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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Bloor West passage

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At Bloor West just east of Symington, a new public walkway between a three-storey condominium and the Rankin apartment buildings provides an attractive and safe pedestrian connection between Bloor and the ethnically rich community to the north. Climbing an eight-foot incline, the short footpath meets up with Rankin St., which runs east from Symington before curving northwards.

About four years ago, this site wasn't much more than an abandoned field with a set of steep stairs leading up from busy Bloor Street. Locals (many of them senior citizens) didn't like using the steps because they were poorly lit and unsafe, especially in the winter.

Today, a beautiful new tiered walkway, with comfortable benches, trees for shade, native shrubs, soft lighting, and a ramp for bikes and wheelchairs, makes this space a wonderful addition to the community. Walk up the path from Bloor and before you know it, you've left the fast pace of Bloor West to find yourself among old and new tree-lined streets; another 2 minutes of walking brings you to Erwin Krickhahn Park. Farther north, the bakeries on Dupont Street offer tasty Portuguese breads and pastries.

Even though the new promenade is small (about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide), it has become a gathering place for the community. On a late summer night last year, I stopped by the walkway while riding home and asked the people who were sitting there, enjoying the warm July weather, how they felt about their new space. Kids playing marbles replied that they had met new friends since the walkway had been built. The park's patrons believed that it acted as a deterrent against crime. "Eyes on the street" said a young woman, while her child slept in her arms. A Portuguese man in his late sixties summed it up: "It's like having a front porch on Bloor Street."