Open Streets TO closes some major roads Sunday

Pedestrians will own the streets Sunday in Toronto as the Open Streets TO pilot program begins.

Mayor Rob Ford opposes closures

On Sunday morning pedestrians will rule some major roadways as the Open Streets pilot program promoting physical activities begins.

The program will take place on two Sundays, Aug. 17 and Aug. 31. About five kilometres of Toronto’s downtown core will be closed to all vehicular traffic and will, instead, welcome pedestrians from 8 a.m. to noon.

What will be closed:

  • Bloor Street between Parliament Street and Spadina Avenue.
  • Yonge Street between Bloor and Queen streets
  • Major intersections will have crossing points where cars can pass through.

“It’s really magical,” said Emily Munroe with Open Streets TO. “I’ve seen these programs all over the world and people are walking and biking and out with their strollers, they are rollerblading.”

Organizers said that other major cities like New York, L.A., Paris and Mexico City have already taken part.

Despite a lack of parking, organizers are assuring local business that business will get a boost from increased foot traffic. 

But some have said that the event will only further bungle the issue of gridlock in the city at a time rife with construction projects.

Mayor Rob Ford has been a very vocal opponent to such closures for festivals and marathons over the years and said he would not support Open Streets TO because he saw no benefits to closing major roads to vehicular traffic.

“People are going to get very upset when they find out the streets are closed just to walk on street we weren’t meant to walk on,” Ford said. “They’re made for cars and buses and bicycles.”

Ford said he wants to know how permits to close the city's two main traffic arteries, even for only a few hours, were approved without a vote at council.

As for the price tag associated with the event, organizers said they will announce some major sponsors in the coming weeks that will cover the police duty paid to ensure safety at the event.