If you’re looking for a place to park your car on Church Street this summer, you could be out of luck. But if you are looking for somewhere to sit and enjoy the scenery, there will be more options.
Eight stretches of parking spaces in the Church-Wellesley village have been converted to mini patios–or “parklets”–with seating, tables and gardens. Each parklet eliminates up to seven parking spaces along the east side of the street.
Some of the parklets are already fully-outfitted, the rest will be completed this week and will remain in place until Halloween. After that, they’ll be stored for the winter and re-installed come springtime.
The project–a collaboration between city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and the 519 Church Street Community Centre–was designed by urban design firm The Planning Partnership. It’s part of an ongoing plan to spruce up the street ahead of the 2014 World Pride events and 2015 PanAm games.
“We just are excited about being able to expand the public realm without having to rebuild the street,” said Nancy Chater, a landscape architect with The Planning Partnership who is coordinating the project.
She said while feedback has been mostly positive as the parklets roll out–people were already sprawled out on the benches and making use of the tables this weekend–there is some criticism.
“People ask ‘aren’t businesses concerned about losing parking?’ But it actually works in their favour to increase pedestrians.”
Inspired by similar set-ups in Vancouver and the success of a parklet conversion along Yonge Street last year, the parklets will be scattered from just north of Wellesley Street to just south of Maitland street.