As reported in The Star, it has been 30 years since David Crombie, Toronto’s former mayor, delivered his Royal Commission Report on the Future of Toronto’s Waterfront. “Toronto was born on the waterfront,” Crombie wrote, and “the people of Toronto … understand the unique historic opportunity that the waterfront gives this metropolitan city.”
Waterfront revitalization faced challenges from the outset, as it contended with the pre-existing private development on the water’s edge, environmental contamination left from Toronto’s industrial heritage, as well as fragmented land ownership and competing political jurisdictions.
Faced with these challenges, governments saw an opportunity to reclaim Toronto’s shores as a place people could be proud of and enjoy. Waterfront Toronto was created to seize that opportunity and to fulfil the need for new ways of urban living, reflecting 21st century realities.
Opportunity has led to prosperity. Since its inception, Waterfront Toronto has helped generate over $10 billion in new private sector investment and created 26 hectares of new public spaces, including award-winning, iconic parks such as Canada’s Sugar Beach and Corktown Common.
It has helped create over 14,000 full-time years of employment, 5,000 new residential units, almost 600 affordable housing units, and 1.5 million square feet of commercial office space to date.
Throughout this success, Waterfront Toronto’s mandate has always centred on innovation. For over a decade, we have compelled our development partners to include more affordable housing, prioritize great spaces for people to enjoy, and introduce LEED standard environmentally sustainable buildings. That was our innovative step forward, today it is the industry standard.
While it has not received its fair share of attention, the Port Lands Flood Protection Project is one of the largest civil works projects being undertaken in North America today. When completed, it will rehabilitate unusable waterfront lands about the size of Toronto’s downtown core, transforming them forever.
The $1.25 billion project — jointly supported by all three levels of government — will provide the opportunity for a new revitalized waterfront community with more housing and jobs — jobs for today, and for the economy of the future — all while mitigating the impacts of extreme storms.
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