Open Streets TO puts people, not cars, on downtown roads

Portions of two major downtown streets were closed to traffic in Toronto on Sunday morning, as part of a special initiative that let residents enjoy that space instead.

Mayor Ford not supportive of shutting down major roads for event with 'no purpose'

'That's what parks are for'

8 years ago
Duration 1:07
Mayor Rob Ford reacts to the shutting down of Yonge and Bloor streets for Open Streets TO.

Organizers are pleased with how things turned out Sunday morning, when parts of Bloor and Yonge were closed to traffic, so that people could take a stroll down those busy downtown streets.

The initiative saw Bloor Street shut down to regular traffic between Spadina Avenue and Parliament Street, along with Yonge Street between Bloor and Queen streets, for four hours on Sunday.

Open Streets TO shut down portions of Bloor and Yonge streets to traffic on Sunday, so that people could enjoy the downtown roadways instead. The same thing will happen again on Aug. 31. (Stephane Blais/CBC)

"There's lots and lots of people out, people of all ages — kids, families, everybody out just enjoying the street,” said Emily Munroe, the co-chair of Open Streets TO, in a telephone interview with CBC News.

"A lot of people walking, a lot of people biking, running, roller-skating, all sorts of things. We're really, really happy with how it's gone."

Several mayoral contenders were making the rounds at Open Streets, including Olivia Chow and John Tory.

Chow told CBC News that she supports the Open Streets initiative and that she saw many children and families enjoying the day.

"It's about connecting with each other and when we connect, we build stronger communities and a better city," she said.

Tory said it was clear that those in attendance were having a good time, but he thinks the city should consider this a test run.

"I am cautious about closing down lanes of traffic, but I think this is a good way to see how this works," he said.

Down at Harbourfront, Mayor Rob Ford said he wasn't convinced of the event's merits.

"I didn't support it, there's no purpose to it," he told CBC News on Sunday. "They're closing down Yonge and Bloor street for what, to walk? That's what parks are for. To do yoga? That's what parks are for."

Open Streets TO will shut down the same streets two Sundays from now, on Aug. 31, also from 8 a.m. to noon.

With a report from the CBC's Neil Herland and Linda Ward