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FOCUS: Keeping beloved market “cool”? (Apr. 2020)

May 1st, 2020 · No Comments

Kensington BIA hones its market masterplan

A new masterplan aims to achieve what Kensington Market has already mastered, says one resident. KHYRSTEN MIERAS/GLEANER NEWS

By Khyrsten Mieras

Before the pandemic, the Kensington Market BIA held an open house to share and adjust their Public Realm Masterplan. The goal of the plan is to provide a community-driven framework that will create positive change for Kensington Market’s public spaces while prioritizing equity and inclusion.

Sumo Projects, along with Gladki Planning Associates, Greenberg Consultants, and PMA Architects, developed the masterplan after a year of consultation, planning, and design. During the process, several meetings took place with stakeholders, the BIA, and Councillor Mike Layton.

Overall, the plan aims to improve many aspects of Kensington Market, including streets, sidewalks, green spaces, waste management, lighting, and parking for cars. It will also expand and enhance bike and pedestrian areas. However, consultants at the open house clarified that the plan is not final; it is a framework of ideas to kickstart the process for improving the neighbourhood.

Gaston Soucy, an urban design consultant for Sumo Projects, has worked closely with the BIA over the past year to create a plan that benefits the Kensington Market community.

“Kensington Market is a very, very beloved place, not only by the residents but also by the entire city,” said Soucy. “It is important to put a plan in place that can help protect the market or at least allow it to grow in a manner that is similar to the way it has been growing so far because there [are] a lot of external pressures… that could potentially damage the market.”

The open house featured a discussion with vision boards of the plan for the community to give their feedback on. Macro ideas for the plan are: decluttering the streetscape, implementing an urban tree system, enhancing the existing lighting system, improving the public waste bin disposal strategy, introducing curbless streets, and integrating historical values. Micro ideas consist of physical improvements like lighting, seasonal greenery, temporary seating, art, as well as activities and event programming for different audiences.

Many local business owners and residents who attended the meeting offered their thoughts and suggestions for improving Kensington Market. Some of these community members were looking for a change, while others wanted to keep the market the same.

Molly McGregor, a student at Ryerson and a long-time resident of Kensington Market, was unhappy with the negative impacts of the plan. 

“This masterplan is trying to achieve what Kensington Market has already mastered, which is to create a positive sense of community and really beautiful foot traffic,” she said. “It’s going to be a huge disruption to the life of the area. This kind of construction is unnecessary and will take up way too much time, money, and resources.”

Gwen Bang, the new BIA chair and owner of Lola, a bar and restaurant in Kensington Market, noted that the masterplan was created to protect the future of the neighbourhood. She said that protection should focus on the area’s residents and the success of its businesses year-round.

“I feel that the BIA should care about its members by way of sustaining the businesses in the area as well as keeping with its maintenance projects if there are any, and safety. But really sustaining businesses throughout the seasons, not just the summer,” she said. 

“My main goal now is to provide the transparency for everyone, for all the organizations and everything else, bridge everything together, and help our streets and help our businesses.”Final steps for the masterplan are ongoing and amendments are being made based on community input from the open house.

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