Public Consultation and Stakeholder Satisfaction

View of waterfront information boothIn 2002, Waterfront Toronto created a public consultation strategy to formalize its commitment to public engagement and outline the principles that would guide the outreach process. The strategy is founded on the belief that positive, productive and effective relationships with the public and our stakeholders are essential to fulfilling our mandate and reflect our core values of accountability and transparency.

Going beyond what is legally required, we aim to provide meaningful opportunities for the public and stakeholders to shape our revitalization plans. This enhances the quality of our designs and plans for the waterfront, the durability of decisions, and the acceptance of outcomes.

We identify target audiences, notify interested parties, issue public notices, and provide an opportunity for input early in the decision-making process. Target audiences for consultation include: the general public; ratepayer and neighbourhood associations; interest groups; elected officials at the three orders of government; business and industry; institutions; and others. The pubic consultation strategy is designed to encourage participation, increase awareness and understanding, accurately report on the consultation results, and encourage positive contributions to designs and plans for waterfront revitalization. The Corporation also uses consultation opportunities to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of the three orders of government.

This following demonstrates the scale of our public consultation and communication efforts from March 2006 to March 2015.

Communications Stats

Social Media Tools

While face-to-face public consultation remains the cornerstone of our engagement efforts, Waterfront Toronto has also embraced digital and social media tools to expand our outreach efforts. Online consultation and social media enables a broader cross-section of the community to participate in two-way communication. Waterfront Toronto's website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel and LinkedIn page have attracted over 21,500 followers, making online and social media tools key components of the Corporation's engagement and consultation strategy. In addition, Waterfront Toronto receives over 300,000 visits to its website annually, as well as 1,500-2,000 email inquiries annually.

The tables below demonstrate the growth in our social media outreach.

Facebook stats

Twitter stats

YouTube stats

Online Public Consultation Pilot Project

In March 2015, we used the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park Innovative Design Competition to pilot a new public consultation process. The design competition was to develop bold new concepts for Toronto's gateway to the islands.  

The new process included exhibiting the proposals at Toronto's City Hall, making the proposals available online, and providing an opportunity for members of the public to submit their feedback online. Including both comment cards submitted at City Hall and online surveys completed, Waterfront Toronto received nearly 2,000 responses from members of the public. The comment cards and online survey asked people to rate the importance of seven design elements in determining a successful proposal. The responses were analyzed to produce a public feedback report with quantifiable, data-backed results. You can view a copy of the report by clicking here.

The pilot project demonstrated that an effective public feedback and consultation process can be conducted successfully using free online tools. 

Associations and Committees

We engage with organizations, associations and committees that represent a broad array of interests. For example, Waterfront Toronto consults extensively with the West Don Lands Committee (WDLC) - a community-driven coalition of local residents, businesses, as well as environmental and heritage organizations.  The WDLC promotes the redevelopment of the West Don Lands in a manner that is beneficial to the larger community. The WDLC's extensive participation improved the plans and designs for the area. Waterfront Toronto received a Public Sector Quality Fair Award for the West Don Lands project in recognition of the quality of the consultation process.

On a project basis, Waterfront Toronto consults broadly with stakeholders interested in or affected by the undertaking. We regularly establish Stakeholder Advisory Committees (SAC) and Construction Liaison Committees (CLC) as ongoing forums to obtain input, feedback, guidance and advice throughout the planning, design and construction stages. When appropriate, project-specific consultation websites are also developed to provide a portal for the public and stakeholders to learn about and participate in the project. For example, a website was created for Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment and Urban Design Study. Click here to view.

While the composition of each SAC and CLC is unique, every effort is made to ensure that they are inclusive and represent the full range of interests and perspectives. Membership typically includes:

  • Community representation through neighbourhood associations, condominium boards and residents' associations;
  • Business representation through business improvement associations, area businesses, land owners, and trade associations; and
  • Representatives from interest groups such as cycling associations, accessibility advocates, environmental groups, as well as heritage and cultural associations.

Other Communication Tools

Waterfront Toronto also uses a number of other communications tools to keep the public and stakeholders informed and engaged.

  • Our monthly email newsletter provides regular updates on a broad range of revitalization initiatives, including construction notices to ensure the public is notified of impacts to their communities. Regular, detailed construction notices are also emailed to stakeholder databases created for large-scale construction projects.
  • Our blog is also used to communicate updates about projects underway in a visually compelling and reader-friendly way.
  • The general public and stakeholders are also encouraged to attend meetings of our Board of Directors, Board committees, and Design Review Panel.

Consultation for Sustainability Initiatives

Sustainability initiatives also undergo extensive stakeholder consultation. For example, when we updated our Minimum Green Building Requirements in 2012, we reviewed the targets and requirements with stakeholders, including green building experts, developers, condominium residents, and local power distribution companies. We felt it was important to gain insights from those directly and indirectly affected by our policies.

For our first Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report, launched in 2013, we consulted with a variety of stakeholders including developers, government partners, and subject matter experts, who participated in a site mapping visioning session to discuss functionality, user needs, navigation, core content, and design. The stakeholders from this session were also asked to review the preliminary website design. Their feedback was instrumental in helping us develop our first report.

In 2015, Waterfront Toronto engaged with internal and external stakeholders for feedback on what content should be included in this report to ensure that it reflects their priorities. For more information, see the What's in our Report section. 

Stakeholder Satisfaction and Public Opinion

In an ongoing effort to continuously improve our communications and engagement processes and to gauge stakeholder satisfaction, we hosted a town hall meeting on April 1, 2015. The town hall was attended by approximately 480 people (in person and via webcast) who had an opportunity ask questions, share their views, and raise concerns. During the town hall, 130 people participated in an electronic survey. Here are the results:

survey results - have your say

       survey results - transparency

      survey results - accountability

    survey results - delivering mandate

survey results - visiting waterfront

Overall, the survey results were very positive and suggest that stakeholders approve of what Waterfront Toronto has accomplished and the way in which these accomplishments were achieved. 

Examples of Key Topics and Concerns Raised

When we receive input from our stakeholders, we often implement their recommendations.  Here are some examples of topics and concerns raised by stakeholders and how they were addressed.

  1. To address public concerns about the potential health, safety, and ecological risks associated with introducing jet aircraft and expanding the runway at Toronto's island airport (Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport), PortsToronto provided funding to Waterfront Toronto to undertake a peer review of the Environmental Assessment. The peer review will determine whether the Phase 1 (study design) and Phase 2 (effects assessment) addresses stakeholder concerns, aligns with relevant global and best practices, and draws sound conclusions.
  2. Waterfront Toronto addressed concerns raised by residents and business owners regarding idling tour buses on Queens Quay Boulevard. As part of the revitalization, Waterfront Toronto established a Bus Management Working Group and developed a Bus Management Plan to install lay-bys at strategic locations. These lay-bys allow tour buses to stop and off-load passengers, which meets tourism objectives for the area in a way that does not negatively affect other users of the road.
  3. The Bayside development proposed street parking along Merchant's Wharf, a street running parallel to the water's edge. The community expressed concerns at public consultation sessions that parking along the water is undesirable because the vehicles block views from adjacent parks and cafés. To address this issue, Waterfront Toronto met with several community members and their retail consultant to come up with a plan that reduced the numbers of parking spaces along the water and located spaces strategically to minimize the impact on views.  In the end, the community was satisfied with the plan.
  4. As detailed in the "What's in Our Report" section, we engaged with internal and external stakeholders for our 2015 report update to solicit feedback on what they see as the key priorities and material issues. The outcomes of the engagement activities shaped the content of our report.