What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Examining the Consequences of the City of Toronto Public Square By-laws on Diversity in Yonge-Dundas Square
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Public spaces are indispensible to the success of life in a city. Irrespective of ones opinion on whether the space is truly accessible or would be better off privately managed, at the most fundamental level, there is an overwhelming consensus, that public spaces shape the way that communities and neighborhoods mesh together. However, it is not enough to just build public spaces in the city. There are important characteristics that must be adhered to, in order for such spaces to be truly accessible to everyone, and to allow for diversity of activities, individuals and ideas to be encountered and experienced. But in an era where local municipalities often face financial budgetary constraints, coupled with the increasing role of the private sector, there are now new forms of public space management that are bringing forth newly enhanced regulations and local by-laws. The outcome is that such spaces are becoming less public as a result of exclusion of certain behaviours activities and political practices. Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, which is often compared with the likes of New York’s Times Square is managed by a board of management, who is tasked with implementing a set of by-laws that excludes "undesirables" and influences behaviors and activities occurring at the square. The purpose of this report is to identify what by-laws affect Yonge-Dundas Square public space in the City of Toronto and to determine what consequences they have on the diversity of users interacting and utilizing the space. Second, this report seeks to determine if there is an inconsistency with the intent of the by- laws and the reality of how the by-laws are interpreted by those who are implementing them.