Toronto International Film Festival – 2015 King Street closure
The Toronto International Film Festival has become one of our city's most important arts and cultural festivals, and showcases our artists, local businesses and neighbourhoods to the world. I am happy to support the continued success of the Festival, and to work with them to continue to improve the logistics and the impact of the Festival on our communities.
Last year, King Street was closed for a portion of the Festival in order to facilitate free pedestrian programming. This year, King Street will be closed for the first four days of the Festival, Thursday, September 10 to Sunday, September 13, to once again support the free pedestrian programming called "Festival Street".
It has also become clear during previous years that given the significant crowds and number of people who attend the Festival, especially during the opening days, closing the street is the best way to ensure the safety of all pedestrians and Festival goers.
I have worked closely with the TTC, Transportation Services, Economic Development and Culture, and TIFF to discuss the details of the closure over the past several months. We have worked hard to ensure that an extensive communication and mitigation plan is put in place to inform residents of the closure and the re-routing of the 504 Streetcar, as well as to minimize the impact on residents, road and transit users. As a result, there will be a number of crucial differences this year compared to the closure of King Street last year.
The TTC has worked to create a diversion plan that addresses last year's congestion on the Queen Streetcar route and better supports transit riders along the King route. Details will be distributed in the coming weeks, but the King route will be split into two sections (one coming from the East and one from the West), which will turn back (at Bathurst in the West and York in the East) at areas that maintain access to Queen for transfer purposes. Additional streetcars will also be added to Queen Street to transport passengers transferring from King. We heard that a concern regarding last year's detour was that too many streetcars were transferred onto Queen, which resulted in virtually stopped traffic along Queen Street. As a result, the TTC has proposed both some additional support on Queen and splitting the King route as outlined above, which they believe will better mitigate the impact on transit riders.
There will also be extensive communication locally and across the King Streetcar transit route to ensure maximum awareness of the closure. In addition to the TTC's regular communication and dissemination of closure-related information, TIFF will be distributing TTC materials to a much wider area along King Street. TIFF has agreed to cover the cost of and to distribute TTC materials in Wards 20, 19, 18 and 14, as these residents will be most impacted by the closure and streetcar re-routing. There will also be volunteers placed along the route in the lead up to and during the closure to inform transit users of the re-routing and to provide assistance. I am working closely with my Council colleagues to determine the appropriate distribution area, and will continue to work with TIFF on the logistics of disseminating these materials.
There will also be a variety of mitigation measures put in place to minimize the impact on road users. My office is collaborating closely with our City's Transportation Services department and TIFF as we review details and options, including the installation of paid-duty officers, expanded signage and other traffic management measures that will be required to best mitigate the impact of the closure for all road users.
As we look ahead to future years, we will be working closely with City Staff, the TTC and TIFF to discuss the area of the street closure, and to review possible alternate options and configurations that minimize the impact on transit users and continue to support TIFF's success in our City.
Detailed communication about the streetcar re-routing will begin in the coming weeks, but please do not hesitate to contact my office at any time if you have any questions.