WATCH ABOVE: Toronto’s mayor plans to meet with the city’s event organizers to keep streets from being shut down regularly. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – Mayor John Tory plans to meet with the city’s event organizers to prevent repeated road closures on the same streets throughout the year.
Complaints from residents, including church ministers, have prompted Tory to try to find a solution for gridlock on main arteries as a result of them being blocked off.
“I want those events to continue, every single one of them and I want to have more,” said Tory Friday. “But we just can’t continue on the basis that every one of them thinks that they can have their event on a Sunday in the same part of town in the same month of the year.”
Tory said he wants to see organizers being a little more flexible and agreeing to holding their events in the fall, on alternate days of the week, or less busy parts of the city.
“We can’t sustain the way things have been going,” said Tory.
The topic is on the minds of many as the number of running events and festivals ramp up through the summer months, including the addition of this year’s Pan Am Games.
Tory told a morning radio talk show that he is considering giving event organizers a break on fees imposed by the city if they would be willing to find new locations.
So far this year, a numbers of events have already shut down Yonge St. on Sundays.
City Counc. Kristyn Wong-Tam said she has heard from a number of event organizers who are keen to have better coordination for the road closures necessary for their events.
“They’re often left scrambling, year after year, whether or not they’re going to get their permits,” said Wong-Tam. “They want to know what other organizers are doing, they want to make sure they’re still welcome in the community.”
She said she welcomes the events to her ward, and wants to see a better system in place to keep residents and event organizers happy.
“I can’t imagine a single organizer not interested in being at the table working with the mayor, working with all the invested stakeholders to make sure the events are successful and are safe for the community.”
It’s also been a priority for Tory to better coordinate road closures and construction to try to avoid traffic problems as well.
The World Partnership Walk will be taking place this Sunday and involve partial and full closures at different times along King Street West and Simcoe Street.
When asked about movie productions shutting down city streets, Tory said the economic activity the massive productions bring to the city and province outweighs inconvenience, within reason.
“We have to achieve a balance, and make sure that there aren’t things done that are completely inconsiderate of the rest of the city having to get around,” said Tory.