This August, Open Streets TO will turn two iconic routes into hubs of activity and exploration.
On August 17 and 31, Yonge and Bloor will be not merely be routes, but destinations.
As part of a massive street festival known as Open Streets TO, stretches of both thoroughfares will be closed to vehicular traffic and given over to pedestrians and cyclists from 8 a.m. to noon each day. The event will also allow businesses within the festival’s borders to open onto the street (while debarring outside vendors such as food trucks from participating).
The Yonge section of the festival will be bounded by Bloor and Queen Street, while the Bloor section will be bounded by Spadina Avenue and Parliament Street. Both stretches will be closed off to drivers, except at certain intersections where cars will be permitted to cross. The event’s organizers originally pitched a much more expansive festival, but the Toronto Police Service objected because the staffing requirements were too great.
The Open Streets initiative was backed on city council primarily by Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto-Centre, Rosedale). Mayor Rob Ford opposed the initiative, arguing that closing off downtown streets to Sunday morning traffic would cause bedlam.
Open Streets, which has been adopted in cities such as Paris, New York, and Los Angeles, is aimed at promoting physical activity and encouraging residents to explore their urban landscape. At the Toronto event, activity hubs at parks and public spaces along both festival routes will feature free activities put on by community members.