Indirect Economic Impacts

Worker on a construction site with cranes

Waterfront Toronto has invested approximately $1.26 billion in the renewal of Toronto's waterfront to date. This investment has resulted in many indirect economic benefits, such as employment and government revenues. These benefits are meeting Waterfront Toronto's corporate objectives of promoting employment growth and attracting and leveraging private sector development.

An Economic Impact Analysis was completed in 2013 by Urban Metrics, which examined the broader economic and value impacts generated by Waterfront Toronto investments. This section describes the key findings of the study.


Between 2001 and 2012, approximately 16,200 full-time person years of employment have been generated by Waterfront Toronto's direct, indirect, and induced expenditures, with more than 71% in the City of Toronto. The majority of the jobs were created in the construction, finance, insurance, and real estate sectors, as well as the professional, scientific, and technical sectors. Jobs in the latter category are largely related to design, engineering and environmental services.

Advancing Private Sector Development

Urban Metrics conducted 11 detailed interviews with real estate developers and leasing professionals involved with projects in waterfront precincts and adjoining neighbourhoods. Most of the respondents indicated that much of the waterfront would not be developed or would be delayed well into the future if not for the planning and infrastructure development efforts by Waterfront Toronto.

The projects with the most impact on advancing development and attracting private sector investment were cited as the flood protection landform, infrastructure investment, and parks and public spaces. As a result, both the volume and value of construction investment has increased at a much faster rate in recent years along the waterfront than elsewhere in Toronto.

Property Value Increases

Urban Metrics reviewed historic changes in property values, which indicated that the rate at which resale prices have increased in recent years is higher on average in the central waterfront area relative to elsewhere in the City. For example, as of 2012, the average price of condominiums in the Harbourfront area was $512/ft2. Furthermore, the rate at which these prices increased was also higher than elsewhere in Toronto. Although this is likely driven by a variety of factors, waterfront revitalization is one of the major contributors.

Taxes and Development Charges Generated

When fully developed, it is estimated that the lands controlled by Waterfront Toronto in the East Bayfront and West Don Lands precincts will generate approximately $87 million in Development Charge revenues to the City to assist in funding future growth related capital infrastructure. Further, development of public lands in the East Bayfront and West Don Lands will generate approximately $33.5 million in municipal property taxes and some $17.9 million in education taxes annually. New development on private lands will contribute approximately $71.6 million in municipal taxes and $40 million in education taxes annually.

Port Lands Flood Protection and Related Infrastructure

To address the flood risk in the Port Lands, Waterfront Toronto and its partners have proposed to rebuild the mouth of the Don River. The proposal would create a new naturalized river mouth between the Ship Channel and the Keating Channel. By strategically investing in flood protection and infrastructure, the area's development potential will be unlocked for private sector investment.

Waterfront Toronto's direct investment in this flood protection project will generate approximately:

  • $859 million in economic value added to the Canadian economy;

  • 7,672 person years of employment;

  • $445 million in labour income; and

  • $327 million in revenues to all orders of government.

Future construction activity in the Port Lands as a result of this initial investment is expected to generate approximately:

  • $5.4 billion in value added to the Canadian economy;

  • 51,500 person years of employment;

  • $2.8 billion in labour income; and

  • $2.0 billion in revenues to all orders of government

  • $75 million in annual property tax revenues of which approximately $30 million are education taxes (at full build-out based on a $6.14 billion assessed value)

Source: "Waterfront Toronto 2.0 Economic Impacts of Planned Investments 2014-2023". Urban Metrics. July 2014. (currently being peer reviewed)