Winter Market 2023 Part 2: Good from far or far from good?

By Daryl Gonsalves, Columnist –

Every year, residents near the Distillery District brace for the traffic associated with the pop­ular Winter Market. Local res­idents I interviewed add con­tingency time for errands, and are on high-alert for careless drivers looking to cut precious milliseconds from their annual trip to the Winter Village.

My previous piece in the bridge summarized new meas­ures to mitigate this year’s traf­fic impacts, developed in collab­oration with the managers of the Distillery District. The prayers of all those who advocated for a revised strategy was a single condition for success: consist­ent and responsive enforcement from Toronto police and park­ing enforcement officers. This piece looks at the results so far, community reactions and what to expect next.

The Gooderham & Worts Neighbourhood Association (GWNA) and Distillery Dis­trict management have both ex­pressed cautious optimism that the revised traffic plan is work­ing, given the lack of specific traffic complaints made to both organizations. However, com­munity members living near the Winter Village are clear that im­pacts are still occurring.

Economists often say there is no free lunch, but in this city you can often get away with illegally parking for free and avoiding being towed due to the layers of bureaucracy. Despite a few ticketing campaigns, it is almost certain that you can see a few illegally parked cars on Mill Street daring Toronto Parking Authority to call their bluff. As buying a hot chocolate at the Winter Market costs about the same as an average parking ticket, towing is effectively the only meaningful deterrent.

Toronto Parking Authority continues to vow that towing is on the table. Residents who observe violations can call en­forcement at 416-808-2222 (se­lect option #4) and/or 311.

Need to get an appliance fixed or have late-night munchies? There have been incidents re­ported of paid-duty Police fail­ing to let through certain de­livery drivers or tradespeople. Residents are reminded to con­tact Distillery District manage­ment (inquiries@thedistillery­ & [email protected]), which has lines of communication with paid-duty police officers.

For local residents with mo­bility concerns, given that ride-sharing has moved to Front Street, WheelTrans and taxi ser­vices can still enter Mill Street for pickups. In addition, Dis­tillery District management is looking at improving the drop-off area on Front for loading and unloading. Transit users will find the popular 65 bus stop on Parliament, formerly south of Mill Street, has been relocated to north of Mill Street.

After the landmark Christmas tree was lit on November 16, the Winter Market will operate until January 7, 2024. the bridge will recap this year’s traffic impacts and consider how to enhance the 2024 edition.