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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Queen’s Quay promenade makeover finally on its way

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Queens Quay at Simcoe looking west

Queen’s Quay is finally on its way to becoming the signature tourist street in all of Toronto. Yesterday, Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell and vice-president of planning and design for the company, Chris Glaisek, spoke with media about the proposed changes to transform the space by the end of 2014.

The predicted $110-million changes will be on the north and south sides of Queen’s Quay between Yo Yo Ma Lane and Bay Street. A pedestrian promenade will replace two lanes of traffic, attracting more people to wander along the waterfront. 229 new trees planted will make the street greener and more park-like.

The redesign also includes new bike lanes that will connect the Martin Goodman trail, updated utilities, wider streetcar platforms as well as a dedicated streetcar corridor in the middle of the street and improved turning lanes to keep traffic moving faster and more efficiently. Granite tiles on the promenade will be done in red and white, and laid out in a pattern so as to create a mosaic of a maple leaf, repeated down the street.

“This project really came from the critique of Queen’s Quay… and a desire to create a really beautiful public realm on Toronto’s main waterfront street,” Glaisek says.

In 2006 when the project was first announced, a design competition yielded a stunning design from West 8 and DTAH, however, environmental assessments kept it from being started then. Since, numerous consultations have been held with community members as well as businesses and landowners who will be directly affected. Now the project is ready to move ahead, and will begin this summer with utility upgrades.

Queen’s Quay will be open to the public during the entire construction process. The work will be done in blocks or small areas so as not to affect the entire street at once.

“In Barcelona you have the Ramblas, in Paris you have the Champs Elysees. We don’t really have a street like that in Toronto, and the aspiration is for it to become that. We think the design lives up to that promise.”

Below is a list of significant dates for Queens Quay’s construction

Summer 2013 – Summer 2014
• Replacement of aging infrastructure by Toronto Hydro, sanitary sewers, storm sewers.
• Installation of new ducts banks and cabling by Bell
• Update of TTC infrastructure. Tracks will be ripped up, a new corridor will be built as well as new concrete track beds and rails/tracks.

Summer 2013 – Early 2014
• Demolishing of north side traffic lanes and curbs. Rebuilding of roads, curbs, turning lanes and lay-bys
• Demolishing of sidewalk. Installment of new granite curbs and granite sidewalk. New lighting, tree planting
• New TTC Spadina loop and tracks at northeast corner of Queen’s Quay and Spadina Avenue. Since this will be done after the other tracks are finished, this will cause some suspension of TTC service.

Early 2014 – Late 2014
• Pedestrian promenade development, including granite curbs and lighting
• Building of the Martin Goodman trail
• Installation of lighting, benches and trees along promenade and trail



  1. What is going to happen east of Bay? I believe there will still be a hole in the Martin Goodman trail without addressing that part.

  2. The trail is being temporarily extended east of Bay and west of Yo Yo Ma Lane, until those sections of Queens Quay receive a similar treatment as the stretch discussed above.

  3. The trees are nice during the day and give it an appeal but it blocks out street lights at night and make it extremely dark and the perception that its unsafe. It won’t be pedestrian friendly at night if its dark with lots of trees because “danger always lurks”…