Change is coming to High Park, one of Toronto largest and best-known green spaces, and they are set to begin today.
The first phase of improvements to enhance visitor access and movement within the park as outlined in the Toronto City Council-approved High Park Movement Strategy (HPMS) begin on July 31, although they are not scheduled to take effect until Aug. 5. Key changes include the establishment of car-free zones at the West Road and parts of Colborne Lodge Drive, south of Grenadier Café. The main vehicle entrance will be relocated to Parkside Drive and High Park Boulevard, allowing access on weekdays but closing on weekends and holidays. The entrance at Bloor Street West will no longer permit visitor vehicles.
However, visitors will still have vehicle access to specific areas, including the Children’s Garden, Colborne Lodge Drive, and the Spring Road Parking lot at all times. To compensate for reduced parking spaces, designated pick-up and drop-off areas will be added near the main destinations. Additionally, dedicated bike lanes will be introduced on Centre Road and Colborne Lodge Drive, aiming to promote alternative, eco-friendly modes of transportation.
In order to prioritize pedestrian safety, improved pavement markings and signage will be implemented at pedestrian crossing areas. As part of the long-term vision, High Park will continue to be closed to visitor vehicles on weekends, holidays, and statutory holidays, a measure that has been in place since March 2020 and has received the council’s endorsement.
The High Park Movement Strategy (HPMS), launched in 2021, strives to improve safety, accessibility, and the preservation of the park’s natural environment. The recommendations for these changes were based on thorough research, including traffic and parking studies, and gathered feedback from over 10,000 participants through an extensive multi-phase engagement process.
The decision to implement these changes follows years of deliberation over car access. The city engaged with the public to determine the best approach, and in response to the popularity of pandemic-related road closures, the revitalization strategy was set in motion.
Councilor Gord Perks, who proposed the successful motion, said, at the time of the city council approval, that it will take several years to achieve a completely car-free park.
“I am grateful to Toronto residents and visitors who took part in the City’s extensive public consultations on the High Park Movement Strategy. While there is still a great deal of work, we must do, this is an important step in the right direction,” said Perks. “Working to achieve a car-free High Park aligns with the City’s commitments to Vision Zero, improved urban design and achieving our climate change goals.”
For those seeking further details about the High Park Movement Strategy, the City has made additional information available on its dedicated High Park Movement Strategy webpage.