In 2013, I brought a group of professionals together with a vision to bring Open Streets to Toronto. Since then this team, along with myself, 8-80 Cities, Sports Focused Consulting, Senayah Design and CicTOvia, have been working behind the scenes to develop the Open Streets TO program. Today, Open Streets TO is one of Canada's largest free, outdoor recreation and active transportation festival.
In August 2014, Open Streets TO was successfully launched with two program dates, attracting almost 50,000 participants to its Pilot Program. In 2015, the route grew to 6km in length and over 60,000 participants were seen over the summer. Every year since, the program has been growing in popularity, inviting over 100,000 people to play, get active and engage in community.
Activity Hubs run along the full length of the route, hosted by local businesses and organizations, and invite Torontonians to participate. Some of the organizations that have participated include the National Ballet School of Canada, the Invictus Games, the Native Youth Resource Centre, and the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Open Streets TO is inspired by a world-class program proven to positively impact healthy behaviour by repurposing existing public assets - namely our iconic streets - and providing access to free recreation space. Major global cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Mexico City, have launched open streets programs in recent years.