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Toronto, This Is Your Waterfront

Feb 7, 2017

IMAGE: A man and a woman sit on a grassy hill, looking over the Toronto skyline. The man points to something in the sky.

We’re helping to reconnect Torontonians with Lake Ontario by building new communities, parks and civic spaces at the water’s edge.

By: Christopher McKinnon

For more than a decade, Waterfront Toronto has been working diligently to make Toronto’s post-industrial waterfront a place for people. We’ve already completed more than 20 new and improved parks and public spaces, essential infrastructure to protect the city’s downtown – including the Financial District – from catastrophic flooding, and new neighbourhoods like the West Don Lands. Have you been out to explore our new waterfront?

Old parking lots and abandoned or contaminated lands have been reimagined as dynamic new spaces for people. From cotton candy pink umbrellas and sugary white sand at Canada’s Sugar Beach to the chirping crickets and frogs of Corktown Common’s wetland, many Torontonians have fallen in love with our new parks. Visitors and residents alike have taken to strolling the more than 8 kilometres of new water’s edge promenade and trails. New plazas and public spaces at Harbourfront Centre now stretch to the water’s edge. Cyclists and rollerbladers are gliding along the length of the Martin Goodman Trail from Humber Bay to the Port Lands. Tens of thousands have now witnessed first-hand the dramatic transformation of Queens Quay.

Many Torontonians have been reconnecting with their waterfront, but now we want even more people to take notice.

This week, we released a new video that showcases Toronto’s waterfront like you’ve never seen it before. Watch it now on YouTube:

At the heart of the video are the values we embrace as the stewards of Toronto’s waterfront revitalization. From planning and development, to designing and constructing, the transformation of the city’s former industrial waterfront into new communities and public spaces is more exciting than ever. When we started our work in 2001, our city’s landscape was very different. Now, more than fifteen years later, our mission remains the same:

Building new waterfront neighbourhoods that contribute to making Toronto a happier, healthier and more prosperous place for all of us.

We’ve come a long way, but we’re not finished yet.

Today, we’re facing new challenges: Toronto is the fastest growing large metropolitan area in North America; the downtown core is adding more jobs and residents at a staggering rate, and the city is expanding towards the eastern waterfront. We face a backlog of critical urban infrastructure and government funding remains constrained. New technologies are changing the way that we live and work, but securing affordable housing is still an enormous challenge for so many of our fellow Torontonians. We urgently need to find ways to combat climate change. Gridlock and overtaxed public transit system are making it more difficult just to get around our bustling city.

Over the next decade, we will stay true to our values, while also tackling these new challenges. We will go even further to redefine Toronto and remind us that we are a waterfront city. For a snapshot of what is to come, flip through our newly released 2017/18 Corporate Plan (1.8MB download). Major projects on the horizon include:

A new vision for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park

Every year, 1.34 million residents and visitors pass through the Ferry Terminal on their way to the Toronto Islands. This space – the gateway to one of Toronto’s most cherished places – can and should become an iconic symbol for Toronto and the entire waterfront. We will work to deliver on our vision to turn the ferry terminal into a place as special as the Islands themselves.

Flood protection to enable Port Lands revitalization

Just to the east of downtown, Toronto’s Port Lands are a vast and underutilized area that awaits revitalization. Roughly the size of two High Parks, the Port Lands sit in the Don River’s flood plain, just steps from our growing downtown – the region’s economic engine. Waterfront Toronto’s plan to flood protect the Port Lands and unlock its immense potential will create new communities, parks and public spaces.

Showcasing advanced cleantech and sustainable approaches to development

Located on the north side of Queens Quay East, west of Parliament Street, Quayside will be a demonstration project that establishes a precedent-setting waterfront community. It will be on the leading edge of global best practices in the areas of design and sustainable city building. We will establish Quayside as a globally significant mixed-use project that showcases advanced technology and approaches that encourage the transformation of the real estate market towards climate-positive development.

Want to learn more? Read Waterfront Toronto’s full 2017/18 Corporate Plan:



post contributor

  • Christopher McKinnon

    Christopher McKinnon was previously a communications and public engagement Manager at Waterfront Toronto. He’s passionate about art, cycling in the city, public transit and building really amazing parks.