Yonge Street is one of Toronto's oldest streets, it is the city's dividing line, a bridge connecting a variety of neighbourhoods and, of course, a major thoroughfare, at one time claimed as the longest street in the world. In keeping with its local stature, several revitalization and construction projects focused on the helping the street live up to its full potential are underway. One of these projects, 'Reimagining Yonge', focuses on the stretch between Sheppard and Finch through North York's City Centre area. This northern section of the street may not be what enters most Torontonians' minds when they first think of the street, but the project is hoping to make this section of Yonge a vibrant, multi-use space worthy of the street's centrality.

Study area for Reimagining Yonge, courtesy of the City of Toronto

North York City Centre is one of four centres across Toronto in our Official Plan which area targeted to realize provincial growth objectives where new jobs, housing, and services will be concentrated. The Reimagining Yonge Plan focuses on implementing a vision for a transit-oriented, mixed-use transformation of the street that this part of North York is undergoing because of new development in the area. Major areas the plan aims to improve include inconsistent exiting urban design features like sidewalks, crossings, medians, and the lack of dedicated cycling facilities. In its current iteration, Reimagining Yonge is still a study rather than a finalized plan, being carried out under Schedule 'C' of the Municipal Class Environmental Assesment (EA). Several steps are required before any changes are implemented, including: exploring a variety of concept designs, preparing an Environmental Study Report, summarizing the rationale, and a detailed design process for the project with public feedback opportunities. 

Presentation Board showing the progress of the project, image by Salena Barry

Last week, the project's coordinators hosted a public open house at North York Civic Centre presenting their preliminary ideas for the area's residents to view and comment on. Members of the City's Environmental Assessment team along with Urban Planners circled Memorial Hall handing out comments sheets and taking questions from attendees. Although two community charettes will be held on June 9 and June 11 at Spring Garden Church and Yonge Anglican Church respectively, there was an opportunity to provide feedback on ideas at this point. In the interim, residents and other interested parties can fill out a survey on the Reimagining Yonge website. Attendees were encouraged to provide their thoughts on a variety of suggestions by placing sticky notes on the presentation boards boards, indicating with stickers ideas that they support. 

Attendees placing comments on one of the display boards, image by Salena Barry

Display Board with comments, image by Salena Barry

Although much is to be done before any tangible changes are made in the area, the enthusiasm of the area's residents provides a good sign that reaching a consensus, or at least broadening the scope of ideas amenable to residents, is well underway. The event was held from 5 to 8 PM on a Wednesday evening and despite the mid-week dinnertime scheduling, the room was filled even in the event's final hour. If this pattern continues at the community charettes and another Public Open House on July 25, Yonge Street North should be reimagined sooner rather than later.

We will continue to update you on this story as more progress is made with community consultations and the development of the plans to revitalize the area.