The final designs for Dundas Place, London's first 'flex street', were unveiled Wednesday at the Central Library.
The two-year, $16-million project will see four blocks of Dundas Street — from Ridout Street to Wellington Road — transformed. The aim is to shift Dundas from a gritty commercial corridor into Dundas Place, a new streetscape with no curbs or gutters that city officials say will be a "people space" that will look like no other street in the city.
Doug MacRae, the manager of transporation planning and design for the City of London, said Wednesday the city's first "flex street" aims to balance the needs of everyone who uses it.
MacRae said the design of Dundas Place borrows from great cities around the world, such as New York, Copenhagen, Montreal, all of which have streetscapes where pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles mix.
"We've really taken the lessons learned from a variety of other projects," he said. "There's a balance of needs here, that's why we're not closing the street to vehicles."
MacCrae notes however, that the revamped streetscape is designed to be closed to vehicles for special events, something he said people in the city will become used to as more and more cultural events are hosted in London's downtown core.
"The beauty is that it will be able to adapt to future needs," MacRae said. "It will be able to become a canvas any kind event, street hockey, performance art, vendor markets, anything really."
"Dundas Street is the cultural heart of London, where impressions are made that really reflects on the whole city," he said, noting that the revamped streetscape isn't just about cosmetics.
"It's required regardless," he said. "A lot of this project investment is to replace watermains, street signals that are really at the end of their lives."
As part of that, the city is teaming up with utility companies, such as Rogers and Bell, who will take advantage of the construction period in order to upgrade much of their infrastructure, while the city is busy replacing water mains, sewer lines and much of the guts of the downtown core along Dundas.
"This project really aims to benefit the neighbourhood and build on the bones that are already there," MacRae said.
"Dundas Street already has a lot of great restaurants and businesses. We want to build on that and make it a place that all Londoners want to come."