Transformation of Toronto's Main Drag Gives City Reason to Celebrate

The wild success of a "pop-up urban intervention” transforming Toronto's Yonge Street has Christopher Hume and the city's residents excited about the ability of small moves to have a big impact.
August 21, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Despite recent reports of city leaders questioning the appropriateness of raising a family downtown, trying to trash an award-winning waterfront plan, and bickering over transit plans, not all of the urban news out of Toronto is doom and gloom.

Thanks to a project spearheaded by the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association that has replaced traffic lanes with outdoor patios, planter gardens and seating areas, "Yonge is basking in the sudden love of a city excitedly rediscovering itself," observes Hume. "From Gerrard south to Queen, the street has been transformed into boulevard where people sit, eat, drink, stop, look, walk, talk and generally carry on like inhabitants of a big city."

"On Yonge, a few tables, chairs and planters completely alter our response. These few items have the power to transform an otherwise inhospitable expanse of the public realm into a more human space, one we actually want to use and can."

To Hume, the message is clear: "Streets have much better uses than driving on them."

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Published on Sunday, August 19, 2012 in Toronto Star
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