‘We don’t have that in Toronto’ is not good enough anymore

—This content brought to you by YongeTOmorrow—

Let’s paint a scene we all know too well. A client references an unreal experience they came across. An activation, right on a main street in some European city, and it was amazing. Naturally, the request that follows is to replicate that concept, recreate that level of excitement, and it’s your job to figure out what street it could live on. But the unfortunate answer, time and time again, is “We just don’t have that here in Toronto.”

In many cases, marketers and their activation or experiential partners have been forced to accept that. We have the usual go-to venues and spaces to produce events, experiences and activations, and that’s just the way it is.

But the landscape is changing, and we have an opportunity for further advancement with a new destination in the works.

After almost 10 years of conversations and consultations, a movement called YongeTOmorrow is building momentum to bring new life to Yonge Street between College and Queen. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform one of Toronto’s most iconic, historic and culturally important streets into a 21st-century urban destination, making it the city’s calling card.

The plan would deliver a multi-dimensional hub to produce unique experiences, activations and events. As the founder of stackt, I have seen first-hand the value proposition for our community by redefining public space with a heightened focus on creating a destination for people to gather and connect.

So why should we as an industry care about this? Can’t we just leave this to the politicians to figure out?

In recent months, I have seen openness from political players seeking input from the experiential sector. The importance of animation and experiences is recognized, and they will be looking to us to help them understand how to deliver. We can provide feedback not only on the type of experiences, but on elements such as event infrastructure and recommendations for uses of modular equipment.

As marketers and experience creators, we are always tested on how we can deliver authentic, meaningful experiences that drive an emotional connection and loyalty. More and more, this goal is aided by the look and feel of the location: a turnkey, multidimensional space that can deliver memorable moments in one grand experience.

We want places to deliver experiences that give no reason for anyone to want to leave and every reason to stay. Places that can contribute to happiness, wellness, balance, and fulfillment. Dynamic gathering hubs designed to elevate the human spirit for a better, more socially conscious world where compassionate active citizenship behaviour is the norm.

As experience creators, we yearn for a vibrant blank canvas that can deliver the functional needs to produce experiences in all aspects of lifestyle at one sitting. I believe YongeTOmorrow has the promise to deliver and be live by 2025. And this is just the start. If we get this right, the street could be revitalized south to Queens Quay and north to Davenport.

In this process, I have seen many citizens of Toronto step up and contribute. For some, it was the first civic project they have ever been involved with outside of voting. The idea that everyday citizens have control and can affect the outcome of what happens in our city is very much at play here, and has been eye-opening.

So I urge you to get informed, and have your voice heard before City Council votes on this on Tuesday. You can submit your support here.

YongeTOmorrow is for the Toronto of today and tomorrow. And as to whether Toronto has a vibrant 21st century main street that is a true desired destination, let us never have to say “we just don’t have that here” again.

Matt Rubinoff
Founder, stackt market