Over the past few decades, our central waterfront has been de-industrialized, gentrified, and more or less transformed into a mixed-use, family friendly community. The area known today as Harbourfront replaced numerous industrial properties which were expropriated by the federal government in an effort to reclaim the waterfront as a recreational destination. Once the dust had settled, the central waterfront became a densely inhabited community, home to both families and businesses… but for all it had going, the waterfront still lacked a cohesive aesthetic. In 2001, WATERFRONToronto was formed by the governments of Canada, Ontario and the City of Toronto to oversee the goal of making the waterfront a livable, publicly accessible and sustainable place to live, work and play. In addition to the completed HTO Park as well as the Spadina, Simcoe and Rees WaveDecks on this stretch of Toronto Harbour, WATEFRONToronto has recently broken ground on their much anticipated Queens Quay West Revitalization.

This past Friday, Lisa Raitt, Dipika Damerla and Karen Stintz, representing the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments respectively, were joined by Mark Wilson, Chair of Waterfront Toronto, David Whitaker, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto as well as Kevin Currie, Chairman of The Waterfront BIA—all donned hardhats and pickaxes—to officially break ground on the Queens Quay West Revitalization. Lauded by all levels of government, the project is recognized as an essential component in integrating the central waterfront with the rest of the city.

Dipika Damerla, Karen Stintz, Mark Wilson, Lisa Raitt, Pam McConnell and Adam Vaughan (left to right) - Image by Jack Landau

The $110 million project is the result of a design competition held in 2006. The winning design, by Netherlands-based West 8 and Toronto-based Du Toit Allsopp Hillier (DTAH), will convert 1.7 kilometers of Queens Quay, stretching from Bay Street to just past Yo Yo Ma Lane (near Spadina Avenue), into a grand, tree-lined waterfront boulevard.  Below, we compare recent photos with renderings of the revitalized boulevard, providing a clear distinction between the Queens Quay of today versus the Queens Quay of the future.

Current north side of Queens Quay - Image courtesy of WATERFRONToronto

Revitalized north side of Queens Quay - Image courtesy of WATERFRONToronto

Current pedestrian promenade at Simcoe WaveDeck - Image courtesy of WATERFRONToronto

Future pedestrian promenade at Simcoe WaveDeck - Image courtesy of WATERFRONToronto

Current Aerial view of Queens Quay at Harbourfront Centre - Image courtesy of WATERFRONToronto

Future Aerial view of new roadway at Harbourfront Centre - Image courtesy of WATERFRONToronto

The revitalized Queens Quay Boulevard will carry two lanes of vehicular traffic with new and improved signal timing, a rebuilt right of way for the 509 and 510 streetcars, a new stretch of the Martin Goodman Trail, and most importantly - a pedestrian promenade paved in red and gray granite mosaic with a canopy provided by some 240 trees. Work on the project is scheduled to be completed for the Spring of 2015, in time for the summer 2015 Toronto Pan American Games.

If you would like to read more about the Queens Quay West Revitailzation project, please visit the dataBase entry linked below, or choose the associated Forum thread link to get in on the discussion.

Related Companies:  DeepRoot Green Infrastructure, DTAH, urbanMetrics inc., Waterfront Toronto, West 8