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Church Street parklets a first for Toronto: Wong-Tam

Many hope to expand the program next year for WorldPride

Avery Pitcher, co-chair of the Church Wellesley Village BIA (CWVBIA); Ray Goral, store manager, Leaside Home Depot; Tyler Fleming, one of The 519's board of directors; Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Ward 27; Nancy Chater, the Planning Partnership; Mike Yorke, president of the Carpenters' Union Local 27; Liz Devine, co-chair, CWVBIA. Credit: Andrea Houston
Community members took to the new Church Street parklets on Aug 17 to help cut the ribbon for the official launch of the bright pink and orange street-side patios
 
Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam joined the Church Wellesley Village BIA and the 519 Church Street Community Centre to celebrate the success of the Village’s 10 new extended patios, which were installed last month.
 
“The Church Street parklet program is the very first in the City of Toronto,” she says. “I think that this is a new chapter for Church and Wellesley.
 
“We’re here today because we are introducing new urban parklets and having new urban experiences, as we reclaim public spaces across Ward 27 and across the City of Toronto, because public spaces are for people, not just for cars.”
 
The project is modelled after last summer’s Celebrate Yonge event, which saw Yonge Street from Gerrard to Queen streets closed to two lanes to create additional pedestrian space and extended patios. Wong-Tam says she hopes to see other neighbourhoods launch similar initiatives.
 
The summer seating will remain in place until Oct 20, when the parklets will revert back to parking spaces.
 
“Next year, the BIA is going to do this initiative again, but they will be doing it on their own,” Wong-Tam says.
 
Those present thanked Home Depot, which donated $20,000 in building materials, and the Carpenters Union Local 27, which donated the manpower to build the parklets.
 
Elsewhere on Church Street, on Aug 17, reggae and calypso bands played music from the back of pickup trucks to entertain those kicking back with drinks.
 
The Streetside program is bringing pop-up street parties to Toronto, Markham and Hamilton throughout the month to mark the two-year countdown to the 2015 Pan Am Games.