Canada's largest free recreation program, connecting Toronto's communities via stretches of iconic Bloor and Yonge Streets, features its deepest programming to date
TORONTO, Aug. 14, 2018 /CNW/ - Open Streets TO today announced its most expansive programming lineup to date, solidifying its position as the largest free recreation program in Canada. Program routes for 2018 are as follows:
August 19, 2018 and September 16, 2018 (10:00 am to 2:00 pm):Bloor Street (East/West from Montrose Avenue – just west of Christie Street – to Sherbourne Street); Yonge Street (North/South from Bloor Street to Queen Street).
On both dates, people traffic will replace car traffic, as the streets become "paved parks" where people of all ages, abilities, and social, economic and ethnic backgrounds can get active and connect with their community and each other.
As the City of Toronto continues to develop its 20-year Parkland Strategy, this year's program will lay sod – some 5,000 square feet of grass – just east of the Yonge and Bloor intersection, a connective city symbol. By "parkifying" the de facto heart of the city, Open Streets TO and the City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division will create an urban oasis in stark "green" contrast to the realities of Toronto's downtown core. Highlights of this "pop up park", a first of its kind, include free unstructured play areas, a lululemon-led yoga class, Muskoka chairs, park benches, two-metre tall trees, flower pots, tents, park signs and a play area.
The August 19 program date will also showcase many diverse forms of cultural dance. The dedicated space, at Yonge and Bloor, will feature dance performances and mini lessons throughout the day from groups representing Peruvian, Azerbaijani and Filipino communities as well as Brazilian Capoeira and Bon Odori (Japanese folk dance).
"Open Streets is about getting out, being active and connecting people in the city without the barriers and stresses created by vehicle traffic," said David Simor, Open Streets TO. "We are ecstatic to be back for our fifth year, offering Torontonians a chance to experience our beloved city in ways they never could before. We are excited to appeal to participants young and old and to bring together Toronto's diverse neighbourhoods in a celebration of physical activity and unity."
"Open Streets is all about building vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities", said Mitch Gascoyne, Vice President, Development, CentreCourt. "These are the values that drive us at CentreCourt and we are excited to be part of the Open Streets magic."
The deeper programming lineup acknowledges the interest of attendees, 97 per cent of whom said in a Ryerson University survey that they supported the expansion of the Open Streets concept. In addition, 85 per cent of those surveyed agreed that Open Streets strengthens the community and 75 per cent said that it improved their perception of Toronto – both core objectives of the program. In terms of physical activity, 62 per cent of respondents said they would not have been engaged in active recreation had it not been for Open Streets TO.
"Iconic cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Mexico City all promote a variety of the Open Streets concept," said Toronto City Councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam. "I am proud that Toronto put itself on this map of great cities in 2014 by creating our own distinct program and am looking forward to this summer's exciting program."
As in previous years, Activity Hubs will be set up by local businesses and community organizations along the route, showcasing the character of each neighbourhood in authentic ways. No outside vendors are permitted, underpinning the neighbourhood feel of the program. All activities and classes along the route will be entirely free, ensuring all city residents are able to participate and have a place at Open Streets TO.
Some exciting highlights to this year's Activity Hubs will include Live Green, Toronto Animal Services, Bike Share Toronto and Lululemon, among others.
Open Streets TO could not happen without the generous support of our presenting sponsor, CentreCourt, as well as significant contributions from the City of Toronto, Downtown Yonge BIA, 8 80 Cities, Bennett Jones and lululemon.