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What Queen's Quay will look like in 2015

Posted by Derek Flack / June 5, 2012

Queen's Quay RevitalizationEarlier today, Waterfront Toronto announced that the early stages of construction are underway on the revitalization of Queen's Quay, a $110 million project that's projected to be complete in 2015. Construction will focus on the stretch between Lower Spadina and Bay Street, a crucial waterfront corridor that's presently not altogether that friendly to pedestrians or cyclists.

Project highlights include a new dedicated section for streetcars, the relocation of the roadway to the north side of the street, a waterfront pedestrian promenade on the south side, and the extension of the Martin Goodman Trail in place of the current bike lane. Collectively, these improvements should make Queen's Quay a much more desirable way to access the waterfront and various amenities at Harbourfront.

"There will never be a better time to build this spectacular new waterfront destination," said Waterfront Toronto President and CEO in a press release. "The TTC tracks need to be replaced and utilities and municipal infrastructure require major upgrades - it's a win for the locals, the City and the millions of visitors who will be drawn to this special place."

It's also overdue. Navigating the street on summer weekends — whether it be by car, foot, or bike — has long been a frustrating experience on account of overcrowding. These changes should ease congestion and make the area more welcoming in general. And that's something this former industrial strip has needed for quite some time.


Queen's Quay RevitalizationLooking east across the Simcoe Wave Deck

Queen's Quay RevitalizationNorth sidewalk

Queen's Quay RevitalizationSouth side pedestrian promenade

Queen's Quay RevitalizationQueen's Quay at Lower Simcoe looking west

Queen's Quay RevitalizationNorth sidewalk today

Queen's Quay RevitalizationNorth sidewalk in 2015

Queen's Quay RevitalizationSouth sidewalk today

Queen's Quay RevitalizationSouth side pedestrian sidewalk in 2015


By way of comparison, check out what Queen's Quay used to look like when it was primarily an industrial area.

Renderings from Waterfront Toronto



Jeff / June 5, 2012 at 01:13 pm
They need to put "no stopping" zones along Queens Quay. Crazy there traffic wise, even trying to ride a bike around there. So many people are parking illegally it is nuts. And, those that aren't parking "illegally" (ie. handicap patrons) could actually just pay for parking in the lots... One car parked along the curb lane causes a big traffic jam, worse when the whole lane is full of parked cars.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Jeff / June 5, 2012 at 01:19 pm
Don't you know that the NO PARKING signs does not apply to me?
billy / June 5, 2012 at 01:29 pm
At Queen's Quay and Lower Simcoe, right now there are only two lanes on the north side of the streetcar tracks. How did they get the third lane there? Unless they are actually going to spend a hundred million dollars moving the streetcar tracks. That would be a bad idea.
Wilson W / June 5, 2012 at 01:36 pm
The one thing that Queens Quay is lacking is greenery currently.

So glad this street is going to be treelined.

The current street is an embarassment to this city
Realist / June 5, 2012 at 01:38 pm
*will look like in 2018*

They forgot about the 3 year delay...
Dialog / June 5, 2012 at 01:42 pm
They're planting fully mature trees?
Simon / June 5, 2012 at 01:44 pm
This is a nightmare scenario. Traffic on QQ is already brutal and these further lane restrictions will make it worse. It's nice to think that everyone who works/lives/plays down by QQ can bike or take TTC, but that's not being realistic. The residences of that neighbourhood are expensive and people who buy them also have cars. Plus, more and more business is moving in all the time - more cars. This is pure folly.
Karmine / June 5, 2012 at 01:46 pm
Nothing special in these pics. Seems like they'll plant some trees. No big deal
Mark replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 01:48 pm
Yeah, too bad there isn't an elevated expressway right beside with another road underneath it.
Todd Toronto replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 01:51 pm
The Harbourfont area is Toronto's backyard. I drive and am not anti-car by any stretch, but the interests of pedestrians need to come first down there.

Nice that in the future, the Martin Goodman Trail will still looks like cement with two lines running down the centre.
Pk replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 01:52 pm
... and less room for cars will make it less brutal. Stem the tide.

Harbourfront is a boulevard that hasn't been allowed to be a boulevard for decades.

Simon replying to a comment from Mark / June 5, 2012 at 02:01 pm
No need to snark... it's not like the presence of the Gardiner/Lakeshore combo is helping with traffic problems at the moment. Just saying this seems like yet another plan that fails to take into consideration reality. The hundreds (thousands?) of cars that belong to residents and business people in the area need to go somewhere. These folks made their buying/business decisions based on the existing traffic plans. Changing that fundamentally changes the nature of that decision. Hope they at least get a majority of residents and business owners on-side before going ahead with this.
BR / June 5, 2012 at 02:14 pm
What about the spooky ghosts in the last image? IS NO ONE CONCERNED ABOUT THE GHOSTS?
Andrew replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 02:21 pm
Geez, Simon, I think that if anyone bought a condo on or near the lakeshore / Queen's Quay and planned to rely on their car to go to work, maybe they made the wrong decision. The whole point of living in the city is to rely less on the need to drive long distances to work.
jen replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 02:24 pm
Maybe, just MAYBE, the people who live there and own cars would leave their cars at home if transit/pedestrian walkways and bikeways were improved. Just a thought.

As it stands right now, QQ is a mess for everyone, cars included. I think these plans will improve things all around. Can't wait for the Martin Goodman trail extension!
Casper / June 5, 2012 at 02:25 pm
Gah! Be afraid, very afraid or the bugs will eat you!
joobb replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 02:25 pm
It's important to incentivize people to NOT drive for those that don't need to. If it's more congested maybe the guy who drives alone for a 20 block commute to work will carpool or bike.

Just because you live in a fancy place doesn't mean you're above riding a bike. Look at Holland.

We need to make the city more bike friendly and less car friendly as we move into a future where population density grows and inner city pollution intensifies.
urbano / June 5, 2012 at 02:31 pm
been walking, cycling, and TTCing down QQ for 8 years now... between bay and spadina one lane both east and westbound is used for idling cabs, delivery trucks, or emergency starbucks parking. i don't think removing those lanes will cause any traffic delays at all. excellent changes all long overdue.
Typical Toronto car driver / June 5, 2012 at 02:47 pm
No! This can't happen! I must not be inconvenienced in any way while exercising my God-given right to drive!! I can't allow city planners to prevent me from driving anywhere and everywhere I want at any time!!
kiwano replying to a comment from billy / June 5, 2012 at 03:25 pm
Yep, they're moving the streetcar tracks. If you've been around those tracks at all in the past few years (including on a streetcar going over them) it'd be painfully obvious to you that the tracks and railbed are overdue for replacement (because they're old, and stuff wears out).

Basically, the existing tracks already have to be ripped out and new ones laid, so the fact that this work has to happen anyway was taken as an opportunity to decide if we want to make any changes to the street that involve moving the tracks. That opportunity took the form of the Environment Assessment for the project, and the decision ultimately reached was that we do indeed want to move the tracks (and make these other improvements).
The other Simon replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 03:37 pm
Ha, right. Queens Quay is already a "Take Shelter" level nightmare. Nobody should ever use Queens Quay to get anywhere by car. Nobody with any common sense attempts it.

If you're on a bike, on a streetcar, or on a pair of roller-blades that lead up to inappropriate hotpants, you're all good.

Cars? No, never Queens Quay.
Simon replying to a comment from The other Simon / June 5, 2012 at 03:47 pm
That doesn't make any sense. Each condo building down there has parking. So do all of the office towers. Ditto for the Standard parking garage off of QQ and Simcoe, and the newly changed above-ground parking next to Harbourfront Centre is now a multi-level below-ground structure. For a neighbourhood that seems to be going out of its way to provide parking, it is making it impossible to actually get in and out of the area with a car. Doesn't anyone else see the inherent contradiction in this??
kiwano replying to a comment from Simon / June 5, 2012 at 03:48 pm
Simon, are you speaking up on behalf of the people trying to drive along QQ, or the people whose constant stream of illegal parking makes the first group's task so difficult?

In the case of people parking illegally, they can park their cars in proper parking spaces like they've been expected to all along (Thankfuly, the new configuration should strip them of any delusions they might have about what a menace they are to the flow of traffic; just because the 2 current lanes can merge into a single lane to get around them, it doesn't make their parking habits ok). To make it even easier for them to adapt, the plans even include the addition of some legal on-street parking on QQ (or at least they did the last I saw them).

If it's the people actually driving down the road, then without the idiots creating a bunch of extra merge situations (and associated stop-and-go ugliness) by parking in a lane that's not actually carrying appreciable amounts of traffic (or other idiots trying to use the space between illegally parked cars to try and do a little passing on the right), they're probably going to make better time.

If you'd gone to an EA and actually listened, you'd have heard that the traffic engineers have already modeled traffic flow in both configurations, and the new one doesn't slow the cars down.
iSkyscraper / June 5, 2012 at 04:29 pm
In your face, Rob F**king Ford!

The improvements are overdue (I mean, freaking Des Moines has better streetscapes than we-love-concrete-Toronto), but awesome.

BillyO / June 5, 2012 at 05:01 pm
Another stellar project by WaterfrontTO. Slowly but surely we are getting there. Given the bang up job they did with Sugar Beach/Sherborne Common this should be another success.
marc / June 5, 2012 at 05:14 pm
Looks nice but it won't be finished by 2015.
jay / June 5, 2012 at 05:47 pm
Reducing Queens Quay from 2 lanes each way to 1 lane each way is completely utter FAIL. This area is already badly congested. To make it even worse is very irresponsible. I like these plans except for the reduced road capacity which in my view, makes the whole plan a failure.
Hendrix / June 5, 2012 at 05:55 pm
As someone moving into a Harbourfront condo in July, and who owns two cars, I think this change to Queens Quay is awesome. I love the area but the sidewalks on both sides of QQ are in bad shape and you always have to walk single file just to get past people coming the other way. With the new parking garage by the power plant, there will be lots of parking for anyone looking to make a quick stop. And the bike path is long overdue. I'll be loving that ability to easily ride over to the Ex now on the trail. This should also increase the value of my condo. Good work Waterfront Toronto.
ha replying to a comment from BR / June 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm
JR / June 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm
It seems like doomsday is predicted anytime a road configuration is changed, even when it isn't a particularly important street. You know what you can do if you live on Queen's Quay and your car is no longer able to speed around? Move. Toronto's planning process is exhaustingly consultative, and apparently the Queens Quay Expressway point of view didn't have many adherents. I think this plan is a big win for everyone. Residents of Toronto get a gorgeous addition to the waterfront, property values rise from this attractive amenity, and Toronto favors livability over banal concerns about adding thirty seconds to one dude's commute for once.
Simon Sez / June 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm
I lived on QQ and Lower Simcoe for 3 yrs and never owned a car, but I did take a lot of cabs, had friends or family from elsewhere in the GTA visit and sometimes rented cars to get stuff done, so I can see things from both Simon's point of view (as a resident) and other commenters' points of view, as citizens of Toronto.

First, I disagree with Simon's contention about buying decisions. If you buy a condo on QQ, it's because you want to live downtown, on the waterfront. The waterfront belongs to every Torontonian, even if we've done an historically poor job of recognizing this, and it is in the interest of QQ condo residents that the Toronto waterfront is celebrated by the entire city.

However, as a former resident, I also recognize that it can be very frustrating living on QQ, because of the traffic issues. The proposed changes may exacerbate these frustrations. What commenters may not understand is that most of the congestion on QQ does not arise from area resident, but rather from visitors from elsewhere in the GTA coming to the Rogers Centre or ACC, Harbourfront or the islands (in the summer). Events at these venues attract thousands, who clog arterial roads and public transit systems, thus making it very difficult for area residents to get in or out of their homes during peak periods by any means other than personal hovercars. It's therefore glib and unhelpful to simply point fingers at area residents and recommend they get rid of their cars - that's not going to solve anything.
Quark replying to a comment from joobb / June 6, 2012 at 02:33 am
The last statement assumes that hydrogen cars and electric cars won't become commonplace any time in the future-I think that they will, and that pollution won't be that bad as a result. This doesn't mean that what's being done here isn't needed, though; it is needed.
Antisthenes replying to a comment from Simon / June 6, 2012 at 02:56 am
Haven't you car fetishist ever traveled to a city that doesn't blow?
Antisthenes replying to a comment from Quark / June 6, 2012 at 03:05 am
'Quark', you're sniffing fumes if you think hydrogen or electric cars will solve all our problems. Repeat the following bullet-points until you get it:
- hydrogen is a battery
- electric or hydrogen batteries need energy
- energy comes from burning carbon fuels or nukes, beyond the base load that is not enough for our non-transportation needs
- coal/gas/oil plants make carbon pollution
- nuclear sites/waste will be polluted far longer than human civilization has lasted
- adequate solar/wind... is a long way off
- fusion further
- no money for thorium, since it's not weaponable
- much of a car's pollution is made during manufacture
- even if cars made no pollution and planted flowers, they'd still clutter up our ugly N.American cities
lol replying to a comment from jay / June 6, 2012 at 03:59 am
Good then less people will drive on it…!!!! Your missing the hole point the idea is to reduce capacity, not build giant highways downtown like the POS Gardner
Quark replying to a comment from Antisthenes / June 6, 2012 at 04:06 am
I'm not the one sniffing fumes, asswipe, YOU are, especially about nuclear power. I'm tired of your (and everybody else's) environmental extremism on these matters, and wish that you would TRY to read about the advances that science is trying to make in electric power generation and nuclear power.

FYI, here's some info about a new hydrogen car that Honda is building, as well as the infrastructure needed for it: (Honda Introduces Solar Hydrogen Station on Saitama Prefectural Office Grounds FCX Clarity Used in Electric Vehicle Testing Program to Serve as Mobile Electric Generator) (Honda joins Clean Energy Partnership with 2 FCX Clarity vehicles)

Also, I think that you and everybody else here, should be taking a look at this website and getting a REAL education about science, rather than the truthiness you all love to cling on to:
trixie / June 6, 2012 at 08:48 am
Why bother with all the revite - people ride their bikes on the sidewalks now - pedestrians walk or run on the streets and taxi cabs and 905ers race through neighbours streets to avoid gridlock on the lakeshore - in other words adding designated lanes without enforcing city bylaws is just a waste for everyone.
Alex / June 6, 2012 at 10:45 am
Looks nice. I don't think removing lanes will change traffic at all, since it's already basically one lane each way due to all the illegal parking. They definitely need more sidewalk space there, there is so much stuff to do down there now people need to get around. I hope the new trees they plant survive long enough to end up looking like the ones in the pictures, on a hot day people need some shade.
Toby Buckets / June 6, 2012 at 11:21 am
The future is compact cities with live / work / play infrastructure walking distance from one another. Cars are noisy, dangerous and take up valuable space. Traffic jams of hundreds of single occupant vehicles are a 20th century waste of money the future will happily shrug off.
Robyn / June 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm
I notice all the pedestrian promenades in the pictures are brick or cobble. Have we not learned this lesson yet? Brick with Toronto's winters. Surely there's a way to make them look nice without creating a maintenance nightmare / safety hazard.
jack / June 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm
Nice pictures with all whites hanging around.
Joey Jojo Junior replying to a comment from jack / June 6, 2012 at 04:12 pm
Someone always complains about the racial makeup of the pedestrian renderings. If you look closely, there are some persons of colour in there.

Although, some of them have shades on, so it's hard to tell.

I think this warrants further investigation.
Alex replying to a comment from jack / June 6, 2012 at 05:03 pm
When has there ever been a ghost that wasn't white?

I'm sure the mock-up would be much better if they used those corporate stock photos where every group has to have at least one girl, guy, young person, old person, and everyone has to be a different colour. The world is a beautiful rainbow! Plus everyone is laughing and having a wonderful time at a meeting!

What's with the juggler in one of the photos? Do they have juggling and cool stuff at harbourfront?
Iby Haidari / June 6, 2012 at 09:26 pm
Its somewhat pathetic
It also most possibly will not happen
Look at Boston, Montreal, Chicago, thats fun.
Antisthenes replying to a comment from Quark / June 7, 2012 at 02:31 am
'CAPS LOCK': sign of a weak argument.
Akshay / June 7, 2012 at 10:05 am
For everyone speaking on behalf of us Queen Quay residents, thank you in advance. Coming from someone that lives on the street though reducing the lanes would be very frustrating because often times Lake Shore and the Gardiner are backed up and it makes no sense for me to use if I am trying to get from Bay to Spadina as I often do. The planting of additional trees and pedestrian pathways on the south side would be a welcome addition but needs to be balanced with the reality that people need freedom of mobility. I also think this plan really doesn't do much to add to the vitality of the harbourfront in any meaningful way.
Will / June 7, 2012 at 08:51 pm
Somehow I can't muster up any sympathy for QQ residents who worry about traffic. Guess what? Every major street in downtown Toronto has traffic problems, but nobody is coming to my neighbourhood with buckets full of cash, ready to transform my street into a beautiful boulevard.
Josh / June 7, 2012 at 09:10 pm
Ahhh Man 2015 I'm Prepared!! I'm gonna open op a mustard factory there, where we specialize in different mustards but you come to buy a pretzel, a sausage, a sandwich all with a fresh produced mustard of all different varieties!
Check me 2015!
JR's Mustard Emporium
GABE replying to a comment from Josh / June 7, 2012 at 09:48 pm
I'll take a corn beef with munster on rye for sure!
Aaron replying to a comment from Antisthenes / June 7, 2012 at 09:49 pm
LOOKING AT FONT CASE SIZES sign of a week argument - give it up
Cyd / June 9, 2012 at 12:12 am
This is long overdue. I just rode my bike from High Park to the Beaches and back today and the section along Queen's Quay was scarier than the new roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland. The pavement sucks, the cars parked on the right and/or in the bike lanes were dangerous and the traffic was horrendous. I can't wait for these changes!
Sam / June 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm
I don't know about you guys but I'm really looking forward to JR's Mustard Emporium!
Zach Swan replying to a comment from Robyn / June 10, 2012 at 08:35 pm
Brick or other unsmooth walking surfaces don't work for more reasons than just winter. The bicycle path in the Beaches which was once a great place to take a bike ride or go for a rollerblade is practical unusable for these purposes now. The bike path is jammed with pedestrians and stroller pushers (who are either just idiots risking the safety of their children, or (logically) don't go for the roughness of the adjacent boardwalk. Be forewarned: this is what will happen to this lovely planned bikepath along QQ. All the bike traffic will have to either dodge and weave around baby carriages moving 1/30th of their speed or move over onto the newly halved roadway. I'm cool with the narrower road - I think in this case, the end justifies the means, but someone needs to address the usability of one of the main selling points in the planning stage
Quark replying to a comment from Antisthenes / June 11, 2012 at 08:22 pm
In this case, the caps lock is the sign of me emphasizing my point, and nothing else. There are no ways to use HTML code here anymore, and that's what I did.
Thinker replying to a comment from Mark / June 14, 2012 at 09:47 pm
Haha well said Mark. Simon you're an idiot. QQ is not the place to go fast anyway, even if there were 5 lanes of traffic! It's a multi-purpose street, go back to 1970's America
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