Update (March 20, 2017)
The City of Toronto continues work on a project to transform Yonge Street between Sheppard and Finch Avenues. Re-imagining Yonge would create wider boulevards for pedestrians and cafes, separated bike lanes and a reduction in lanes of traffic.
This plan, which would provide a much more interesting and people-friendly streetscape for the local community and area businesses, has been endorsed by the large number of local residents who participated in the various community consultation sessions. It has the support of Toronto’s Chief Planner, other senior city staff, and a large number of leaders and members of the environmental, cycling, pedestrian and city-building communities. John sees it as much-needed action to provide a character and connective tissue to what is otherwise just a collection of high-rises.
Much of the costs of the project will go towards the long-overdue reconstruction of Yonge Street itself and sidewalks in the area. Large areas of both are currently in extremely poor repair.
This year’s capital budget contained money for detailed design work, including $2 million in federal infrastructure funding. But an unexpected motion at Council sidelined the funding before the project could even be considered by Council. I’m hoping all that can be corrected at the April 12 Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and at the subsequent meeting of City Council meeting.
For those who wish to support the project, to learn more about it, or to comment on it, I have organized a community meeting on Wednesday, April 5 at 7 PM in the Council Chamber at the North York Civic Centre (5100 Yonge). I hope you will consider participating to learn more about this important project.
Meanwhile work to complete the Environmental Assessment continues and is nearing completion. Over the next six weeks residents may notice drilling rigs on Yonge street collecting samples of soil, asphalt and underground conditions. Some minor lane reductions may be necessary during off peak hours.
Update (February 20, 2016)
Re-imagining Yonge hit a roadblock last week in the form of an unexpected motion as it worked through the City’s budget process.
John is working towards getting the project back on track and will soon be hosting a community meeting to update residents.
Update (September 15, 2016)
Update (June 15, 2016)
John has been pleased with the many conversations with residents through the City’s open house on May 25. The City will be taking back the feedback they have received at the open house and at design charrettes on June 9 and June 11.
Residents are invited to attend the next public Open House on Monday, July 25 from 5 PM to 8 PM at North York Memorial Hall (5110 Yonge Street). More information can also be found on the project’s website.
Update (May 18, 2016) – City Launches REimagining Yonge Street
The City has launched its consultation process titled “REimagining Yonge Street.” Through this process the City of Toronto will evaluate opportunities to improve the streetscape and public realm for all users (pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles) along Yonge Street from Sheppard Avenue to the Finch Hydro Corridor. John believes that a significant investment from the City in this area can help create a more unifying hub in the centre of our community.
The first information night is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 as a drop in from 5 PM to 8 PM at North York Memorial Hall (5110 Yonge Street). If you are unable to attend this Open House, you can still submit comments via email, mail, or phone until June 8, 2016 through the City’s project website.
Original Post (April 2016)
High density population hubs usually contain vibrant pedestrian environments featuring attractive streetscapes, great restaurants, an array of culture, and attractive retail stores. At the moment, apart from the subway system, the North York Centre has few of the positive traits normally associated with a large, concentrated, relatively-affluent population.
Traditionally, Yonge Street has acted as a large concrete divide between communities. We’d like to transform it into a focal point which brings neighbourhoods together. The street already has several landmarks which do that, such as Mel Lastman Square, the Rose Garden, Toronto Centre for the Arts, the North York Central Library, Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre and soon-to-be-added features including a St. Lawrence Market-style Marketplace on the west side of Yonge north of Park Home Ave. and an amazing Family Resource Centre in the Sheppard Centre.
Responding to John’s repeated requests, the City has begun studying how to make the North York Centre a more vibrant and appealing area both for residents and for business. We are looking at rebuilding and widening sidewalks, creating bike lanes, beautifying the streetscape and allowing more opportunities for outdoor cafes and other retail improvements.
This analysis, which involves several city departments, is being co-ordinated through the office of the Deputy City Manager. An Environmental Assessment, through which alternative designs are examined, has begun with a first community information night scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, May 25 (5-8 PM) at North York Memorial Hall (5110 Yonge Street). Detailed plans should be in place by sometime next year, with construction to begin in 2018.
John looks forward to hearing your thoughts as materials are presented.