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Queens Quay: Getting Ready for 2015

Nov 7, 2014

People stroll along a completed section of Queens Quay's new promenade near the Simcoe WaveDeck

Next to the Simcoe WaveDeck, pedestrians stroll along a newly-opened section of granite mosaic promenade.

By Samantha Gileno

There has been a noticeable change on Queens Quay over the last couple of months. The streetcars are back in service. Newly opened stretches of granite promenade hint at how beautiful the new street will be. Planning is even getting underway for an official opening celebration to coincide with the 2015 Redpath Waterfront Festival in June.

As we approach our last winter of construction on Queens Quay, it’s helpful to remember how far we’ve come. This is a big and complicated project. Over the last two years, most of Queens Quay’s aging underground infrastructure has been expanded or rebuilt. Upgrading all of those utilities is the most labour-intensive and complex part of the project.

Waterfront construction is always complicated – but on Queens Quay it’s been especially so. The work has been made more challenging by the fact that the project is entirely on landfill (or reclaimed land), as everything south of Front Street used to be in Lake Ontario. Here are just a few of the issues we’ve faced and overcome:

  • Inaccurate as-built drawings that did not identify the location, or – in some cases – the existence of underground pipes and utilities. This resulted in an unprecedented number of conflicts and a ripple effect on the construction site.  Each time a piece of infrastructure was uncovered where it wasn’t supposed to be, construction had to stop to allow for investigation, additional design and engineering work.
  • More extensive dewatering (removing water from the soil) was required to address abnormally high water levels – including the significant flood on July 9, 2013 – and very poor soil conditions.
  • Several locations where existing water mains essentially fell apart, stopping work, and, in some cases, flooding adjacent excavations.
  • Additional works Waterfront Toronto was requested to do on behalf of third-parties (TTC, Toronto Water and others) throughout the project.
  • Delays in underground work meant we had to change our construction staging and traffic management plans resulting in more temporary signals, more paid duty police officers and more frequent moving of traffic barriers and fencing.
  • Polar vortex weather added complexity, requiring tents and heaters to keep the project on schedule.

To get an even more visual sense of some of the above-mentioned challenges, check out a gallery of Queens Quay construction photos that illustrates some of the many complications we encountered.

This short animated video explains just how complicated the Queens Quay Revitalization project is by peeling back the pavement to show you all the hard-to-see work that happens underground.

We can’t thank the community enough for their support and patience during this project. Construction is never fun or easy. We know that. We’ve worked hard to keep our commitment to complete the project on time.  We look forward to celebrating alongside you when our new waterfront boulevard opens In June 2015.


A rendering showing what Queens Quay West will look like when complete.

Queens Quay is one of Toronto’s most important streets and public spaces. It is a window onto the city and a unique asset in our city.

It will soon be one of Toronto’s most important tourist destinations and economic driver. It will be friendlier to, and safer for, pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. It will be a more welcoming, more beautiful and more enjoyable space for residents and visitors alike. And it’s coming soon!

For regular updates, visit our Constructing Queens Quay webpage where you can see the latest information and sign up for weekly construction updates by email. 

post contributor

  • Samantha Gileno

    Samantha Gileno previously worked at Waterfront Toronto as a communications manager who specialized in all things related to the Central Waterfront and East Bayfront communities.