In Kensington Market, the sudden appearance of bright yellow barricades had come to herald the conclusion of the month. The crude, fence-type structures traditionally began to manifest on sidewalks a handful of days prior to Pedestrian Sunday, at which time they would be shuffled out onto the roads. Often, they’d be accompanied by a breathless Yvonne Bambrick, sliding and arranging and managing the barriers to ensure the only motorized vehicles allowed through would be those belonging to the few neighbourhood residents determined to maintain automotive access to their dwellings at all times. Formerly a member of Streets Are for People (the activist quartet that founded the Sunday events), Bambrick is now the coordinator of the Kensington Market BIA, the organization currently handling them. She has been doing this for years.
Beginning this Sunday, July 29, however, the specifics of her task will change. Seven semi-permanent barriers were installed in Kensington Market today, to remain for the festival season. Functioning as mere curbside planters on regular days, each bears a gate that can swing outwards to cut off vehicular traffic; some of them even have an arm that extends a little bit further, to capture the width of the road. Into each contraption is etched a different Kensington Market tableau—certain ones are less abstract and easier to make out than others.
They are located on: St. Andrew, east of Kensington Avenue; Baldwin, west of Spadina; Augusta, north of Denison Square; and two each on Augusta at the intersections of Nassau and Oxford. (Click on the image above to view a photo gallery of all the barriers.)
The new infrastructure coincides with the introduction of Market Sundays, an experiment in more frequent street closures that are unaccompanied by specific celebratory programming. Starting with Pedestrian Sunday’s third year, in 2006, the event had fallen into a predictable pattern: It was held the final Sunday of each month, from May to October, and sometimes also on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the 2003 blackout. In 2012, there are only three Pedestrian Sundays designated as such: on May 27, July 29, and September 30. But every Sunday from August 5 through September 23 will be a Market Sunday: With no cars but also no particular festivities, the intention is to strike a balance between the regular weekend chaos and the slightly-more-deliberate Pedestrian Sunday chaos.
An official media launch for the planter-barriers will take place on tomorrow (July 27) morning at 9:30 a.m., at the Baldwin Street installation. Mayor Rob Ford is not expected to attend.