Queens Quay should become one of the world’s great streets, the Waterfront Toronto board reaffirmed this week — but how fast the money will start flowing to make it happen remains murky.

The board gave the go-ahead to chief executive John Campbell to negotiate a contract of $5 million to get design work going on plans to remake the street as the central spine of a renewed waterfront.

But who pays what share of the $192-million cost of transforming the stretch from Spadina Avenue to Parliament Street into a pedestrian-friendly avenue will depend on the pace of development.

The city has said it will earmark money raised from developing property it owns along the waterfront to pay for the redesign, which will give pedestrians and cyclists more space on Queens Quay while shrinking the roadway for cars and trucks.

But with the global recession, “development revenue has slowed down,” Mayor David Miller said after Wednesday’s board meeting. “I’m hopeful it won’t slow down this project, because we can at least start what we can in 2010, but that remains to be seen.”