The last link of the Martin Goodman Trail, one of Toronto's most popular waterfront attractions, will be extended in the city's east end this summer.
Construction will begin in mid-July on the new section, also known as the Baselands Trail, Mayor John Tory announced.
This project is part of the city's 10-Year Cycling Infrastructure Network Plan, which was approved in 2016.
"This has taken more time than it should have," Tory said at a news conference in Tommy Thompson Park, near the future location of the trail.
This leg of the 22 kilometre multi-use trail that traverses Lake Ontario from Humber Bay Arch Bridge to the Rouge River was previously broken.
"It wasn't really of the quality that you see on the rest of the Martin Goodman Trail," said Tory.
For 34 years, this one-kilometre gap in the trail forced cyclists, runners and pedestrians onto a dangerous section of roadway near the eastern waterfront, explained Coun. Paula Fletcher.
Now the trail will extend along the south side of Unwin Avenue from Outer Harbour Marina Road to Leslie Street, where it will serve as a gateway to Tommy Thompson Park — part of a five-kilometre manmade peninsula known as Leslie Street Spit.
"It will mean a safe connection between Leslie Street, here at the Spit, and over to the discharge channel to meet Cherry Beach," said Fletcher, whose ward includes the Port Lands and the Leslie Street Spit.
Tory added this break along the eastern waterfront wasn't up to the same standards as seen on the rest of the Martin Goodman Trail.
The year-round trail also runs through one of the most significant migratory and nesting bird habitats in Toronto, according to a city report. It is home to 18 species of birds.
Tory vowed that construction of the trail would be done in a "very respectful way" and would have little environmental impact on the Baselands.
"People are going to be safe, but the environment is going to be safe," he said of the wetlands and the environmental sensitivity of the natural area.
Work on the Baselands Trail is slated to be finished by November.