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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Dundas Square Revisited
06/04/2004

In January of 2003, I wrote a short review of the newly-opened Dundas Square. Yesterday I was walking by, and decided to sit in the square for a while and observe. I wanted to know if things have gotten any better.

Here's what I witnessed:

  • Dundas Square was completely empty. It looked like a condemned parking lot
  • People were walking along all the sidewalks that surround the square, but very few passed through

And that's how it remained.

Granted, it was pretty cold yesterday. But it doesn't change my judgment that there is something wrong with Dundas Square and it needs to be fixed.

Over the time that it has been open, I have seen some crowds there. Usually those crowds have watching some performance or broadcast on the stage. There also have been people seated at the tables along the north edge, drinking coffee. One night I walked through and it a gang of bicyclists was riding around in circles.

But I feel that the biggest problem with Dundas Square is the same one I was concerned about in my first review. That is, there is a huge void in the middle of the square due to the lack of amenities there.

The square needs something in the centre for people to sit on. Once people start sitting there, other people will come along and sit nearby, and still more people will come along to talk, or perform, or pick up girls, or guys, or sell things, or, or, or... No one is going to go into the centre of the square right now and just stand in the middle of an empty parking lot. There is nothing to stop them there, not even more a moment.

What's more, there is very little reason for people to even walk through the square. First of all, there isn't a whole lot of interest to the east, so most people walking in the area are simply passing by along Yonge. But this can change over time. However, the way the square has been designed, there are barriers that block people who would otherwise cut through. The stage blocks nearly all the access to/from the east.

So, I'm still not happy with Dundas Square. On the other hand, I'm glad that they built it. Now that it's there, someone will eventually get it right. Even if it lays barren for 20 years, once someone gets it right, it will be a great asset from then on.

As it stands now, it is just a place for businesses to put up bright signage, in a mindless repetition of Times Square.


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