Changes are coming to Toronto's Kensington Market but not everyone is on board
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.
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.
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.
The City is proposing changes to the design of several streets in Kensington Market, including Augusta St, Kensington Ave, St. Andrew St, and sections of Baldwin St and Nassau St, with the goal of improving safety and making the area more pedestrian-friendly. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/e1ddRiT694
— Toronto Cycling and Pedestrian Projects (@TO_Cycling_Ped) April 19, 2023
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.”
Why are cars allowed everywhere in Kensington Market? Streets like Augusta and Kensington should be pedestrian and cyclist only. That’s what a great city would do.
— Late stage capitalism hater (@sarahrimmington) April 19, 2023
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.
Want pedestrian friendly and safe? Have limited access by car, mostly for delivery, and ban cars from 90% of KM
— Joe LaFortune (@joe_lafortune) April 19, 2023
“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.”
Just make them car free except for residents…
— George Bell (@georgebell) April 20, 2023
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.”