Gil Penalosa to Expand Open Streets with recreation programs for all ages and abilities.
Toronto – At the annual OpenStreetsTO program, Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa will announce his ‘Streets for Everyone’ plan to create a program every Sunday from Victoria Day to Labour Day that combines the best of Open Streets, ActiveTO, Salasa on St. Clair, and other physically active festivals. To announce the program, Penalosa will be joined by current MPP and former Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam for a bike ride starting at Bloor and Christie at 10 am. Penalosa and Wong-Tam will also be available to speak with media at 12 pm at Yonge and Bloor. The pair co-lead the initiation of the OpenStreetsTO program in Toronto ten years ago alongside Sports Focused Consulting and Events.
Streets for Everyone would provide new recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities on Yonge Street, from Lawrence Ave. to the waterfront, and on Bloor Street, from the Humber to the Don Rivers, on summer Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm.
“Opening our streets allows all Torontonians to be active and meet their friends that they have not met, doing multiple activities, walking, pushing a stroller, in a wheelchair, or on a bike,” said Penalosa. “Removing traffic for even a few hours provides an opportunity for us to reimagine how we can activate public space for everyone, to build community and have healthier lifestyles. Streets are public spaces: they belong to everyone, and they can have different uses according to the time of day, the day of the week, and the season.”
Said Penalosa, “it’s about the benefits, not just to our physical and mental health, but to the environment, mobility, and more. It’s about social integration, and about meeting each other as equals. Streets for Everyone will connect Torontonians of all ages, genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and identities. Through Streets for Everyone, Toronto — the most multicultural city in the world — can also be the most integrated. One Toronto.”
“Streets for Everyone is also about Toronto’s local economic development: about making Toronto’s iconic neighbourhoods more accessible to residents from across the City, and bringing unparalleled foot traffic into local business.”
In addition to expanding boundaries and the number of days, Streets for Everyone will act as a showcase for the City’s recreation programs. Every Sunday, instructors will get out of community centres and provide free dance, aerobics, and yoga classes on the street. City staff will also be on hand to help residents register in person for upcoming recreation programs. BikeShareTO Bikes will be made free on Streets for Everyone Sundays.
The Streets for Everyone plan follows the lead of Ottawa, which has opened roads for active transportation every Sunday since 1970. The National Capital Commission’s program now attracts hundreds of thousands of Ottawa residents and tourists who tour the city on 20 km of connected streets, May to October. Other Canadian cities do similar programs.
As Parks Commissioner of Bogota, Penalosa expanded ‘Ciclovia’ from a few kilometres to become the largest and most successful Open Streets program in the world. Ciclovia opens 121 kilometres of road every Sunday and holiday for more than one million pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, runners, and strollers. Penalosa has since worked all over the world to establish Open Streets festivals in hundreds of cities across Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.