2018 Toronto International Film Festival - Festival Street and other important information

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of our city's most important arts and cultural festivals, is just around the corner. This year, TIFF will be hosting its fifth annual Festival Street, a pedestrian promenade on King Street West, with events from Thursday, September 6, through Sunday, September 9. A portion of King Street will be closed for Festival Street to support the free pedestrian programming and ensure the safety of the large crowds who attend the opening days of TIFF.

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 King Streetcar and 514 Cherry Streetcar, as well as to minimize the impact on residents, road, and transit users.

Festival Street Details

Beginning at 5 a.m. on Thursday, September 6, King Street will be fully closed to vehicles between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue. John Street and Simcoe Street between King Street and Wellington Street will also be closed during this period. All streets will re-open at 5 a.m. on Monday, September 10.

Arrangements are being made for buildings affected by these closures and they will be notified directly. Please contact my office if you have any questions about your building or business.

Festival Street programming will include free events including a musical performance by Kayla Diamond and a screening of Penny Marshall's Big starring Tom Hanks. Local restaurants will have extended patios on King Street and there will be an array of food trucks to sample from. Last year 150,000 visitors came out to enjoy all that Festival Street has to offer.

TIFF and the TTC have also partnered to provide a special free screening at Roy Thomson Hall for anyone who brings their TTC Metropass or Presto card.

As the festival approaches, additional details about all the free events and activities will be posted at https://www.tiff.net/tiff/films.html?cost=free.

TTC Service Plan

The TTC has worked to create a diversion plan that addresses some of the issues we saw in past years and better supports transit riders along the King route.

From 5 a.m. on Thursday, September 6 until 5 a.m. on Monday, September 10, there will be no streetcar service on King Street between University and Spadina. TTC Ambassadors will be deployed in the affected area to assist customers. Information is also being made available through social media, digital station screens, station signage, and public address announcements.

During this period, the 504 King, 514 Cherry, and 304 King (night) streetcar lines will divert to Queen Street.

Westbound to Dundas West: west on King Street, north on York Street, west on Queen Street, south on Spadina Avenue, and then continuing westbound on King Street and the regular route.

Eastbound to Broadview/Cherry: east on King Street, north on Spadina Avenue, east on Queen Street, south on Church Street, and then continuing eastbound on King Street and the regular route.

The 503 Kingston Road service from the east end will loop back at Church Street.

A supplementary 304 King night bus will also run from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. during this period, providing parallel service between Bathurst and Parliament. Between University and Spadina, the night bus will divert to Richmond Street westbound and Adelaide Street eastbound.

Please visit the TTC's website for a map and detailed description of all the route diversions, including overnight services, as well as Wheel-Trans service changes.

During the remainder of the festival, King Street will be open to general traffic including streetcars. For the safety of crowds during red carpet events, Toronto Police may determine that it is necessary to temporarily close King Street to vehicles. Dedicated TTC supervisors will be on site during headline red carpet events to ensure that any temporary diversion are handled smoothly for TTC riders.

King Street Transit Pilot

The King Street Transit Pilot is about moving people better on King Street, and making the street work for everyone. Over the past number of months, data collected has shown that the Pilot is moving many more people with greater speed and reliability.

The decision to divert streetcars around Festival Street was made following intensive discussions with City staff, TTC, and Toronto Police. It was determined that on balance a planned street closure would likely cause less disruption for transit riders than if we were to try to maintain regular streetcar service through all the activity and excitement associated with TIFF. The practical reality of TIFF is that hundreds of thousands of visitors come to King Street for the festival experience, and on the opening weekend there is such a high frequency of headline red carpet events at the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall – both directly on King Street – that last-minute emergency street closures at the discretion of Toronto Police are virtually unavoidable.

By making the decision to have a planned street closure, residents, businesses, and the TTC have more time to make appropriate arrangements in anticipation of Festival Street. For the TTC, this includes having additional management staff on site to monitor and respond to live conditions, ensuring police officers are deployed at major intersections to assist with streetcar turns, and broadly communicating the changes to riders ahead of time so there are no surprises.