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Democracy is messy; just take a look at the new Queens Quay. The recently-opened stretch between Bay and Spadina isn’t just the best new street in Toronto, it’s the most democratic.
Perhaps for the first time, the city has built a thoroughfare for everyone. That means pedestrians, cyclists, skate boarders, roller bladers, babies in strollers, transit passengers, wheelchair users and, yes, drivers.
It will take some getting used to.
Under the rigidly enforced hegemony of the car, the streets of Toronto are a no-go-zone to anyone not enclosed in several tonnes of speeding steel and plastic. The new Queens Quay says otherwise. It argues that the city is a place for all. It upends the conventional hierarchy and returns this critical part of the public realm to the people.
In Toronto, that makes it a radical intervention. It strikes at the heart of a city that measures its success by vehicular congestion rates. And yet the mayor himself showed up for the celebration Friday night to smile and bask in the glow of a rare display of civic enlightenment. That would be the same John Tory (open John Tory’s policard) whose plan to expand the Gardiner Expressway will set the city back decades. The same John Tory who appointed his deputy, Denzil Minnan-Wong (open Denzil Minnan-Wong’s policard), to the board of Waterfront Toronto simply to block its progress whenever possible. […]