Waterfront Toronto

Location: Toronto (Ontario), Canada

Population: 6,196,731 [metropolitan area]

Climate: Continental

Duration: 2001-2025

Sector: Cross-cutting

Funding sources: Public sector

City networks: C40

Savings: 29% CO2 reduction has been estimated for the area;

Solutions: Waterfront Toronto consists of a highly integrated solution involving an innovative implementation;

Multiple benefits: This project has created 5,000 full-time jobs.

Waterfront Toronto is working to revitalize the lands by Lake Ontario, transforming past industrial sites into thriving neighbourhoods that support economic vitality and enhance quality of life [source].

It was established in 2001 by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto to unlock the social, cultural and economic potential of the waterfront. The decision to make Waterfront Toronto a corporation separate from government but informed and overseen by all three levels of government was deliberate [source].

Objective – To create a solid infrastructure that could bring economic and social benefits to the whole city.

Solutions – Several innovative solutions have been implemented focusing especially on: sustainable development, excellence in urban design, real estate development, and advanced technology infrastructure.

Concerning urban mobility, the area benefits from dedicated pedestrian and bike developments, as well as general traffic and mobility plans. Regarding sustainable district and the built environment, Minimum Green Building Requirements (MGBR) were developed to help achieve this objective. The requirements mandate high-performance buildings, smart technologies, and passive design, building upon the Canada Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. Waterfront Toronto requires a minimum of LEED Gold level under the MGBR. Finally, in terms of ICT infrastructure, Canada has set up its first open-access, ultra-high-speed broadband community network. Moreover, in partnership with IBM Canada and Element Blue LLC, a powerful cloud-based community platform has been established in order to use data to support smarter decision making for waterfront residents and businesses including decisions on a daily commute, energy and water consumption or health.

Funding – The three orders of government pledged $ 1.5 Bln (€ 1 Bln) as seed capital to help catalyse waterfront revitalization. By April 2015, 91% of the original $ 1.5 Bln in government funding has been fully invested in waterfront revitalization.

Innovation – Waterfront Toronto has a record of innovation when it comes to new neighbourhoods along the lake. Leading the way on sustainable design in the city, introducing green building standards that went on to win international awards. Creating the first design review panel in Toronto, gathering leading experts and city-builders to ensure that waterfront revitalization projects would work together to create beautiful, visually coherent neighbourhoods along the lake [source].

Success factors – 1) Meaningful public engagement. As waterfront neighbourhoods were planned, Waterfront Toronto engaged residents as active partners in imagining and realizing a waterfront that works for people. 2) Partnering with the private sector allowed a successful work with developers, engaging with employers, business groups and innovative service providers. The result is an economically vibrant waterfront that has attracted some of North America’s most respected developers and firms, and set new Canadian standards in areas ranging from broadband internet speeds to sustainable design and construction. 3) Waterfront Toronto came together to tackle big issues along the waterfront that only powerful collaboration across all three levels of government could solve. This tri-government entity has resolved the legacy issues and built momentum in the right direction, providing a thoughtful public framework for planning and invite vigorous involvement from the private sector and the community [source].

Significant outcomes:

  • Since Waterfront Toronto was established, a CO2 reduction of 29% has been estimated for the area. Energy and transport account for the greatest share of carbon reduction, followed by landfilled waste, materials and potable water use;
  • At least 50% of waste from construction or demolition projects has been diverted from landfill with a future planned target of 75%;
  • More than 4 million square feet of development along the waterfront [source].
  • From 2001 till 2019 – 5,000 full-time jobs of ongoing employment were created [source].

Synergies with local policies:

  • Ontario’s 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan is principally focused on the consumer while ensuring a reliable and innovative energy system. Emissions for Ontario’s electricity sector are forecast in 2017 to account for only about 2% of the province’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • Toronto Green Standard is Toronto’s sustainable design requirements for new private and city-owned development. One of the main priorities targets the reduction on energy use and GHG emissions from new buildings while making buildings more resilient to power disruptions, and encourage the use of renewable and district energy;
  • TransformTO is Toronto’s ambitious climate action strategy. It lays out a set of long-term, low-carbon goals and strategies to reduce local GHG emissions with the aim of reducing Toronto´s GHG emissions by 65% by 2030 (based on 1990 levels);
  • Toronto’s Resilience Strategy sets out a vision and actions to help Toronto survive, adapt and thrive in the face of any challenge, particularly climate change and growing inequities.

Political alignment:

Marketability: Regarding the replication potential of the solution, most guiding principles of Waterfront Toronto can be applicable in other large-cities and countries, where unused large city areas may be enhanced following similar integrated and technological-driven approaches. There are numerous examples of other waterfront revitalization projects around the world, but few of them reach comparable levels of cross integration

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Sector: Cross cutting

Country / Region: Canada

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Waterfront Toronto