It gives me great pleasure to share Waterfront Toronto’s first 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 the envy of the world.
Waterfront Toronto is the public advocate and steward responsible for waterfront revitalization. We were created by the City of Toronto, the province of Ontario, and the Government of Canada in 2001 and given a 20-year mandate and $1.5 billion of seed capital to transform 800 hectares of brownfield lands.
Since our founding, our vision has been to revitalize Toronto’s waterfront into a spectacular public destination with vibrant public and cultural spaces and beautifully designed sustainable mixed-use neighbourhoods inspired by their unique locations.
Our approach right from the start has been strategic revitalization as opposed to simple real estate development. Our model is based on integrated principles that bring together sustainable development, excellence in urban design, and leading technology infrastructure, while delivering important public policy objectives. We are reconnecting people with the waterfront and implementing key economic, environmental, and social benefits that enable Toronto to compete aggressively with other top tier global cities for investment, jobs, and people.
We’ve spent the last decade fulfilling our commitment to create a revitalized waterfront that sets a national and global model for sustainability. We are pleased to present this Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report as our record of how we have lived up to this commitment.
The Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report demonstrates our progress, challenges, and achievements, supporting our dedication to transparency and open communication, and also providing our stakeholders with a mechanism to understand and evaluate our work. It covers the period from the establishment of the Corporation in 2001 to December 2012, and will form the basis of future reports.
In preparing this report, we chose the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 3.1 framework, which is an internationally accepted independent standard for reporting on sustainability performance. We based our reporting on GRI’s G3.1 Guidelines as well as the The Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement, which covers key sector-specific issues. This report is aligned with the requirements of GRI Application Level C.
The content of our report is based on a material set of performance measures that align with the three areas of sustainability referred to as the “triple bottom line”: environmental, social, and economic. The triple bottom line embraces an expanded set of standards for measuring success by reporting social and environmental performance, in additional to economic accomplishments.
The Environment pillar addresses priorities such as climate change, conservation, energy, habitat loss, and water conservation. Waterfront Toronto’s communities will strive to be amongst the greenest in the world, delivering a lasting legacy as a model for sustainability. The Social theme discusses issues of diversity and equity. Our neighbourhoods will provide functional and efficient spaces that deliver a high quality of life designed for every walk and stage of life. Finally, the Economic category speaks to advancing innovation, creating meaningful employment opportunities, and attracting tourism and knowledge-based industries. This will give rise to Toronto as a centre of economic growth and creativity, providing lasting and sustainable benefits.
Some of the performance we are proud of from these themes include:
Working collaboratively with public and private partners and community stakeholders, we have also delivered 17 new and improved parks and public spaces such as Sugar Beach, Sherbourne Common, Underpass Park, and several beautiful wave decks in the Central Waterfront.
We have made major progress in transforming streets in the Central Waterfront, with construction underway to revitalize Queens Quay. This project will balance the needs of all users by accommodating transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and auto traffic, while enhancing landscape features and the public realm. This will create an iconic street for Toronto’s Waterfront.
While we are proud of these achievements to date, Waterfront Toronto has had many challenges. The implementation of sustainable community-based district energy delivery systems has proven to be difficult across the waterfront. However, we are pleased to have a strategy in the East Bayfront precinct focused on the development of a distribution network that may be phased in over a number of years as commercial and residential development occurs. A provider has engaged with the Corus Quay building as a first customer and has plans to expand into the precinct. The provider will introduce a district energy heating (hot water) distribution system, using local heating sources, and ultimately cooling.
As we present this report on our progress so far, we continue to look towards the innovation that will be realized in the waterfront by the Intelligent Communities initiative. A core component of the intelligent community on the waterfront is the deployment of Canada’s first open access ultra-broadband network. This infrastructure ensures Toronto is among only a handful of global cities that can realize the value of such an advanced open communications network.
This network will connect residences, workplaces, and public institutions to each other and the world, enabling complex projects to be completed faster, buildings to run more efficiently, and residents to access a range of services and opportunities for social interaction. Waterfront Toronto is developing its new neighbourhood with intelligent community principles at their core to contribute to local job creation, economic development, and to future proof these new areas by creating a sustainable, scalable information and communications technology platform.
With these goals in mind, we will continue to make great strides in delivering a beautiful, sustainable, and revitalized waterfront. We hope you enjoy this report and we encourage you share your thoughts with us.
CEO, Waterfront Toronto