King St. to be closed for TIFF again this year

Sections of King St. West will be closed during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year, despite an ongoing project aimed at giving priority to streetcar operations on the busy downtown street.

“I was able to confirm that there will be closures on King Street for TIFF,” transportation services spokesperson Cheryl San Juan told the Star in an email Wednesday.

She said transportation staff were still discussing the details with festival organizers and the TTC and “the “size and the scope of any closures has not been determined yet.”

In previous years, a roughly five-block stretch of King between Peter St. and University Ave. has been closed for four days beginning the Thursday of the film festival’s opening weekend in order to create “Festival Street,” a closed off area featuring film screenings, extended restaurant patios, and other attractions.

That closure, which requires headache-inducing diversions to King streetcars during four weekday rush hours, has traditionally been accompanied by additional closures for red carpet premieres and other events that draw large crowds.

Councillor Joe Cressy, whose Trinity-Spadina ward represents the stretch of King that serves as a hub for the festival, said he expects the street to be closed for the Thursday and Friday of opening weekend again this year.

“The exact details we’re still working out, but absolutely Festival Street will be back,” said Cressy.

Cressy, who has been a strong proponent of the streetcar pilot, said that the festival attracts so many people it would likely require transit diversions regardless of whether the city wanted them.

“If we didn’t plan for a closure the closure would happen anyway, but we wouldn’t be able to (transit users) in advance,” he said.

“Frankly this is when Toronto puts its best foot forward to the world for a few days. And I think Festival Street is a worthwhile addition to that.”

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