers over crowding and noise. Retailers claim the throngs drive away paying customers and some residents resent the intrusive drumming and loud music from street performers.
“Folks thus far have understood road closures to mean party in the street,” said Bambrick. “We’re trying something new. We’re trying to help Kensington Market sustain itself, with the added pressure of development in the area on all sides, and hopefully it’s something that will work and make the Market stronger.”
We originally neglected to include the official name of the new kind of street closure (Market Sundays) and the subtitle of this article conflated them with Pedestrian Sundays. We’ve corrected both matters, and regret the error.