2019 Toronto International Film Festival - Festival Street and TTC Service Plan

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 sixth annual Festival Street, a pedestrian promenade on King Street West, with events from Thursday, September 5, through Sunday, September 8. 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 streetcar service, as well as to minimize the impact on residents, road, and transit users.

Festival Street Details

Festival Street free public programming will include performances and screenings. Check out www.tiff.net/festival-street-2019  for more details nearer to the date of the Festival. Last year, Festival Street drew 280,000 visitors over just four days.

Beginning at 5 a.m. on Thursday, September 5, through to 5 a.m. on Monday, September 9, the following streets will be fully closed to vehicles:

  • King Street West between Peter Street and University Avenue
  • John Street between King Street West and Wellington Street West,
  • Ed Mirvish Way between King Street West and Pearl Street
  • Simcoe Street between Wellington Street West and Pearl Street

In addition, eastbound lanes on King Street West between Spadina Avenue and Peter Street will be closed, and westbound lanes on King Street West between York Street and University Avenue will be closed. All streets will be fully re-opened in time for the Monday morning commute.

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.

TTC Service Plan

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

From 5 a.m. on Thursday, September 5 until 5 a.m. on Monday, September 9, there will be no streetcar service on King Street between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue. During this period, there will be changes to the 504A King and 504B King, 508 Lake Shore (service starting September 3) and 304 King (night) routes.

504A King service will operate as a split route. Service from Distillery Loop will terminate at York Street, looping back via York, Queen, and Church to King. Service from Dundas West Station will divert from King via Spadina to Queen, on to Church Street, then looping back via Church, King, and York to Queen, and returning to the regular route on King via Spadina.

504B King service from Broadview Station will terminate at York Street, looping back via York, Queen, and Church to King.

508 Lake Shore (service starting September 3) from Long Branch Loop will divert from King via Spadina to Queen, terminating at Church Street and looping back via Richmond and Victoria Street, then following Queen to Spadina and returning to King.

304 King Streetcars will divert to and from Queen via Spadina Avenue and Church Street in the eastbound direction, and via York Street and Spadina Avenue in the westbound direction.

304 King shuttle busses will also operate from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. between Bathurst Street and Sherbourne Street, diverting via University Avenue, Richmond Street West, and Spadina Avenue in the westbound direction, and diverting via Spadina Avenue, Adelaide Street West, and University Avenue in the eastbound direction.

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 at any time during TIFF. Dedicated TTC supervisors will be on site during headline red carpet events to ensure that any temporary diversions are handled smoothly for TTC rider. Toronto Police will be positioned at key intersections to assist with traffic flow and TTC ambassadors will be available to help customers.

King Street Transit Priority Corridor

Earlier this year, City Council voted to make the King Street Transit Priority Corridor (formerly the "King Street Pilot") permanent. The Transit Priority Corridor is about moving people better on King Street and making the street work for everyone. I was a vocal advocate for testing the pilot and making it permanent, and worked hard to ensure its success and approval. Data collected over the course of the year-long pilot project showed that it was 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 first few opening days 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.