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A new vision of Yonge Street

Back in April I wrote about a competition for young people to reimagine public space in Toronto. It was called NXT City. Well that prize has been awarded and the winner was Richard Valenzona for his vision–called Yonge-Redux–of a new and reimagined Yonge Street. To download the PDF of his entry (the image shown above), click here.

The proposal encompasses a stretch of Yonge Street that runs from Queen Street in the south, to College Street in the north. It would capture the Toronto Eaton Centre (mall), Yonge-Dundas Square, Ryerson University’s expanded Yonge Street footprint, and the massive mixed-use developments happening in the College Park area (see Aura Tower). To quickly simplify, the proposal is essentially about enhancing the urban experience, prioritizing pedestrians, and reducing the flow of cars to two lanes.

Overall, I think it’s a wonderful proposal and I’m not surprised it won NXT City. This type of intervention is on so many of our minds. In fact, it’s somewhat surprising that we’ve been as slow as we have to improve our main street. There are so many anchor institutions, such as the Eaton Centre and Ryerson University, that plug into this section of Yonge Street. It makes a lot of sense.

But as I said in my original post, one of the most exciting things about the NXT City Prize is that it has always been about execution. This is not just an academic exercise–or at least that’s the hope. This exercise is about spurring real change in the city and I genuinely hope that they’re successful in doing so. Because then I can turn around and say: Take that Melbourne 🙂

Kudos to Richard Valenzona, Mackenzie Keast, as well as everyone else involved in NXT City, for making this initiative a reality and for doing your part to make Toronto even more awesome.

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