Measuring Main Streets

West Queen West

Toronto, Ontario


West Queen West is the segment of a prominent arterial road through the southern parts of the city of Toronto, specifically the part of the street between Dufferin in the west and Bathurst in the east. To its immediate west is the neighbourhood of Parkdale, to its south a mix of high-density neighbourhoods such as Liberty Village and Niagara, to the east the street leads into the entertainment district and downtown, and to the north a patchwork of lower-rise residential neighbourhoods.

The street has served as a historic westbound route in and out of Toronto’s core and has been urbanized since at least the 1850s. Historically a working-class district close to factory jobs, as the economic profile of Toronto has shifted to services and knowledge work so has West Queen West’s residential population.

Business Density
Low High
West Queen West BIA

Built Form

Most of the buildings along the street consists of mixed-use commercial and residential structures, with small-scale retail directly fronting a sidewalk. Few properties have a significant setback from their roadway and heights are limited largely to a maximum of three storeys directly on the road — though taller structures do exist immediately to the south of the street, especially in its western segment. Many properties along Queen Street have alley access to the north and south. There is also a small strip mall in the extreme western segment of the street.

The street is served by multiple transit routes, most prominently a TTC streetcar route. While there is not bike infrastructure on the street beyond parking, there are protected bike lanes on some parallel streets.

The most significant change in built-form along the route is the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which occupies a significant property between Shaw and White Squirrel on the south of the street. On this stretch, the north side largely maintains the prevalent form, but in recent years CAMH has built a number of eight to ten storey institutional and mixed-use buildings as well as extended the street grid from the north to the south.

West Queen West BIA
Green Spaces

Green Space %

Civic Infrastructure

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The most prominent example of civic infrastructure on the street is CAMH, occupying multiple blocks, employing and serving thousands of workers and patients. There are also a number of related medical services in the neighbourhood.

East of CAMH, Queen Street’s heart might be best found at Trinity Bellwoods Park, a 15.4 hectares green space. Within the park is a large, and popular, community centre, dog off-leash space and sports fields. The park has served as a community hub and gathering space in Toronto’s west end for years.

According to the Civic Infrastructure Index, West Queen West surpasses most other main street case studies. In terms of its civic opportunity, West Queen West ranks 6th out of 20 Toronto main streets and 9th out of 36 residential main streets.

Civic Infrastructure Mix (%)

Business Profile

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West Queen West is an established retail district, with many small to medium fashion stores along the street — with specific concentrations of casual wear, eye glasses, and shoes in different blocks. Other retail exists along the street, covering a vast range of items from bakeries to convenience stores to toy stores.

The services are relatively diverse, with a focus on restaurants — both formal, casual and fast food. No supermarket grocery store directly fronts the street on this stretch, but there are many located just off the street or on segments to the east and west.

There are a number of event venues, especially in the western segment of the street which often draw large crowds for concerns and other events.

West Queen West surpasses other Main Street case studies in terms of level of independence of businesses, ranking 6th out of 20 Toronto Main Streets and 10th out of 36 residential Main Streets.

In terms of business density, the street ranks 8th out of 20 main streets in the region and 13th out of 36 residential main streets.

Business Mix (%)

Employment Profile

Employment along the street is largely distributed across hundreds of small businesses, with some businesses employing more. CAMH is a sizeable employer along the street — but most large employers are concentrated just east, in downtown, or south, in Liberty Village, of the street itself.

Overall, West Queen West has very high employment density. It ranks 3rd out of 20 Toronto Main Streets in terms of employment density and 1st out of 36 residential main streets.

Civic Infrastructure


There is a general split in the housing typology north and south of West Queen West. North of the street, the predominant housing form are smaller apartment buildings with less than five units and duplexes. This area also features single-family and detached homes. On the southern side of the street, high-rise condominium and apartment buildings dominate. There are exceptions to this and numerous examples of mid-rise apartment buildings throughout the street. In general, however, the area on and surrounding West Queen West is dominated by high-rise apartments.

Generally, the population density is high for Canada and the GTA throughout the area, though south of the street is much denser with increased construction in the last 20 years. In contrast, the neighbourhoods north of the street have seen stable or declining populations in the same period as two-to-three unit buildings are converted into single-family houses.

Housing Construction Year (%)

Housing Type (%)

Local Characteristics

On average, both West Queen West and the neighbourhoods surrounding the street are characterized by small households of approximately one-person. The neighbourhoods surrounding West Queen West are more highly educated and less likely to be a first-generation immigrant than the regional average. These areas also include a relatively diverse mix of average ages, with averages in the neighbourhoods surrounding West Queen West ranging from around 30 years old all the way to approximately 80 years old. Additionally, residents of West Queen West and the surrounding areas are more likely to be both in the upper quintile of income and more likely to be in the bottom decile of income — indicating a polarized income distribution with limited representation of middle income households.


2019 2020 2021 2022

West Queen West does draw visitors from throughout the Greater Toronto Area, but the vast majority of visits come from local residents within Toronto. Additionally, the radius from where visitors originated from has decreased between 2019 and 2022, indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the distance residents were willing to travel to visit West Queen West. Additionally, while the level of visits relative to 2019 currently hovers just over 80 percent, indicating relatively strong visitor recovery from the pandemic, the number of visitors has decreased significantly. This decrease in visitors is seen most prominently with infrequent visitors.

Generally, visitor traffic is heaviest on Fridays and Saturdays and in the late afternoon or evening which highlights the importance of West Queen West as a commercial street – as most visits occur outside of normal business hours.

In terms of overall street resilience and visitor recovery, West Queen West trails behind other main street case studies. It ranks 17th out of 20 in visitor resiliency in the region and 35th out of 36 residential main streets.

Number of Daily Visits from Visitor Home Location
0 58400

Level of Visits % (Relative to 2019)

Visit Count by Type of Visitor

Visits (%) by Time of Day

Visits (%) by Day of Week

West Queen West

Toronto, Ontario