Yonge Street is iconic. The street plays a significant role in the cultural and economic identity of Toronto and forms the spine of the city’s transportation network. Dramatic growth is changing the character of built form along the street and the needs of its users, placing increased demands on aging infrastructure.

We have an opportunity to re-examine how Yonge Street can best respond to our diverse and changing city. This presents the opportunity to elevate Yonge Street’s physical form and the experience it brings to its users to reflect the significance it holds in both the city’s landscape and in our minds.

Learn why Design Concept 4c was chosen as the Recommended Design Concept.

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The Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) is a planning process under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act. It provides the framework for municipalities to plan, design and construct infrastructure projects. YongeTOmorrow is following the process for a Schedule ‘C’ Class EA.

Study area boundaries are Roxborough Street West, Mount Pleasant Road/Jarvis Street, King Street and University Avenue. Phase 1 boundaries are College/Carlton Street, Church Street, Queen Street and Bay Street. Phase 2 boundaries are Davenport Avenue, College Street, Church Street and Bay Street.
Study area boundaries are Roxborough Street West, Mount Pleasant Road/Jarvis Street, King Street and University Avenue. Phase 1 boundaries are College/Carlton Street, Church Street, Queen Street and Bay Street. Phase 2 boundaries are Davenport Avenue, College Street, Church Street and Bay Street.

Changes in Downtown Toronto

  • State of Good Repair: Yonge Street must undergo construction soon to replace the 100-year-old watermain beneath the roadway.
  • Growth: The current population and employment in the downtown core are expected to double by 2031.
  • Mode Share: 50–75% of people using Yonge Street are pedestrians.
  • Equity: There is a need to provide better experiences for all who walk, roll, cycle and take transit and provide more public space for downtown residents.
  • Mode Shift: More people are choosing to walk and cycle. Since 1996, the number of pedestrians has doubled.
  • City Policy: The Official Plan identifies Yonge Street as a Priority Retail Street and Cultural Corridor that should be improved for people walking.

Conditions on Yonge Street

  • Pedestrian volumes, City policy and public feedback all indicate that pedestrians should come first on Yonge Street.
  • The sidewalks on Yonge Street have daily volumes that exceed 100,000 pedestrians per day.
  • Pedestrian movement is slowed due to crowding especially near Yonge-Dundas Square.
  • Less than 25% of the right-of-way space is dedicated to pedestrian movement, yet 50–75% of people using the street are pedestrians.
50-75% of people using Yonge Street are pedestrians (8-hour intersection counts).
50–75% of people using Yonge Street are pedestrians (eight-hour intersection counts).
Date Event Activity
May 2019 Public Event #1 Long List of Street Design Options & Evaluation Criteria: 15 possible cross sections and a set of evaluation criteria were developed. There were three
consistent themes among
stakeholder priorities:

  • pedestrian experience
  • businesses and tourism
  • street flexibility
October 2019 Report to
Infrastructure
and Environment
Committee
Short List of Street Design
Options: Evaluation identified a Short List
of three cross sections:

  • Pedestrian Priority
  • One Way
  • Two Way

It was recommended cycling facilities be evaluated on Bay Street, Church Street and University Avenue.

November 2019 Public Event #2 Short List of Alternative Solutions: Four Alternative Solutions were developed by applying one of the three cross sections to each block of Yonge Street. Alternative 4 with cycling facilities on University Avenue was identified as the preliminary preferred.

Pedestrian Experience

  • The pedestrian experience remains the top priority.
  • Pedestrian priority zones were generally supported,  withconsideration for expansion.
  • Safety is a priority for all users.

Cycling Experience

  • Increased consideration for cyclists on Yonge Street.
  • University Avenue cycling facility may be
    inconvenient for some to access from the east and north.

Vehicle Access

  • Increased consideration for goods movement, ride hail and business access.

Space for Patios and Street Retail

  • Dedicated space for patios and street retail will contribute to economic vibrancy, street activation and safety.

Support Festivals and Events

  • Consider a phased or temporary approach to pedestrian priority zones.

Key Comments (By Block)

Block Alternative 4 Online Approval Rating
(out of 5)
Key Comments
College Street to Gerrard Street Two-Way Traffic 2.92
  • Increase consideration for cyclists.
  • Maintain access for vehicles to allow residents to access their homes.
Gerrard Street to Elm Street Pedestrian Priority 3.72
  • Increase consideration for: accessibility, cycling, goods movement and curbside movement.
  • Increase consideration for conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
Elm Street to Dundas Square Pedestrian Priority 4.38 Increase consideration for: accessibility and cycling.
Dundas Square to Shuter Street One-Way Traffic Northbound 2.61 Increase consideration for: accessibility, cycling,
goods movement and curbside movement and transit.
Shuter Street to Queen Street Two-Way Traffic

Pedestrian Priority Zone

A pedestrian priority zone is an area dedicated to walking and cycling were motor vehicles are restricted during the daytime from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Dismounting Bikes

You don’t need to dismount your bike in a pedestrian priority zone. Cycling at safe speeds while yielding to pedestrians is encouraged in pedestrian priority zones.

Dedicated Pedestrian-Only Spaces

There would be 4 m wide traditional sidewalks next to the buildings on each side of pedestrian priority zones for pedestrians only. These sidewalk areas would be elevated from the pedestrian priority area by a rolled curb and tactile paving strip.

Buses on Yonge Street

The daytime bus route would be discontinued or rerouted. The night bus and subway replacement shuttle service would not be impacted.

Cars and Trucks Driving in the Pedestrian Priority Zones Overnight?

From 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. buses would share the road with cars and trucks.

East-West Streets

No east-west streets will be closed. Access is maintained across Yonge Street for all east-west streets and transit lines.

Parking or Accessing a Yonge Street Property

Access to all existing driveways, loading docks, laneways and parking garages have been maintained. You can also be dropped off within 50 metres of any front door on Yonge Street.

Local Access

Given Yonge Street would no longer provide a through route connection, only vehicles accessing a property on Yonge Street would choose to use the street which would lower traffic volumes.

Studies from the United Kingdom

  • Improving streets for walking can increase retail sales by up to 30 per cent.
  • Retail vacancies were 17 per cent lower after main street improvements.
  • Over a one month period, people who walk to retail streets spend up to 40 per cent more than people who drive.

Global Evidence

Studies in Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, California and Copenhagen, Denmark, also found that people who walk and cycle visit shops more often and spend more per month than drivers.

Times Square, New York, New York

In 2009, New York City closed Broadway from 42nd Street to 47th Street to vehicular traffic in Times Square to improve the experience for pedestrians.

Between 2007 and 2011 economic activity increased by 22 per cent (compared to a 9 per cent increase city-wide).

Large, empty roadway
Broadway, NY, after it was closed to vehicular traffic.
Lively streetscape, with people sitting on chairs under umbrellas.
Broadway, NY, after it was closed to vehicular traffic.

The Short List of Alternative Solutions were modelled and tested at a network level to compare performance.

Increase in Average Driving Delay in 2031

The graph compares how the Alternative Solutions perform in 2031 compared to the existing design of Yonge Street.

Alternative 1 had the lowest delay increases, but also provided the lowest level of improvement for people walking, biking and enjoying the street.

Alternative 2 and 3 provided greater levels of improvement for those using the street, but also had higher delays.

Alternative 4 provided significant improvements to the street experience and much lower delays than 2 or 3. The highest delays in Alternative 4 were less than 90 seconds.

Factors considered in the development of the Round Two traffic analysis:

Round Two feedback and modelling results confirmed Alternative 4 as the Preferred Alternative Solution. It best addressed the project objectives and the diversity of stakeholder priorities.

Feedback also indicated that more consideration was needed for:

  • cycling
  • loading, deliveries and ride hail

Alternative 4 has been developed into three Design Concepts. Design Concepts are different ways to implement and operate Alternative 4.

Date Event Activity
September 2020 Public Event #3
  • Confirm the Preferred Alternative:
    Alternative 4 is confirmed as the preferred Alternative Solution based on evaluation and feedback from Round Two.
  • Design Concepts: Alternative 4 is developed into three Design Concepts for detailed evaluation.
December 2020 Infrastructure and Environment
Committee
Confirm Recommended Design Concept: A staff report will recommend a Design Concept for City Council’s consideration
December 2020 Completion of Study Environmental Study Report
(ESR): An ESR will be submitted to the province with a 30-Day Public Review period.
Future Future Implementation Detailed Design and Construction

The Design Concepts are more detailed plans showing three different ways to design and operate Alternative 4.

The concepts divide Alternative 4 into smaller blocks to address feedback and provide more detail.

4a provides the most improvement to the pedestrian experience with pedestrian priority zones from Gerrard Street to Dundas Square.

  • Two-way local access between Elm Street and Gould Street to
    support goods movement.
  • Most turn restrictions and least turn lanes to prioritize people
    walking and cycling.
  • Least curbside activity areas and most space for cafés, seating and greening.

4b provides the most driving access and support for loading, deliveries and ride hailing.

  • Two-way local access from Gerrard Street to Walton Street and from Elm Street to Edward Street.
  • Least turn restrictions and most turn lanes to prioritize driving access.
  • Most curbside activity areas and least space for cafés, seating and greening.

4c balances the priorities of people walking, cycling and accessing local properties by car or truck.

  • One-way local access from Gerrard Street to Walton Street and from Elm Street to Edward Street.
  • Turning movements are more restricted than 4b, but more relaxed than 4a.
  • Space dedicated to curbside activity areas, cafés, seating and greening more balanced – less than 4a and more than 4b.
  • Cycle tracks from College Street to Gerrard Street to link to the existing network.