Urban Greenspace

trees at sugar beachTrees play a central role in waterfront revitalization projects. Not only do they provide shade and habitat, help clean the air, and reduce stormwater runoff, they also beautify our public spaces. To realize these benefits, we are planting a large number of trees in our new waterfront communities, streets, and parks.

Guided by our Sustainability Framework, our waterfront will become an urban forest that maximizes the diversity of the waterfront ecosystem by avoiding monocultures, maximizing the tree canopy and providing wind and shade protection. Mature trees will define our waterfront and restore the natural beauty of our shoreline.

Planting Trees

Waterfront Toronto follows best practice principles for planting healthy trees across all of our projects. We enhance tree environments by positioning trees carefully, using appropriate soil, and enabling good root growth through new technologies. We also save existing trees wherever possible and make informed choices when planting new trees. For example, we choose native plant species because they generally require much less water to thrive and do not introduce the risk of ecosystem disruption.  

We have planted 3,685 trees and expect to plant many more by the end of our revitalization mandate.

Number of Trees planted and benefits of trees

Growth Rate of Trees

Growing trees to maturity in urban environments is difficult. New trees face many challenges including damage due to exposure, pollution and salt from winter road maintenance. While many of these issues can be overcome with appropriate species selection, research shows that the most taxing issue for all trees in the urban environment is soil compaction.

image of soil cells

Waterfront Toronto is using soil cell technology to ensure that trees have an adequate amount of soil for healthy root growth. Soil cells are comprised of a tiered web of rigid boxes designed to house an average of 30 cubic metres of soil per tree. These reinforced cells provide support for the soil so it won't compact under the weight of the pavement above. The system allows tree roots to spread and thrive resulting in healthier mature trees. 

As part of our commitment to creating a thriving tree canopy, we monitor the health of our trees.The table below shows the average diameter of trees (Maple, Willow, and Oak) at Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common when they were planted in 2010 and the average diameter of the trees five years later. 

Average tree growth in Sherbourne Common and Sugar Beach

quote from Andrew Sorbara, Chair of Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation

Waterfront Toronto is also working with the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation (TPTF), an independent, charitable foundation dedicated to creating and enhancing green spaces and recreational areas. Together, we will identify priority projects on the waterfront that would benefit from broader funding sources than are currently available to us. Through this relationship, the TPTF will secure funding and manage relationships with private sector partners and also provide an avenue for individuals to contribute to projects. 

Green Roofs

Green roofs offer a wide range of benefits such as reducing the urban heat island effect, minimizing stormwater run-off, and improving air quality and building energy efficiency. To capitalize on these benefits, Waterfront Toronto requires all development partners to install a green roof for 60%1 of available roof space, or the percentage required by the City of Toronto Green Roof Bylaw, whichever is greater. In addition, all low sloped roofs must be able to accommodate the loads that would be imposed by an intensive green roof. This ensures that it will be possible to install a more substantial green roof in the future without undertaking major structural modifications.

As of June 2015, buildings in the designated waterfront area that are complete, under construction, or in the design phase have achieved the following average green roof coverage:

average green roof coverage

Waterfront Parks

Waterfront parks provide habitat and contribute to biodiversity, create new space for social interaction, foster a sense of place, and support active and healthy lifestyle. They are also key to connecting people to the lakefront and to our new waterfront communities. Given their importance, Waterfront Toronto has committed to reserving approximately 25% of the revitalization area to parks and open spaces. The following table shows the size of our completed parks in hectares:

chart of completed parks in size

1 60% green roof coverage requirement is from latest November 2014 version 2.1 MGBR. Previous versions required 50% coverage