Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

Case Study: Queens Quay; Toronto, Canada

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Population: 2.6 million
Metro: 5.9 million
Right-of-Way: 34 m
Context: Mixed-Use
Cost: 128.9 million CAD(90 million USD)
Funding: Public (municipal, provincial, and federal governments)
Max. Speed: 40 km/h on street; 20 km/h on Martin Goodman Trail


The revitalization of Queens Quay is one of the largest coordinated street reconstruction projects in Toronto, transforming 1.7 kilometers of the city’s main waterfront street into a showpiece waterfront boulevard.

The roadway was reduced from four lanes of vehicular traffic to two, shifting east-west traffic to the north side of the street. Dedicated turning lanes, sophisticated signal timing, and new loading bays keep traffic flowing along the north side.

Free of vehicular traffic, the south side of Queens Quay became a generous pedestrian promenade with a double row of trees and a new off-street cycle track, filling in a gap on the existing Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail.

The Toronto Transit Corporation’s streetcar right-of-way runs along the centre of the street. New north-side sidewalks encourage more retail activity. The project is also a complete rebuild ofthe street’s subsurface infrastructure. New and upgraded municipal storm and sanitary sewers were designed to last a generation.

Waterfront Toronto coordinated with several utility companies and public agencies (Toronto Water, Toronto Transit Corporation) and took advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their infrastructure within the construction zone.



  • Rebalance the street, giving each mode of transportation its fair share.
  • Create a more welcoming, pleasant main waterfront boulevard with access to the water’s edge.
  • Attract new business and promote tourism.


Public Agencies
Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, City of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto Hydro,Toronto Water, Enbridge, Bell Canada, Rogers, Cogeco, and Allstream

Citizen Associations
Waterfront Toronto engaged with local residents and businesses throughout the design and construction process.

Designers and Engineers
West 8, DTAH, BA Group Municipal Services, ARUP, MMM Group, and James Urban and Associates

Lessons Learned

Public consultation was a hallmark of this project from its very beginning. Waterfront Toronto held almost 100 public meetings and stakeholder-consultation meetings over the course of this project.

As construction on linear projects in dense urban neighborhoods is always difficult, Waterfront Toronto worked closely with stakeholders during construction to keep a two-way line of communication open. This
effort included monthly meetings with community representatives and weekly construction notices. Managing the needs and schedules of multiple stakeholders and utilities required an unusually high level of inter-agency coordination.

Protecting landscaping features while still making space for all necessary utilities proved a difficult but worthwhile exercise. When conflicts arose over the location of underground infrastructure and services, Waterfront Toronto developed creative solutions to ensure that both public realm and essential utilities could coexist.

Key Elements

Creation of a pedestrian promenade along the waterfront.

Creation of a two-way, off-street cycle track.

New street furniture installed.

New trees planted.

Taxi and loading bays accommodated.

Widened sidewalks.

Project Timeline

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.