Group wants to close 10 kilometres of Bloor Street for a giant “Open Streets” festival

Group wants to close 10 kilometres of Bloor Street for a giant “Open Streets” festival

The proposed road closures (Image: courtesy of Open Streets TO) Toronto has countless street festivals each year, and most of them are pretty much the same: midway games, Tiny Tom donuts, and a few local musical acts competing for attention with overpriced finger food from neighbourhood restaurants. Open Streets TO is proposing something a little different.

The group, a collaboration between councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, 8-80 Cities and other like-minded organizations, aims to stage a massive, multi-part festival along Bloor Street between High Park and Greenwood Avenue, as well as part of downtown Yonge Street. The plan, which has yet to gain city approval, calls for that entire stretch of road to be closed to auto traffic (though north- and southbound cars would still be allowed to cross Bloor). The idea is for the festival to unfold over the course of several consecutive Sundays in July and August. The focus would be more on physical activity (i.e. cycling, running, yoga) than on food and games. The Open Streets TO concept is modeled on the notion of a “ciclovía”—a style of recurring street closure that originated in South America, and that has since been adopted in cities like New York, apparently without inducing mass road rage. Toronto’s own Kensington Market has been doing something similar for years. Even so, car issues are sensitive in Toronto, and closing 10 kilometres of a major thoroughfare is bound to be controversial. The Open Streets Toronto plan will need city council’s approval before it can go forward. BlogTO reports that the event’s organizers already have $180,000 in provincial funding lined up.

by Steve Kupferman

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