Message from CEO

 Waterfront Toronto's CEO John CampbellIn 2001, Waterfront Toronto was given a 20-year mandate and $1.5 billion of seed capital to transform 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of underutilized brownfield lands into sustainable mixed-use communities. But our mandate is really about more than just this. In addition to revitalizing our waterfront - giving it back to the city - our objective is to make Toronto a better city, more economically competitive and prosperous for the long-term. In an era where talent and capital chooses where to locate, quality of life is a key factor in economic decisions. Waterfront Toronto is, in effect, leveraging an infrastructure project to deliver key economic, social and environmental benefits that enable Toronto to compete aggressively with other top tier global cities for investment, jobs and people. 

We have successfully delivered a large portion of this initial mandate. We have delivered beautifully designed mixed-use neighbourhoods and partnered with leading developers in the West Don Lands and East Bayfront. Toronto now has spectacular new public parks such as Corktown CommonSugar Beach and Sherbourne Common. We have improved public spaces such as the 1.7-kilometre redesigned Queens Quay, a new signature street that invites residents and visitors alike to our waterfront. In addition, public art installations have elevated the experience on our streets. Overall, our work has contributed significantly to the attractiveness, vitality and economic growth of the city. 

Strategic revitalization has resulted in momentum for realizing sustainable development, excellence in urban design, and leading technology infrastructure, founded in public policy objectives. We are reconnecting people with the waterfront and creating important economic, environmental, and social benefits. Toronto can be proud of the waterfront successes to date.

This is an exciting time to share a milestone update of our Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. As the President and CEO since 2003, I've had the pleasure of leading a dynamic and accomplished team of professionals dedicated to making Toronto's waterfront best-in-class. Throughout this time, and since our last report, many of our projects from our initial funding have moved from the planning and implementation phase to now being complete. It is immensely rewarding to see the impact of our work on the community and the growing recognition for our approach to revitalizing our waterfront.

We are pleased to present this report as an updated record of how we and our partners are meeting our greater social and environmental responsibilities, and how we are building more durable and beautiful spaces.

This report covers the period from 2001 to spring 2015 and has been prepared using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, an internationally accepted independent standard for reporting on sustainability performance. Our reporting is based on GRI's G4 Guidelines as well as the Construction and Real Estate Sector Disclosure, which covers key sector-specific issues. The content is based on a set of performance measures that align with the three areas of sustainability referred to as the "triple bottom line". The triple bottom line embraces an expanded set of standards for measuring success by reporting social and environmental performance, in addition to economic accomplishments.

From these themes, here are some of the results that we are particularly proud to include:

  • Four LEED® Gold buildings completed and several more under design and construction or under review by the Canada Green Building Council;
  • Over 3,600 trees planted;
  • 108,920 square metres of aquatic habitat created;
  • An average 90 per cent waste diversion rate for construction and demolition debris;
  • 25 new or improved parks and public spaces;
  • 496 affordable housing units built and another 80 units under construction;
  • Seven public art installations completed;
  • Attracting private sector investment, including 1,405 residential market units built and another 1,500 units under construction, and approximately 1 million square feet of commercial space;
  • More than 28 kilometres of critical infrastructure constructed, including new watermains, sanitary and stormwater sewers; and
  • Generating $3.2 billion in economic output for the Canadian economy, $622 million in government revenues and 16,200 full-time person years of employment.

We are proud of our achievements to date; even with the challenges encountered along the way. Construction projects on the waterfront are faced with complex urban conditions such as contaminated and geotechnically unstable soils, the result of many decades of infilling and high water tables. Often, outdated and unreliable drawings do not always accurately reflect underground infrastructure during planning and design. In the case of Queens Quay these challenges led to higher than anticipated costs. Lessons learned from past projects are used to inform our approach as we carry forward with waterfront revitalization. 

Currently, we are conducting due diligence on plans to naturalize and re-route the mouth of the Don River. Building on the flood protection achieved in the West Don Lands, this project contributes to resiliency - providing regulatory flood protection for 240 hectares (593 acres) and unlocking the development potential of the Port Lands. The flood protection proposal addresses the fundamental challenge of transforming the underused Port Lands into a long-term asset that will support Toronto's growth and economic competitiveness. Once flood protection is complete, the plan is to transform the area into resilient and sustainable mixed-use communities.

With many new projects in the planning phase and underway, we will continue to make strides in delivering a revitalized waterfront. We hope you enjoy this report and encourage you to share your thoughts with us.

John Campbell

President and CEO, Waterfront Toronto