Two major Toronto streets will be handed over to pedestrians on a pair of Sunday mornings next month.
On August 17 and again on August 31, Bloor St will be out-of -bounds to cars from Spadina St to Parliament. Yonge St will also be blocked off between Bloor St and Queen St. The barricades will be up between 8 am and noon.
The city of Toronto has not yet explained exactly what measures it will take to mitigate the closures. Cars are expected to be able to pass through some intersections, though it is not clear which ones. There will also be a subway shutdown on August 17 on the Yonge-University-Spadina Line between St. Andrew and Union Stations.
Being championed in Toronto by councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, the Open Streets Project has had runs in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Open Streets TO says they are "focused on promoting physical activity and exploring our city in healthy and fun ways."
Local businesses are expected to stretch onto the sidewalks and beyond. The plan is for Torontonians to roll out yoga mats, take part in dance classes or kick around a soccer ball on the car-free streets.
Mayor Rob Ford came out against the Open Streets Project in the spring, predicting it would cause traffic "chaos".
The footprint of the pilot project has shrunk. Organizers wanted to block off a 9 km stretch of Bloor St, from High Park in the west, to Logan Ave in Greektown in the east. Now, a 3 km span in the downtown core will be shut down. The initial plan would have seen 4 km of Yonge St blocked, all the way to Queen's Quay. The re-jigged shutdown will close 2 km of Yonge.