(Click here to download the study)
In January 2011 Councillor Wong-Tam began the to respond to the slow decline of the character and vibrancy of Yonge Street. In particular, the destruction of the Empress Hotel served as a catalyst for exploring new strategies for preserving one of the most iconic streets in Canada. The Councillor responded to requests from the local community by working collaboratively to establish guidelines on how to preserve heritage and ongoing pressures of intensification and density in the area. Marianne McKenna from KPMB Architects and Ken Greenberg from Greenberg Consultants are the lead consultants on the study and the authors of the preliminary report.
From the beginning, consultations with stakeholders in the area were pertinent to the success of the study. Several months of stakeholder meetings with local business owners, property owners and institutions, specifically Ryerson University and the Yonge Street Mission led to an understanding what needs to be preserved and what needs to change in the area. The area serves as a prime retail destination, a magnet for live entertainment, multi-media outlet and outdoor pedestrian mall.
The Yonge Street Planning Study in its current form is a reflection of stakeholder’s priorities for the area. The study makes several recommendations on the preservation of current built form and recommendations on how to respond to intensification and growth in the area. These recommendations include:
• Transforming the streets to encourage pedestrianization and boost local retail activities
• Expanding access to the subway – a Ryerson station at Gould
• Expanding and improving the fine-grained pedestrian network surrounding Yonge Street
• Preservation of heritage and character of Yonge Street
• Built form height restrictions for mid-block portions from Dundas Street and Gerrard Street
• Tighter restrictions on signage heights and placements
• Encouraging mixed-use at grade retail along Yonge Street
• Encouraging markets, street-vendors and entertainment
The Councillor is seeking feedback from the community and she is encouraging discussion on the recommendations proposed in the Yonge Street Planning Study. An ongoing dialogue on how to improve Yonge Street will ensure that we are working collaboratively to protect the rich legacy and collective memory of an iconic street that belongs to everyone.