A number of major arteries are closed to vehicles for the second weekend in a row as the city continues its efforts to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The road closures, which are part of the city’s ActiveTO strategy, went into effect at 6 a.m. on Saturday and will remain in place until 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has said that the initiative, which also involves restricting a number of neighbourhood roads to local traffic only, could serve as a “living experiment” of sorts as the city looks for more permanent ways to create additional space for physically distancing.

“It is something that I have described as a living experiment so we can see how people react to it, whether they like it and how it works in the context of all the different users in public space. But there is no question in mind that we have to do a rebalancing of public space in light of everything, including people’s potential reluctance now to go back to the transit as quickly as we may want them to,” Tory said while visiting a closed portion of Lakeshore East Boulevard on Saturday afternoon. “To me these are not ideological or political issues; they are sensible issues that relate to the public health of the whole community and that kind of rebalancing that we need to be doing to account for the realities of the 21st century and the realities of a post -pandemic world.”

Tory conceded that it has sometimes been difficuilt to prevent crowd scenes during the COVID-19 pandemic but he said things like ActiveTO help shift the burden of responsibility onto individual citizens by ensuring that everyone has adequate space to get around.

Speaking with CP24 on Saturday morning, a number of residents taking advantage of the closure on Laek Shore Boulevard expressed appreciation for the initiative.

“These times are tough for everyone. Mental health is tough. So anytime we can get outside in a safe way to run, to walk, to bike, to just be with family I think it is a really smart idea,” one woman, who was out for a run, said. “I come early in the morning but I have heard from others who come later and say it is really challenging (to maintain physical distancing). I actually had someone get really upset with me because he thought I was getting too close. So any opportunities to create distance and allow us to still be healthy and physical is so appreciated.”

"I absolutely love it. It gives you more space to move around and you don’t have to stop constantly waiting for people, which is nice especially when I have my dog with me because he doesn’t social distance very well at all," another woman said.

The road closures in effect this weekend are as follows:

  • All eastbound lanes of Lakeshore Boulevard West, between Windermere Avenue and Stadium Road
  • The eastbound ramp off of the Gardiner Expressway (#146) to Lakeshore Boulevard
  • All eastbound lanes of Lakeshore Boulevard East between Coxwell Avenue and Kew Beach Avenue
  • The Bayview Extension (Avenue) between Mill Street and Rosedale Valley Road
  • River Street between Gerrard Street and the Bayview Extension