WATERFRONToronto

Who We Are

The revitalization of Toronto's waterfront represents a multi-decade collaboration between the three orders of government. Originally established to address Toronto's bid for the 2008 Olympics, it evolved into the creation of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation in 2001 - now known as Waterfront Toronto.

Like most modern urban waterfronts, Toronto's waterfront is characterized by large tracts of government owned lands that are largely vacant, underutilized or zoned for industrial use. The high percentage of public ownership of Toronto waterfront lands and their prime location adjacent to the financial core are important elements of Toronto's waterfront, creating an unprecedented opportunity to transform the face of Toronto.

To address this opportunity, in November 2001 the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, and the Government of Canada, committed $1.5 billion ($500 million each) as well as land as seed capital to kick start the revitalization of Toronto's lakefront. They also established Waterfront Toronto to oversee all aspects of the planning and development of Toronto's waterfront. In December 2002, the government of Ontario passed the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation Act, the legislation which defines the Corporation's objectives, powers, obligations, and authority.

The project will ultimately deliver approximately 40,000 new residences, 40,000 new jobs, one million square metres of employment space, and 300 hectares of public parks, making it one of the largest waterfront brownfield revitalization projects in the world. The scale of Waterfront Toronto's two active downtown precincts is shown in the charts below, which detail the approximate proposed build out in square feet. The table that follows provides unit numbers and Gross Floor Area of our completed building projects, as well as for projects that are in the design or construction phase.

West Don Lands Gross Floor Area

  East Bayfront Gross Floor Area

building stats for completed projects

building stats for projects under design and construction

Waterfront Toronto's mission is to transform the waterfront into a series of sustainable, mixed-use urban neighbourhoods integrated with parks and open spaces that greatly expand the City's capacity for urban living, employment and recreation, and reconnect people with the waterfront. Successful revitalization of Toronto's waterfront requires bringing together the most innovative approaches to real estate development, planning, design, and construction in a highly collaborative manner.

Land under Waterfront Toronto's jurisdiction is divided into five precincts: Central Waterfront, East Bayfront, West Don Lands, and the Port Lands. The aim for each of these precincts is to develop high performance, self-sufficient neighbourhoods with land use functions that facilitate sustainable patterns of behaviour from residents and visitors alike. These will be new types of neighbourhoods for Toronto, with thoughtful consideration of neighbourhood pattern and design, linkages and connectivity to existing communities, and green, efficient infrastructure and buildings.

In addition to these precincts, Waterfront Toronto is transforming the wider waterfront, ranging from sites in Mimico in the west to Port Union in the east. See Waterfront Toronto's website for further details on wider waterfront projects.

Waterfront Toronto's Precincts

Map of Waterfront Toronto's precincts

Public Policy Objectives

Sam Coles Quotation Text

Waterfront Toronto's key objective is the revitalization of the waterfront, not redevelopment. This important distinction means that Waterfront Toronto's revitalization approach is based on delivering broader public policy, social, economic and environmental objectives and not simply real estate development.

Waterfront Toronto's revitalization activities build on City and Provincial smart growth policies and objectives, including the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan and the Places to Grow Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. By revitalizing Toronto's waterfront, the following key government public policy objectives are being achieved:

  • Reducing urban sprawl;
  • Developing sustainable mixed-use communities;
  • Increasing the supply of affordable housing;
  • Creating more parks and public spaces;
  • Expanding public transit; and
  • Increasing economic competitiveness.

Governance and Accountability 

Openness, accountability and transparency are fundamental tenets of Waterfront Toronto's operations. This includes interactions with the public through our extensive public consultation processes, as well as with the private sector, particularly with respect to planning, design, contracting and procurement.

Waterfront Toronto's management structure provides effective governance processes through which priorities and plans are set and resources are allocated. The executive team is led by John Campbell, our President and CEO, supported by officers of the Corporation, strong mid-level management and support staff, consisting of subject-matter experts across a variety of disciplines.

A highly capable, cross-disciplinary Board of Directors, chaired by Mark Wilson, and including leading representatives of the financial, political, academic, cultural, and real estate communities, have been appointed by the three levels of government. The Board has further established five committees to provide ongoing oversight and advice to management and stakeholders. Waterfront Toronto is also regularly audited by all orders of government to ensure accountability and value for money is maintained.

Each of the five committees has a minimum of 3 board members and is chaired by a person appointed by the Board. The CEO is invited to all meetings and the committee Chair reports to the Board following each meeting. Waterfront Toronto's committees are briefly described below:

Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee

This committee reviews the Corporation's annual and quarterly financial statements and recommends the approval of audits. The committee also provides recommendations to the Board regarding financial matters, including annual and longer term budgets, variances in material capital project expenditures, business plans, period forecasts, long term financial plans, the adequacy of financial resources and cash flow, and the financing of various projects. The committee also reviews significant matters involving risk management activities.

Human Resources and Compensation Committee

This committee creates and reviews the Human Resources systems necessary to attract and retain talent and to utilize best practices in areas such as compensation, recruitment, training, employee relations, talent management, performance management, and benefits.

Governance Committee

This committee develops and monitors governance standards and best practices, and communicates them to other committees. The governance committee also recommends which committees and members are appropriate; develops the mandate of committees; and creates position descriptions for the Chair and CEO.

The committee facilitates public access to meetings by providing the public notice of any committee meeting and confirming the date, time, place, and agenda at least 5 business days before the meeting; posting the minutes on the website; and, on an annual basis, reviewing and making recommendations concerning public access to meetings.

Investment and Real Estate Committee

This committee provides advice to the Board on major development projects including recommendations on third parties to be engaged. The committee also oversees the implementation and execution of third party development projects approved by the board; conducts reviews and evaluates real estate acquisitions and divestments proposed by management; and oversees the implementation and execution of real estate transactions approved by the board.

Public and Government Engagement Committee

This committee reviews and evaluates the integrated strategic communications plan. This includes directing the Corporation's branding strategy, reaching target audiences, promoting national and international recognition, and developing distinct marketing tool kits. The committee also provides guidance and a venue for collaboration with management in the areas of sponsorship and partnership, including philanthropic opportunities.

Waterfront Toronto Staff

Waterfront Toronto is comprised of 62 full-time permanent staff members and three full-time contract employees, all of whom work in the corporation's only office in downtown Toronto. Staff members are organized into six departments: Administration, Finance, Planning and Design, Development, and Operations and comprise of planners, lawyers, architects, engineers, as well as communications, public engagement, marketing, financial, and sustainability professionals. Based on Employee Opinion Surveys, the overall level of satisfaction was rated at 77% in 2008, 66% in 2011, and 76% in 2013. Staff members enjoy coming to work, feel safe, have good relationships with co-workers, and are proud to work at Waterfront Toronto.

Waterfront Toronto is proud of its culture of open communication and integrity amongst staff and stakeholders. The senior management team and the CEO are accessible and available to those who wish to express concerns, or provide recommendations on any matter. To support this openness, Waterfront Toronto has a guideline on Disclosure of Wrong-Doing, which allows employees, stakeholders, and the public to voice concerns related to questionable financial matters, unethical business conduct, violation of laws, danger to health and safety, and damage to property. Waterfront Toronto also has a Code of Conduct to preserve public confidence, trust and accountability. It provides guidance on:

  • ethical decision making;
  • honesty and integrity;
  • compliance with the law;
  • confidential information;
  • entertainment, gifts and favours;
  • non-profit and professional associations;
  • use of corporation's assets
  • social media;
  • contact with the media; and
  • conflict of interest procedures.

Break-down of staff by gender and classification

Staff by gender and classification

Break-down of staff by age and classification

Staff by age and classification

Over half of the staff members at the highest levels of management (executive and director) are women; over half are also between the ages of 30-49. Overall, Waterfront Toronto's staff represents a well-balanced mix of gender and age groups.

Procurement Policy

Waterfront Toronto procures a host of products and services for a wide range of revitalization projects that vary in scale and complexity.

At the high end of the spectrum in terms of complexity, price and scale, we have precinct-wide Master Plans, construction projects, environmental investigations and innovative design competitions geared at reshaping the face of our city.

Implementing large-scale projects requires the procurement of many smaller items, including benches, trees, lampposts and public art, as well as a range of complementary services.

Waterfront Toronto is a responsible steward of public funds and understands the importance of procurement practices that are fair, open and transparent. Our procurement activities are intended to achieve both maximum value for the Corporation and its stakeholders and to advance our strategic objectives.

The objectives of Waterfront Toronto's Procurement Policy are to ensure that:

  • all goods and services are acquired in accordance with:
    • approved procurement processes;
    • authorized budgets;
    • applicable Contribution Agreements whereby the Corporation receives value for money by obtaining goods and services through a fair and competitive procurement process involving reputable suppliers;
  • evaluation criteria are applied fairly to assess the merits of competitive bids, proposals, quotes and submissions;
  • senior management is appropriately accountable for all material procurement; and
  • the entire competitive procurement process is fair, open and transparent.

Waterfront Toronto has entered into approximately 1700 contracts with roughly 670 suppliers, most of whom are located in Canada. To see our procurement policy, code of ethics, and all of our awarded contracts, please click here.

Corporate Objectives

In 2001, Waterfront Toronto established Guiding Principles and Corporate Objectives to set performance expectations based on the Corporation's vision. The performance measures that are detailed in this report translated these objectives into quantifiable indicators that can assess Waterfront Toronto's success.

Guiding Principles

Corporate Objectives

Sustainable Development

To develop world leading social, cultural, environmental, and economically sustainable communities

Public Accessibility

To be a trusted public steward by actively involving the community and other stakeholders in all major revitalization activities

To create a waterfront that is inviting and accessible for living, working and playing for all age groups, families and economic levels of the public

Economic Prosperity

To promote employment growth for the waterfront, particularly for creative knowledge based employers

Design Excellence

To build a waterfront characterized by high quality design and culture that contributes to how Toronto is perceived by the world

Fiscal Sustainability

To attract and leverage private sector development by maximizing value creation through strategic public sector investment

Operational Effectiveness

To achieve stated long term plan deliverables

To provide a work environment that is motivating and inspirational that contributes to attracting and retaining top talent

To maximize value for money through the effective and efficient management of the Corporation

To advance objectives of revitalization by strengthening the Corporation's governance practices and its relationships with key stakeholders and agencies

Business Model

At our inception, each level of government committed $500 million ($1.5 billion in total) as seed capital to help catalyze waterfront revitalization. In addition, the Province and the City committed the proceeds from the sale and lease of government owned lands in the designated waterfront area to be reinvested back into the revitalization program.

Waterfront Toronto's funding model leverages public capital by working with public and private development partners who purchase or lease land for development. The money earned is used to further fund public infrastructure. Developers are held to specific requirements concerning the design, sustainability and construction of their projects through legally-binding Development Agreements that include financial penalties for non-compliance.

The Corporation is currently managing activities derived from government funding, interest and short term rental income, and land sales/financing. Waterfront Toronto's business model is predicated on the ability to phase development in order to allow land sale revenues to pay for the incremental infrastructure investment required to remediate and service lands for development.

Development Approach 

Quote text from Scott Loudon

Waterfront Toronto has planning and development control over undervalued and underutilized publicly held waterfront lands. By undertaking most of the upfront work, Waterfront Toronto has improved building conditions, land values and attracted private sector investment. This work includes building major parks and public spaces, ensuring that zoning is in place, building roads and services, and remediating contaminated soil. This provides the private sector with a higher level of certainty in undertaking development on the waterfront and leaves them with the two risks they are best able to manage: market and construction risk.

Waterfront Toronto's development approach is also based on partnering with private sector companies that share the vision and values of waterfront revitalization. These partners are passionate and committed to building a better city and raising the bar for development in Toronto.

Precautionary Principle

"Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation" (Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 1992).

The precautionary principle acknowledges that lack of full certainty should not be a reason to delay decisions to secure human and environmental health. Waterfront Toronto often errs on the side of caution, favouring decisions that protect people and ecosystem regardless of whether all the evidence is in to support that line of action. For example, Waterfront Toronto uses policy and regulation to guide decision making on brownfield redevelopment. We conduct risk assessments that explore the likelihood that a substance has contaminated the property. If this likelihood is high, further property investigations, sampling and analysis is undertaken. To protect ecological and human health, Waterfront Toronto implements risk management measures based on the outcome of the analysis.