Whether it's the bench on your favourite street, the transit shelter you stand under on a rainy day, or the litter bin that frees your hands up after that last sip of morning brew… The City of Toronto's extensive street furniture helps residents and visitors navigate, explore and enjoy the city.
In 2007 the City of Toronto entered into a 20-year agreement with Astral Media for the supply, manufacture, installation and maintenance of 25,000 street furniture elements. The furniture includes transit shelters, litter bins, benches, publication box corrals and kiosks, postering structures, information pillars, and automated public toilets. The agreement provides Astral with advertising exclusivity on select transit shelters and information pillars. In return, the City benefits from free installation and maintenance of furniture, revenue sharing from advertising, and a number of other community benefits.
Overall Benefits of the Street Furniture Program
25,000 new pieces of furniture
A unique-to-Toronto design across the City, replacing several uncoordinated street furniture designs prior to 2006
More amenities for pedestrians
Reduced amount of advertising
Free public service advertising space for the City and BIAs
- Revenue sharing from advertising
All at no cost to the City
Additional Community Benefits
- Scholarship and summer student funding provided by Astral Media
- Direct revenues to the City from the program are applied to enhance and beautify the City’s public places, through such initiatives as increased maintenance of street trees, development of tourist wayfinding, landscaping City boulevards and neighbourhood beautification projects.
- Free access to public washrooms for people who are homeless
- Environmental stewardship, including the provision of solar powered transit shelters. More than 600 shelters on city streets are powered by solar energy.
Furniture designs were originally approved at the start of the program through a review process; however, ongoing efforts to improve aesthetics, functionality and ergonomics have resulted in a number of design refinements. The City continues to work with Astral Media to improve the design of street furniture elements.
Equally important to design quality is the care and attention to detail in locating furniture on Toronto streets to enhance and improve the overall pedestrian realm. The guidelines are established in the "Vibrant Streets” document (PDF).
For more information on design, click on each street furniture element below.
A wide range of transit shelter designs are used to provide the best possible comfort for transit patrons within the available space. Transit shelters come in two styles - enclosed or canopy shelters. Enclosed shelters are preferred for their ability to shield transit users from the elements in all directions. Canopy shelters provide an alternative where space or other factors do not allow for an enclosed shelter.
While all enclosed shelters include lighting, some are not lit continuously at night, instead turning on when a user walks in. In order to conserve energy through the night, motion sensors are used to activate lighting only when the shelter is in use.
Image: Enclosed transit shelter design
Image: Canopy transit shelter design
Benches come in two sizes, standard and mini.
Image: Standard bench design
There are two types of publication box structures: kiosks (providing a capacity of 8-16 publishers each) and corrals (providing a capacity of 2-4 publishers each). Both assist in organizing the dispensing of publications on city streets.
For information on publication box licensing, see Publication Box Licensing.
Image: Publication box corral design
Image: Publication box kiosk design
Postering structures provide space for members of the public to post and share information with the community. The Street Furniture Program provides two postering board formats: postering boards (affixed in transit shelters); and postering columns (freestanding on sidewalks). Postering surfaces are cleared once a week. For information on postering bylaws, see City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter § 693 Article IV.
Image: Postering Column
Information pillars assist Torontonians and visitors by providing maps and information on local landmarks and points of interest. Certain information pillars may also include advertising panels. Map information includes landmarks, districts, leisure activities and transportation information, such as transit.
Image: Information pillar design
Toronto's automated public toilets were first introduced in 2008. The automated public toilet is activated by inserting a $0.25 coin or token. Each patron has up to 20 minutes per use, with the time clearly communicated through a three-step audible warning process and a visual blinking light. After each patron exits, the unit will seal itself and begin a self-cleaning cycle. The unit is equipped with several sensors, and the cleaning procedure will not start if a patron is detected.
The automated public toilets are regularly maintained, with service personnel visiting the unit multiple times per day. The public can also request a maintenance call by dialing the phone number posted on the wall of the public toilet. The public toilet is well-lit both inside and out, and offers barrier-free access.
Image: Automated public toilet exterior
The Street Furniture Program has involved an extensive process that began well before the agreement with Astral Media was signed in 2007. The following list highlights major program milestones and council approvals.
- Pre-September 8, 2006 – City engaged in consultation activities to develop an RFP for a Coordinated Street Furniture Program.
September 8, 2006 – City issued a request for proposal (RFP) to solicit proposals for the Coordinated Street Furniture Program.
- May 23, 24 and 25, 2007 Council Meeting - City Council adopted the staff report and the Executive Committee recommendations that authorized award of the contract to Astral Media. The City entered into a 20-year Agreement with Astral Media for the supply, manufacture, installation and maintenance of nearly 25,000 pieces, which took effect on September 1, 2007. In addition, the direct revenues to the City from this program are being applied to enhance and beautify public places, through such initiatives as increased maintenance of street trees, development of tourist wayfinding, landscaping boulevards and neighbourhood beautification projects.
- December 11-13, 2013 - New "Public Realm" Reserve Fund is established.
- June 9, 2008 - New furniture was unveiled.
- April 10-12, 2013 - Review of Coordinated Street Furniture Contract
- November 13-18, 2013 - Strategy for Continuing Toronto's Bike Share Program
- May 6-8, 2014 - Agreement Modifications - Creative Advertising
- June 10-13, 2014 - Agreement Modifications Update
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