On Friday, June 19th, excited crowds of Torontonians—including the UrbanToronto teamgathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the re-opening of Queens Quay, following three years of construction-laced anticipation.

Volunteers unfurling the ribbon, image by Craig White

The ceremony was marked by the cutting of a 650 metre-long ribbon, as spectators eagerly flocked to hold up a new piece of Toronto's civic history as it unfurled across the waterfront. Crowds of hundreds were joined by significant media presence, as the long-awaited project finally became a reality. Streetcars, cyclists, and runners, meanwhile, were already making use of the improved amenities (below), with the new Queens Quay immediately becoming a part of the urban fabric.

Crowds gather for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, image by Marcus Mitanis

Designed by Rotterdam's West 8, in partnership with Toronto's own DTAH, Waterfront Toronto's  new boulevard replaces previously narrow sidewalks with expansive, tree-lined granite walkways, while rebuilt streetcar tracks and an improved cycling trail provide better infrastructure for transit users. Car lanes, meanwhile, have been reduced from four to two, creating a less automobile-dominated—but more welcoming—urban environment.

A view from the ground, image by Edward Skira

The revamped, kilometre-long boulevard embodies a new approach to urban developmentone geared increasingly towards pedestrians, cyclists, and transit userswith the goal of developing streets into vital and dynamic urban spaces, rather than mere bridges between points A and B. For Toronto, this waterfront stretch of Queens Quay now asserts itself as the city's new face; an emblem of the new lifestyles and energies of the changing city beyond.

The ribbon is cut!, image by Marcus Mitanis

Hundreds of volunteers were on hand to oversee the grand ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by representatives from all three levels of government. In attendance were Mayor John Tory, Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, MPP Glen Murray, Councilor Joe Cressy (Ward 20), as well as Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell.

John Campbell speaks as (L-R) Joe Oliver, Glen Murray, John Tory, and Joe Cressy look on, image by Edward Skira

Queens Quay's re-opening marked an important milestone in the continued revitalization of Toronto's waterfront, as the vestiges of a post-industrial landscape are gradually transformed into a welcoming urban environment. With Queens Quay's grand walkways and new street furniture joining the recent wave of cafes, galleries, public spaces, and city parks along the lake, the waterfront is no longer just a space to pass through on the way to somewhere else. It is now a place to linger, and a place to live. 

The startling transformation is evidenced in Waterfront Toronto's construction time-lapse video (below)taken from Admiralty Point Condominiums at 251 Queens Quay West—which compresses three years of construction into 90 seconds:

Only days after opening, Queens Quay is already becoming a hotbed of activity, with cyclists and pedestrians taking advantage of the inviting new waterfront boulevard. A video taken along the re-vamped stretch—courtesy of UrbanToronto forum contributor Bryan Bonnici—offers a glimpse into Queens Quay's new life:

Want to see the renderings that the Queens Quay plan has been working towards? Click on our dataBase file for the project, linked below. Want to get in on the discussion? Choose the associated Forum thread link, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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