Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Yonge Love: Our BIA's Plan for Change

We’re really lucky to live in such a great community. Yonge Street is what some people call the artery of Toronto, and our friends at the Downtown Yonge BIA have made it their mission to make this 'artery' one of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto. In 2014, our BIA was promoting the Yonge Love campaign which called upon people in our neighbourhood to share what living on Yonge means to them and what they’d like to see from it in the future. Now, the results are in!

The City of Toronto launched a revitalization initiative in 2013 which was set to help shape Yonge Street into a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. With over 500,000 people working, 110,000 people studying, and over 175,000 people living there, it was obviously that it needed the proper attention. That's where the Downtown Yonge BIA got the idea for Yonge Love.

Yonge Love received thousands of engagements over the course of seven months, all of which collected opinions on what Yonge Street should be and what one big change it should see. From all the information that was collected, the BIA created a 5-point action plan for creating the Yonge Street of the future, and we're behind it 100%:

  1. Make Downtown Yonge a highly walkable neighbourhood.
    This means widening streets and decreasing the number of car lanes. Adding more seating, benches, and trees will make it a place people want to spend time in and use as more of a public space.
  2. Make Yonge Street a truly flexible street.
    This goes hand-in-hand with making in walkable - they want to make certain sections entirely pedestrian-friendly. This also includes prioritizing flexibility in access water, hydro, and public spaces, as well as operational maintenance.
  3. Make Yonge Street a truly complete street.
    Form, design, quality: the adjectives that describe a better community. This includes installing more bike lanes, bike parking, and making the neighbourhood more accessible in general.
  4. Make Downtown Yonge an always-vibrant neighbourhood.
    Further expand the arts and culture scene and make use of valuable public space. Encourage a diverse retail landscape, support local businesses, appreciate heritage buildings.
  5. Make Downtown Yonge a truly inclusive neighbourhood.
    Show and provide support for all the different people in the neighbourhood. Focus on making the streets safe, combat homelessness, host more community and charity events, and advocate for mixed-income housing options to be developed.

With so much focus being put on improving Downtown Yonge by both the BIA and the City of Toronto, we’re excited to see that the next 5 or 10 years hold for our neighbourhood. If you want to learn more about the Yonge Love campaign, you can look at their full report here.