Toronto

Torontonians want a more pedestrian-friendly Yonge Street, report says

Last year, the city announced a revitalization initiative along Yonge Street so the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association (DYBIA) launched Yonge Love, an “unconventional, creative approach to community consultation.”

Business association solicited suggestions on how to make Yonge shine

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam says the city will redesign Yonge Street "to reflect everything you have told us you want in the street." The results of a report which solicited suggestions on how to improve the iconic street was made public Wednesday. (CBC)

The people have spoken and they want a more walkable Yonge Street, according to an organization representing businesses on the world's longest thoroughfare.

After the city announced a revitalization initiative along Yonge Street last year, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association (DYBIA) launched Yonge Love, an "unconventional, creative approach to community consultation."

It solicited suggestions on social media and says the response was overwhelming.

In a report issued Wednesday, the DYBIA said people want walkable neighbourhoods that connect them, events and festivals along Yonge, independent stores and green space.

"We are going to be redesigning Yonge Street to reflect everything you have told us you want in the street," said Kristyn Wong-Tam, the city councillor for the area.

The DYBIA says "Yonge Love's Facebook efforts reached 494,690 users, creating 77,642 actions, which include likes, shares, comments, photo views, video views and clicks to yongelove.ca." As well, the #YongeLove Instagram contest invited Torontonians to share their unique experiences, perspectives and stories of downtown Yonge.

The association says software was developed to gather the images in real time and display them at yongelove.ca.

The result, it said, was "a beautiful collective portrait of Yonge Street, made up of 641 images shared by 239 photographers."

DYBIA executive director Mark Garner says "42 million people walk on Yonge Street, north and south, and that number is only on the increase."

His association is considering a proposal to reduce the number of lanes from four to two.

"One lane north, one lane south and then the extra lane that's currently there now would be pedestrian space," Garner said. "It'd be sidewalks and patio space to open up the street."

Another option would be to close part of the street to cars, as the city does for the Open Streets Toronto festival.

"Would you not come down here if Yonge Street was only pedestrian and there was music and festivals and events going on?" Garner asked.

Forever Yonge: A free panel discussion on the city's central street, happens Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at The Arts and Letters Club, 14 Elm Street.

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