At the beginning of 2011, City Planning Division initiated a Master Plan study for the downtown pedestrian network, commonly known as the PATH system. The study included stakeholder interviews and workshops, as well as two consultation sessions for public involvement. The study is now completed. All comments received have been considered in the preparation of the final PATH Master Plan documents. The following are the final documents available for viewing or downloading:
- PATH Pedestrian Network Master Plan: January 2012 (file size 3.5MB)
- Design Guidelines for PATH and Other Climate-Controlled Pedestrian Networks: February 2012 (file size 2.7MB)
From its beginnings in the late 1960's, the PATH system has continued to grow and increase in popularity as a very well-used pedestrian network that offers convenience and year-round climate controlled comfort to those travelling in the downtown. The original focus was on accommodating the rush-hour demands of downtown commuters, with direct underground connections to Union Station and five other subway stops and on providing services geared to meeting their lunch-time and shopping needs. However, as the PATH system has grown, so have the variety of its clientele and the range of amenities offered them, particularly with more housing and residents locating in the downtown area. Consequently, the levels of weekday off-peak and weekend use, along with the types of trip purpose, have been increasing. People can now grocery shop in the PATH as well as having access to a whole range of social, recreational, institutional and cultural activities.
From the outset, there has been the concern that the PATH system has grown incrementally in response to market forces and without the sense of a guiding vision or long-term, strategic objectives. This has given rise to the perception, among some, that the PATH network has spread in an unstructured manner with circuitous routes, varying dimensions and design standards, missing links and lost opportunities. To address these concerns, the former City of Toronto decided in 1987 to take on the role of coordinating agency for the PATH. As a result, the City funded and managed the development of the PATH way-finding system that was introduced in the early 1990's and produced design guidelines for the pedestrian network in 1995. Since amalgamation, the City has continued to have a limited role in the operation and expansion of the PATH system, with the exception of Council's recent approval and funding of the Northwest PATH link from Union Station.
Expanding Role of PATH
The community-building role of the PATH network has become increasingly important, though somewhat overlooked, as the population of the Downtown has expanded and a growing number of residents and families use the system as part of their daily lives. There is a need to more fully recognize and plan for the expanding role of the PATH network. The potential of the PATH system to be an instrument in achieving the City's planning goals for the Downtown needs to be more strongly acknowledged and embodied in the policies of the Official Plan. It is time to more proactively manage and direct the growth of this distinct and internationally recognized feature of the Downtown to maximize its contribution to the life of the City.
A planned link of the PATH network along York Street from Union Station to Wellington Street is currently undergoing detailed design with initial construction to occur in 2012. Read more about the Northwest PATH Pedestrian Tunnel.
The overall objectives of this Master Plan Study are to improve the operation of the existing PATH system and provide guidance for its future development and growth. The Master Plan will clarify and formalize the City's role and interest in the future development of the PATH system. It will provide a clearer direction and stronger authority to ensure the existing network, future links and design elements address the key objectives of the City. More information on the PATH network is available.
In addition, the study will: provide input to the five-year review of the City's Official Plan which is currently being undertaken, and update the existing design guidelines for the below, at and above grade pedestrian network, including a review of the way-finding strategies.
The stakeholder interviews were held on February 9 and 10, 2011 in Metro Hall and over 75 organizations were invited to participate in the process, resulting in eight sessions representing 40 stakeholder organizations. Stakeholders are organizations with an interest in the PATH network and include property owners, neighbourhood and resident associations, institutional property owners, public agencies, and representatives from business improvement areas A copy of the presentation from the stakeholder interviews (file size 1.5 MB) can be downloaded. You need the latest version of Adobe Acrobat reader to view and print the PDF files .
Two stakeholder workshops were held on April 6 and 7, 2011 in Metro Hall. The workshops brought together a range of perspectives with the aim to shape a preliminary vision and directions to guide the growth and enhancement of the PATH network over the long term. A copy of the presentation from each session can be downloaded:
- Workshop #1: The PATH Forward: How and Where to Grow (file size 3.7MB)
- Workshop #2: Improving the PATH: Design, Use & Function (file size 3.7MB)
The public had opportunities to review materials and ask questions of the project team and provide comments at two Drop-In events held in May and November 2011. The materials available at the Drop-In events include:
- Display Panels: November 2011 (file size 2.4MB)
- Display Panels: May 2011 (file size 3.5KB) sets the stage for the study