Streets are a vital part of Toronto’s public open space system. They function as movement corridors for pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles, as well as support many social and business activities. The appearance and character of Toronto streets play a large part in determining the overall quality and liveability of the city.

The Streetscape Manual is an urban design reference tool for the improvement of the City’s arterial street network – the Main Streets and Green Streets that define and connect neighbourhoods. The Manual focuses on design quality in the public right-of-way, with an emphasis on coherence, beauty, durability, accessibility, pedestrian amenity and tree canopy. Following a hierarchy of streetscape types, the Manual assigns a set of standard or specialized design treatments to each arterial road. Although the Manual does not typically include collector roads, local roads or laneways, design quality and tree canopy on these streets is also very important.

The design treatments specified in the Manual centre on five streetscape elements – paving, street trees, medians, lighting and street furniture. When applied over time, these design treatments will enhance the appearance, health and enjoyment of the urban landscape.

Arriving at a final streetscape design relies on a comprehensive decision-making process that takes the following into consideration: