Toronto Has Become Carpocalypse

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Toronto’s road system is in a state of upheaval in the lead up to the 2015 Pan Am Games. Many roads were ripped up when we visited in May 2013. Last weekend we returned to those same roads in the same state plus a whole lot more.

Toronto Queen's Quay Construction 02

Toronto Queen's Quay Construction 01

What had been one of my most pleasant cities to visit had me deeply regretting staying downtown again at the Radisson Admiral Toronto-Harbourfront in the thick of the chaos.

Toronto Queen's Quay Construction 03

We inadvertently picked a weekend with the Detroit Tigers and their fans in town, Rogers Cup tennis finals, numerous street festivals including the massive Taste of the Danforth. The waterfront, popular with tourists, including the Gardiner Expressway and Queen’s Quay are the most disrupted. Even early morning Saturday and Sunday there were heavy delays in and out of Toronto from all directions.

Toronto parking is terrible at the best of times. Toronto Police seem to do little but issue parking tickets and each street has multiple parking regulation signs for times of year, times of day, types of permit and more. Last year in broad daylight we had a smash and grab in Chinatown when a friend left his backpack in our backseat. The police don’t even show for that, and this year I noticed sticky notes warning to heed to lesson of the broken glass everywhere.

Toronto Smash and Grab

Toronto Parking Meter

Public transit is not a great solution for the typical tourist. Airport connections are few and expensive, lacking a rail connection. The waterfront will eventually have extensive rail options, but for now linking up with the subway requires a hike up to Union Station, which is tough for people with restricted mobility.

What to do? Well, you could wait until the Pan Am Games finish in 2015 and take advantage of the then presumably completed infrastructure.

Or, get out to Toronto’s suburbs. Pushed out of the core, we found some delights that made us want to rush back for another visit. Ideas in the next post.

Toronto Scarborough Bluffs

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Whenever I’m downtown I always leave at least 20 minutes early just to plan for good parking and to have time to find something. I’m super picky and won’t pull over into a spot unless there’s not a lot of foot traffic.


[…] in Toronto is even worse than driving in Toronto’s current state of mass construction. Streets can have half a dozen or more parking […]


[…] ever-worsening traffic snarl in the lead-up to the 2015 Pan Am Games sent us scurrying to the suburbs. The received wisdom is a […]

8 years ago

To avoid the heavy traffic on the Gardiner, you can park your car at Kipling or Islington subway station if your coming from YYZ (free weeknights and all weekend IIRC)and take the subway to travel downtown.

8 years ago

The Gardiner Exp entering from the QEW to get into downtown Toronto is a complete and utter mess. Avoid as waiting time is dreadful.

8 years ago

From YTZ, you can fly direct to BOS, EWR, IAD and MDW (plus MYR and BTV seasonally).

Once Porter expansion plans are approved, more cities would be served.

8 years ago

Another great idea, if you can swing it, is to fly to Billy Bishop Airport instead of Pearson. It’s located right downtown. I know there are direct flights from Dulles, but I’m not sure what other US cities have flights there.