How We Design Flexible Streets

People enjoy a market along a promenade on the waterfront.



In This Blog:

  • We designed Merchants’ Wharf in the East Bayfront neighbourhood to be closed to vehicular traffic for events and activities on the waterfront  

  • Creating a space along the water for activities and events like Bayside Summer Saturdays helps create lively neighbourhoods, increases access to the lake, and expands public space on the waterfront  

  • When the street is closed to vehicular traffic, it becomes an extension of the water’s edge promenade, creating even more public access to the lake 


This summer, a new event called Bayside Summer Saturdays helped to provide more access and open spaces and lakeside views for people. Two days of fun and games, live music, and local vendors gave us a taste of the type of activity and liveliness we can expect as the Bayside community continues to develop. And it let the neighbourhood’s main street, Merchants’ Wharf, show off its full potential as a public square.  


A woman and children dance in a public space on a sunny day by the water.

Participants in Bayside Summer Saturdays having fun along the waterfront!  


Designing Flexible Streets 

Merchants’ Wharf was designed as the ‘Main Street’ for the Bayside Toronto development between Sherbourne Common and Parliament Slip. It connects to Queens Quay Boulevard East and runs along the water’s edge. While the street is usually open to vehicular traffic, it was designed so that it could be closed for events like Bayside Summer Saturdays.  


The street’s proximity to a stretch of the Water’s Edge Promenade – the 3.4km long walkway along Toronto’s inner harbour – allows it to function as an extension of the promenade, creating more open space and increased waterfront access. 

A festival along the waterfront in the summer.

Waterfront access and parks and open spaces were two of the top issues stakeholders identified as what matters most to them.  Creating streets that can accommodate vehicles and also create great pedestrian experiences helps to balance the needs of a growing community.  


Merchants’ Wharf, better than Roady McRoadface 

Did you know that Merchants’ Wharf was named as part of an online contest? In 2014, we received over 700 name ideas and shortlisted eight. Over 2,000 people voted on the short list, and Merchants’ Wharf was selected. The name commemorates an old shipping wharf located at the foot of Lower Sherbourne Street. Other names on the short list were used for other streets in the area, including Edgewater Drive and Kanadario Lane.  


Bayside Summer Saturdays  

We joined local vendors and entertainers for two fun-filled Saturdays in August. From facepainting and balloon animals to giant Jenga and tasty food options, it was a great way to enjoy summer in the city.  


Two people play a game on the promenade along the waterfront.

More photos from Bayside Summer Saturdays

A vendor at a market creates food item for public.
Two people play an interactive game on the waterfront.
A market vendor shows a product to a customer.



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