Local lane makeover for Farquhars

You may not have heard of Farquhars Lane, but that may soon change as the small laneway near the St. Lawrence Market is on the verge of receiving a groundbreaking makeover thanks to the Laneway Project, a local non-for-profit organization dedicated to redesigning Toronto’s relationship with its laneway networks.

The Laneway Project was founded in May 2014 by a team of urban designers who noticed Toronto’s rising population density and need for space—and looked to the laneway network as a solution.

“If you’re looking at the space in a neighborhood, you naturally start to see all of it,” said co-founder Michelle Senayah, “We were wondering why they [the laneways] are so under-used and under-loved, especially at a time where our city’s population is growing and intensifying… We need land and if parkland is expensive to buy, why are these laneways just sitting there?”

After an extensive fact-finding and visioning process, the Laneway Project established an objective for Farquhars Lane: to transform the laneway into a beautiful, shared and well managed multi-purpose space with a positive relationship with its neighboring properties.

Many of the project’s proposed changes, such as enhancing pedestrian safety and indicating a shared space through visual cues (decorative paving and pedestrian oriented light fixtures), were well received by St. Lawrence Neighbourhood residents and business owners at the Laneway Project’s most recent public workshop. Other proposed changes, notably a “loading zone” for delivery trucks on The Esplanade, were thought to be worth exploring, but in need of substantial research and rethinking in order to be practical.

Farquhars Lane is one of the Laneway Project’s pilot projects, and if all goes according to plan, it will set the bar for future projects, allowing them to reimagine and redesign more of the city’s 2400 laneways—which collectively account for over 250 acres of land.

“I’m sure none of us can conceive a block of land two thirds the size of High Park sitting underused in the middle of Downtown,” said Senayah, putting the Laneway Project into perspective, “But that’s what’s effectively happening.”

Posted On: October 01, 2015