Open Streets


Project Objective

Support the foundation and growth of Open Streets Toronto, Toronto’s largest free recreation program.

Info / Share
  • Date: 2012 – Current
  • City: Toronto, Canada
  • Partners: Open Streets Toronto

Toronto is Canada’s largest municipality, with a population of almost 3 million, and a metropolitan region of 6 million people. Open Streets are free recreation based programs that temporarily open streets to people and close them to cars, allowing people to come out, walk, run, cycle, rollerblade and improve their health. Open Streets TO is a non-profit organization responsible for organizing and delivering Toronto’s open streets program.

Step 1 – Selling the Idea: In November of 2012, 8 80 Cities and a Toronto City Councillor launched an effort to found an open streets program in Toronto. 8 80 Cities provided support and data on the benefits of open streets programs, and advised on best practices for route planning, brand building, and grassroots engagement efforts. Open Streets TO was incorporated as a non-profit organization, with 8 80 Cities acting as an advising partner on financial practices and vision statements and goals.

Step 2 – Securing Funding: After gathering wide spread support for the creation of a new program, 8 80 Cities and Open Streets TO in late 2013 and early 2014 worked towards securing public and private sponsorship funds. 8 80 Cities collaborated with Open Streets TO on the creation of materials to help support this search and provided key data and details from open streets programs around the world to bolster Open Streets TO’s case.

Step 3 – Running the Program: The logistics of operating a recreation program as large and impactful as Open Streets are detailed and complex. 8 80 Cities worked with Open Streets TO on the development of a volunteer recruitment and training program for over 200 volunteers. 8 80 Cities also assisted in the development of notification materials, the design of Open Streets TO promotional materials and the day-of operations of the program. Open Streets TO had their inaugural program dates in the summer of 2014.

Step 4 – Evaluation and Growing the Program: Following the successful launch of Open Streets TO in August of 2014, 8 80 Cities continued to work with the program to gather data on program outcomes and help advocate and build support for continued program growth. As of 2016, Open Streets TO has doubled in size and in the number of participants. 8 80 Cities continues to partner with Open Streets TO on building the best free recreation program in Canada.

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