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Ford won't support closing streets for Open Streets TO

Mayor Rob Ford said he won’t support a proposed plan to close a large section of Bloor Street for Open Streets TO this summer.

The program, championed by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, would see 11-kilometres of roadway shut down for four Sundays in a row starting July 27 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If the proposal goes through Bloor Street would be closed from High Park to Withrow Park as well as both Yonge St and Church St from Bloor south to Queen Street. Major intersections would experience a “soft close,” which would allow north-south traffic to pass through.

“I can’t support that,” said Ford. “We have to have traffic flowing in the city.”

The goal of Open Streets TO is to get Torontonians outside, be physically active and get socially connected.

Wong-Tam isn’t the only city councillor supporting the event. Coun. Ana Bailao is backing the proposal.

“The idea is actually to have people walking and cycling and doing gymnastics and doing physical activities on Bloor Street,” explained Bailao.

Ford said there are plenty of other locations for people to get out and exercise around the city.

“If people want to do their yoga we have tons of parks,” he stated. “We need our streets open, especially Bloor Street, for the cars. I can’t support shutting down streets for pedestrians four Sundays in a row.”

Bailao said the idea behind the program is also to bring people to areas of the city they wouldn’t normally frequent and bring customers to businesses at a time when street traffic isn’t always the busiest.

“You might have more people walking into your cafe to get a coffee or a tea,” she explained. “You might have people just walking into your stores.”

A similar idea takes place over the summer in Kensington Market where streets are shut down to vehicle traffic from noon to 7 p.m. for pedestrian Sundays.

The Open Streets initiative have been successful in such major cities as San Francisco, Portland and NYC.

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