News / Toronto

John Street transformation to receive $40 million in funding

A decade in the making, the plan will make John a pedestrian-oriented cultural corridor.

Rendering of the proposed intersection at the southeast corner of Richmond and John.

Contributed

Rendering of the proposed intersection at the southeast corner of Richmond and John.

John Street’s much-anticipated makeover that will turn the downtown street into a pedestrian-friendly plaza now has $40 million in funding, Metro has learned.

The John Street Cultural Corridor project was a decade in the making. The consultations and designs have been completed, and formal construction will start as soon as 2018 or early 2019, said local councillor Joe Cressy.

“It’s part of a generational shift to move people rather than cars,” he said of the plan to transform John Street, which will have a pedestrian-focus in the same way the new design for King Street will have a transit focus.

“Think of Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington, but along a cultural corridor.”

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The proposal stretches from Rogers Centre to the south (Front Street) to the AGO to the north (Stephanie Street). Other cultural institutions along John include the CBC building at Wellington, Metro Hall at King and the Bell Media building at Queen.

The John Street Corridor project would widen sidewalks and boulevards, install new public art, add additional trees and lighting and introduce innovative road design to calm traffic. The aim is to create a street that can easily host cultural events throughout the year.

The plan would also reduce traffic to one lane each way, and Cressy knows there will be objections.

“Certainly I anticipate some people will say it will slow down traffic. It will, by design,” he stated, adding that “transformative change” will always leave some people unhappy.

“Different streets have different purposes. This is designed to be a street for pedestrians and for culture.”

The project will be funded with $15 million from local Section 37 funds, which developers contribute when they exceed density limits in the city’s official plan. The Entertainment District BIA will also contribute. The majority of the funding will come out of the city’s existing budget, with repairs and capital projects rejigged to fit the project and timed to take place when John Street will already be torn up.

Phase 1 will take place from Front to King and Adelaide to Stephanie. Phase 2 will take place from Adelaide to King and coincide with the construction of the Mirvish-Gehry development.

“Often we see parks as our urban spaces,” said Cressy. “This uses the street for that.”

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