Politicians weigh in on King streetcar rerouting during TIFF

Sept. 5, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

Clamouring crowds trying to get photos of celebrities is being used as one of the reasons for rerouting the King Streetcar between University and Spadina over the next week. The diversions begin on Thursday and will last straight through Sunday, and then continue throughout periods in the afternoon and evening Monday and Tuesday for Toronto International Film Festival’s fifth ‘Festival Street.’

At a re-election announcement on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said safety is a primary justification for the TTC streetcar diversion on King Street during TIFF.

“We identified the fact that with the premieres that go on on King Street in front of the Princess of Wales Theatre and in front of the TIFF building, there was, in any event, a safety issue which would have led, in all probability, to that streetcar line being closed down quite a few times during TIFF on an unplanned basis,” Tory said at a post-production facility in Liberty Village.

“That in and of itself is not good planning and it’s also potentially dangerous because what happens is, huge crowds of people arrive in front of those theatres to see the movie stars, which is part of what TIFF is about, and the streetcar ends up getting closed down.”

A spokesperson for the TTC could not give any example of when a TIFF crowd has previously stopped or slowed down public transit in Toronto, but noted World Cup fans who climbed on top of a streetcar in 2010 after Spain defeated the Netherlands, as well as temporary service disruptions due to crowds during the G20 in Toronto.

“It’s one of those difficult decisions you have to make when you’re in my job,” Tory said, thanking commuters who have “put up with some inconvenience” and the TTC and TIFF who “have started… to make some small gestures to make sure [transit riders are] thanked for their forbearance during what I think many of them acknowledge as a very important city event.”

Signal Toronto reached mayoral candidate Sarah Climenhaga about the rerouting on Wednesday. In a statement she said, “The King Street pilot has been a great success for our city. The controversy over temporarily rerouting the streetcar during the Toronto International Film Festival demonstrates just how much people have come to rely on this excellent route… It’s understandable that some are frustrated with the temporary diversion, so it’s important that the city work closely with the TTC and local business and resident communities to ensure that resulting disruption for riders is minimized, and that the TIFF-related closures bring benefits to both the street and to our city as a whole. I support giving transit priority on streets beyond King. If transit commuters had more options for how to get around reliably and easily, it would be far easier for commuters to adapt to temporary disruptions such as this one.”

As a way of thanking TTC users, TIFF is giving away 4,800 vouchers at University and King, and Spadina and King (at subway and streetcar stops) that can be redeemed online for TIFF festival tickets, entry to year-round Lightbox events, or a free Sunday morning screening of a festival title at Roy Thomson Hall. The film title will be announced on our Twitter Saturday morning.

Commuters who don’t get a voucher but still want to attend the Sunday morning screening will be able to get in through the rush line with their Metropass or Presto card.

Festival Street activities will also include a number of activities and events.