The revitalized Queen's Quay reopened Friday with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting after three years of renovations, road closures and cost overruns.
New promenades and benches, cycling pathways and other infrastructure were celebrated shortly after 6:00 p.m., when members of the public stretched a 650-metre ribbon from York Street to HTO Park to be cut. The ceremony also kicked off the Redpath Waterfront Festival.
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Finance Minister Joe Oliver was among the dignitaries in attendance. "The revitalization of Toronto's waterfront is proving to be an economic driver," he said.
Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray called Queen's Quay a "low-carbon, climate-friendly street."
"Finally!" local resident Avi D'Sousa said Friday. "It's been taking so long…and I know the businesses here had such a hard time."
Waterfront Toronto called the Queen's Quay revitalization one of the agency's "most important and transformative projects."
"This is not an arterial route," Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell said Friday. "This is a local road and we really wanted to increase its pedestrian use. That's why we widened the promenade on the south side."
The street has been re-aligned as a two-way street with dedicated turn lanes and lay-bys added.
Not all aspects of the project are finished. Final touches will be completed next year.
Some local business owners said Friday that they would not have been able to survive another year of construction.
"There were several people who left because of the noise," said Andrea McEnirney of Williams Fresh Café.
"But it's open now."
The revitalization has been controversial, with the budget ballooning from $93.2 million in 2011 to about $130 million.
Waterfront Toronto said it encountered "a series of unforeseeable obstacles and issues" with construction starting in December 2013, adding new expenses.
During the digging up of the roadway, Waterfront construction crews have encountered more than 100 different unexpected finds, such as:
- Unidentified pipes.
- Abandoned dockwalls.
- Unconnected storm sewer pipes.
- Abandoned manholes.
- Conflicts with Hydro infrastructure.
- Water main failure.