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The Boulevard Makes its Comeback Along Toronto’s Waterfront

“Despite long ago having fallen from favour among North American city planners and traffic engineers, the multi-lane, multi-use, tree-lined avenue will soon return to our fair burg,” writes Christopher Hume.
November 24, 2012, 11am PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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Thanks to Waterfront Toronto, the tripartite agency responsible for the transformation of Queens Quay, “[w]hat’s now a messy and dysfunctional downtown thoroughfare will become an elegant street shared equally by cars, public transit, pedestrians, cyclists — and trees,” reports Hume. The project has been in the pipeline for years, but is finally breaking ground and will be under-construction for at least two years. “From a larger civic perspective, the transformation is also a milestone” asserts Hume, stating that “[s]ince the 1930s, traffic engineers have avoided boulevards because they are thought to be at odds with their preferred 'functional' approach.”

Dutch landscape architect, Adriaan Geuze, who’s firm West 8 won the international redesign competition for Queens Quay in 2006, will transform what he refers to as “the waterfront boulevard” in Toronto, from an "dangerous" place full of potential and in dire need of improvement, to one that is still bustling, but friendlier for all users. “In North America,” Geuze says, “people are totally dependent on the car. So they’re used to the car being prioritized. We’re not against cars, but we do want to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists. We want transit to be totally integrated. We want pedestrians to hang around. We have to live together. These things should be celebrated.”

“Though Queens Quay won't become a boulevard in the classic sense, it will look and act like a boulevard. There will be two traffic lanes, down from four, and the remaining space will be given to bicycles, streetcars, walkways and several rows of trees.” writes Hume. He lauds Toronto for not shying away from complexity in its land use policies, but instead embracing it, something he sees as critical as thc city continues to grow.

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Published on Friday, November 16, 2012 in The Star
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