Over the last two years, downtown city councillor Krystin Wong-Tam has been working with retailers, property owners, the mayor’s office and residents to turn our city’s main street into a popular summertime destination. From all reports, people love it.
“The real success story of Celebrate Yonge is not just about the change on the street,” she says. “It’s been a tremendous community-building and city-building exercise. I knew the aesthetics of the street had to change, but something else wonderful has come out of it. A community has come together.”
A miniature Urban Wood created by ING Bank <PHOTO OPPOSITE – Craig White/http://urbantoronto.ca>, streetside patios, groupings of colourful Muskoka chairs, entertainment, decorated bicycles – shows what imagination and a small cash outlay can do for Yonge Street, TORONTO’s main drag. Best of all, two lanes of car traffic have been replaced by patios and sitting-out spaces.
Now that Councillor Wong-Tam has businesses and residents on side, why not make this into a permanent transformation project? The big question: can she sell the idea to our SUV-lovin’ mayor, Rob Ford?
For her part, Wong-Tam seems pretty confident that she can. She’s kept Ford informed “every step of the way”. She says he’s offered his support as long as it’s what businesses in the area want. ‘Celebrate Yonge’ continues until September 16.
<PHOTOS BELOW – Canada’s tallest condo and the rebuilding of Ryerson University’s campus; Elm Street Victorians; Yonge-Dundas Square and red tour buses; the double-decker Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres open for tours, etc.>