TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford slammed a plan to close parts of Yonge Street and Bloor Street for two Sundays in August in order to make it a pedestrian-friendly zone.
Open Streets Toronto will make Bloor Street (between Spadina Avenue to Parliament Street) and Yonge Street (between Bloor Street to Queen Steet) car-free from 8 a.m to noon on August 17 and 31.
The inaugural Toronto event, mirrored off similar initiatives in Los Angeles, Paris, and New York, aims to promote physical activity and neighborhood connectivity.
But Ford voiced his displeasure on twitter Friday afternoon saying roads were meant for cars.
But his comments were quickly met with hostility.
“Mayor Ford likes to criticize a lot of things. He’s not necessarily a builder of programs,” said Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
“If he has a problem with us being on the road for four hours on a Sunday morning, I can’t imagine what he’ll have to say about Taste of the Danforth which occupies the road for three days,” she continued.
The City of Toronto’s Transportation Services department, which recently approved the initiative, downplayed the impact on traffic.
“On a Sunday morning, you would typically see 10 to 20 per cent of the volume you would see during a normal weekday,” Steve Buckley, the city’s general manager of transportation said.
The initial proposal called for the closure of an 11 kilometre route for four Sundays but was scaled back to five kilometres and two Sundays as a result of construction that could impede the activities of pedestrians, according to Councillor Wong-Tam.
Even though cars will not be able to drive along the affected parts of Yonge and Bloor, vehicles will be able to pass through crossing points along the major intersections.