Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Ryerson celebrates permanent pedestrian zone on Gould Street

Read more articles by

Ryerson University community members and city staff took to the streets this past Wednesday — or more specifically, to Gould Street — to celebrate its official closure to cars and the creation of a permanent pedestrian zone.

The pedestrian area, now named Ryerson Square, runs along Gould, which is the main throughfare of Ryerson’s campus. It extends from O’Keefe Lane to Bond Street, and also included a portion of Victoria Street (Google Maps has already updated the street to show its new designation). This space experiences an abundance of foot traffic (Ryerson has more than 35,000 full and part-time student), features a weekly summer farmers’ market, and a number of chairs and patio tables.

The campaign for Gould’s closure has long been a vocal project of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). After years of campaigning, a one-year pilot program was approved in 2010, which was later extended by six months. On February 6, 2012, Toronto City Council voted to permanently close the streets — as well as parts of Willcocks Street at the University of Toronto — to car traffic, with a new term for the agreement every five years.

But despite this victory, the calls for improved zones for foot traffic continue.

Incoming RSU president Rodney Diverlus said that a new campaign to extend the pedestrian zone east along Gould to Church Street is already underway. “The great thing about this time around is we actually have the support of the university and we have the support of the City,” he said.

But Diverlus stated that changes won’t be happening over night. “We acknowledge that to close a street is a logistical nightmare, especially a street north of Dundas,” he said. “But we still have perseverance.”

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents the ward containing Ryerson, also attended the rally. She called Ryerson a significant city-builder in the downtown community, and joined calls for the extension of the pedestrian zone to intersect with Yonge Street.

“Having people come and experience this street [Gould] is important,” she said. “They’ve actually been able to determine that closing down a street or widening a sidewalk is not going to end the world, and the city will continue to operate. And we see that the businesses on Yonge Street are supportive of having more pedestrian activity. I think that this will just be a natural extension of what can happen to Yonge Street.”



  1. Great to hear this! Congrats to Ryerson and those of us that traverse the area now and again. It definitely gives Ryerson’s campus a boost in terms of character as it is a great place to soak in the energetic atmosphere of a downtown university. I have enjoyed a spontaneous coffee on the patio seating there in the past and will continue to do so now that it is permanent (every 5 years). Pedestrians use the goods and services provided at street level, cars just drive by.

  2. Comparable in importance to the closing of 116th St in Manhattan, a move that created the modern Columbia University campus. Will have increasing impact as years pass. Good job Ryerson, good job Toronto.

  3. If it’s for pedestrians, why is there a guy on his bike? Cyclists are not pedestrians.

  4. PF: Cyclists ARE pedestrians, just when they’re not on their bikes. And bikes are allowed on Gould Street, and rightly so since there is enough room for them.

  5. About time!!!!!! We wanted to do this back in the early 90’s and were told it was too difficult because of the traffic issues. 

  6. Cyclist are not allowed in pedestrian zones. They are required to dismount and walk their bike through the area. This applies to all street closures whether permanent or temporary,

  7. What is it with the hate-on for cyclists in Toronto? I’m sorry the driving is so bad, because of on-street parking, and high car-ownership. I’m sorry that transit is so bad, because the population kept voting for provincial and federal governments which beggar the city, and idiots from N.York and Etobicoke as mayor to boot. I’m sorry that both driving and transit are so bad it irks you that the only decent way to get around is the bike, but you’re too lazy to do so, and love life too little.