City Builders release Open Letter to Mayor and Members of Council on REimagine Yonge

This morning, the team at the Ryerson City Building Institute asked John to distribute this open letter addressed to the mayor and members of council regarding the coming vote on PW27.1 REimagining Yonge on their behalf.

How could this many great urban thinkers be wrong?


March 23, 2018

Dear Mayor Tory and Council,

This is an Open Letter to support the “Transform Yonge” recommendation for Yonge Street in North York. We believe that this is a once in generation opportunity to redesign a six-lane thoroughfare into a truly urban main street.

While we appreciate the Mayor’s efforts to relocate cycling lanes to Beecroft Road and make cycling an option in North York, the “Transform Yonge” proposal is not about bike lanes; it’s about the health and vitality of this growing urban centre.  Reducing one lane of traffic in each direction allows for expanded sidewalks, greenery, and more space for patios and public life. Bike lanes are part of the package, but they aren’t the impetus.

North York Centre is Ontario’s second-densest Urban Growth Centre and one of Toronto’s fastest growing neighbourhoods, with over 75,000 people and jobs, and counting. Growth of this scale calls for thoughtful and forward-thinking street design to ensure the livability of this neighbourhood for years to come.

The future of Yonge North – and the quality of life for its residents and workers – shouldn’t come down to the question of bike lanes on Beecroft or bike lanes on Yonge, nor should it come down to a one minute increase in vehicle travel times.  A cars-vs.-people lens doesn’t help us move forward as a city. We need to imagine a brighter future for Yonge Street North that moves beyond bike lanes and towards a bolder vision of who streets are for: people.

A planned road reconstruction to replace old underground infrastructure brings a 50-year opportunity to redesign Yonge Street at the surface. If we don’t seize this opportunity today, we will have to wait another half-century.  As you know, technology and urbanization will drastically change how we live and get around in our urban centres, and it behooves us to future-proof our streets. North York Centre will look very different in 50 years, and it deserves a vibrant, safe, pedestrian- and business-friendly street to help transform it into a true urban neighbourhood.

We, therefore, urge you to support City staff’s recommended “Transform Yonge” option for Yonge Street North environmental assessment.


David Crombie

Richard Florida

Jennifer Keesmaat

Jack Diamond

Ken Greenberg, Principal, Greenberg Consultants

Anne Golden, Chair, Ryerson City Building Institute

Gil Penalosa, Chair, 8-80 Cities

Joe Berridge

Richard Joy

Paul Bedford

Richard Peddie, Former CEO and president Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

Matthew Blackett, Publisher & Editor, Spacing Magazine

Cherise Burda, Executive Director, Ryerson City Building Institute