O’Keefe Lane has the potential to be a multi-modal and multi-functional space that provides a finer grain of connectivity across the Downtown Yonge neighbourhood; a shared meeting place for local workers, students and other community members; and a canvas for local culture. Unfortunately, the laneway is not currently living up to this potential. It functions today as a purely utilitarian service space for its adjacent businesses and university bodies, and as an impromptu stopping space for youth from nearby Covenant House, but is not an attractive or engaging space and does not invite wider use or stewardship by the community.
Ryerson University brought together members of the local community, including the Downtown Yonge BIA, Covenant House and various University bodies, to reimagine O’Keefe Lane as a welcoming, safe and dynamic shared space. The revitalized laneway will sit within and be informed by the Ryerson University Master Plan and Public Realm Strategy, and the Downtown Yonge BIA’s neighbourhood-wide laneway improvement strategy.
The Laneway Project worked with the core project group and the broader community to develop a set of project goals and structure a design competition to get O’Keefe Lane working as a positive public place.