Changes are coming to Toronto's Kensington Market but not everyone is on board

Apr 20 2023, 4:39 pm

The City of Toronto is seeking public feedback on its Kensington Safe Streets plan to improve pedestrian and cycling conditions in the Kensington Market neighbourhood.

But not everyone is on board with the city’s plan, with critics suggesting it falls short in creating a safe environment for foot and cycle traffic by maintaining car traffic in the popular shopping and dining area.

kensington safe streets toronto

City of Toronto

The City intends to overhaul stretches of Augusta Avenue, Baldwin Street, Kensington Avenue and St. Andrew Street by creating three types of zones; slow street, shared street, and pedestrian-only zones.

kensington safe streets toronto

City of Toronto

Slow street zones will separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic and maintain parking and pick-up/drop-off areas. Shared street zones will only permit driving for laneway access and will restrict all vehicles from stopping and parking on-street. Pedestrian-only zones, as the name implies, will be entirely car-free.

However, throughout the project’s planning, there have been calls to go all-in on the car-free zones, criticizing the city for insisting on including vehicle traffic in its vision for — in the city’s own words — “safe streets.”

A flood of comments responding to the City’s announcement of public engagement offer precisely that, calling out the safe streets plan for failing to live up to its name.

“It’s like, they make proposals then do a shitload of research when we all just know that it should be shut down to cars,” reads one comment. “Just do it, just do the thing. Why does nobody just do the thing anymore.”

The project has faced similar criticism from the general public, as well as prominent names in the Toronto planning and politics sphere, like columnist and political expert Matt Elliott.

In 2021, Elliot noted on Twitter that “these proposed new street designs for Kensington Market sure seem to put a lot of emphasis on maintaining on-street parking, despite survey results suggesting a lot of people don’t think there should be an emphasis on maintaining on-street parking.”

Jack LandauJack Landau

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