Development Opportunity: Toronto’s New Quayside to Revitalize the City’s Waterfront

Development Opportunity: Toronto’s New Quayside to Revitalize the City’s Waterfront

There’s a bright world just beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and Waterfront Toronto, the organization tasked with revitalizing the city’s waterfront, is working to deliver on that future with its vision for the Quayside Project—a 12-acre mixed-use development poised to transform the industrial lands at the foot of Parliament Street.

George Zegarac, chief executive officer of Waterfront Toronto, hopes that the project will help build a community where everyone sees themselves as represented. “The past year has driven people apart, when they’d rather be together,” he says. “At Quayside we’re building on the natural unifying force of water to create a community that celebrates inclusiveness, respect for the environment, culture, and design excellence that typifies the togetherness for which Canada is known. With the support of all three levels of government behind our agency, we can ensure that this development will be something special, raising the bar on what we can expect from the waterfront.” 

The development site is an L-shaped area of waterfront land that bridges the communities of the West Don Lands and East Bayfront. Having far outgrown its past role as the city’s industrial warehouse, it’s now dominated by a large parking lot, a scattering of nondescript buildings, and a concrete-lined marina on the Keating Channel, which connects to Lake Ontario.

While the city has gradually developed the downtown core as its focal point, Waterfront Toronto’s vision is to reorient the city toward the lake and to provide new ways for people to re-engage with the water. Ideally, Quayside will do just that by providing an eclectic mixed-use development featuring new housing, recreational opportunities, parks, and a new cultural center.

Importantly, Quayside also aims to address the barriers of wealth, class, and race that have traditionally restricted access to the waterfront, left over from the city's industrial past. All new development must make the waterfront more accessible to any person who wants to enjoy it.

Zegarac likes to say that anyone can belong at Quayside. This promise is more than just a slogan. About one in four residential units will represent affordable housing, while the rest will constitute a mix of market-priced residential units and opportunities for affordable home ownership. Special consideration will be given to ensure that older citizens have a reason to retire in the city and will be able to age in place. The site will also include equitable opportunities to develop local businesses and restaurants, and to provide local employment.

While Waterfront Toronto is currently soliciting Requests for Qualifications as a first step toward delivering on the development, it’s clear that all proposed buildings must aspire to world class design and architectural best practices, while speaking to the unique nature of Toronto and its waterfront. All designs must also meet or exceed the rigorous aesthetic standards of Waterfront Toronto’s Design Review Panel. The design for the new cultural center will be chosen through an international design competition, allowing for the creation of a new iconic structure that will expand the city’s list of instantly recognizable landmarks.

All construction will have to meet or exceed the requirements of Waterfront Toronto’s pathbreaking Green Building Standards. In the face of climate change and extreme weather events, all buildings and infrastructure will be built to be resilient. “Over the past year, we’ve also heard from Torontonians that they want more lake-front parks and water access, more places to walk and to cycle, and more places to go swimming or boating,” says Zegarac. “Quayside will be designed to deliver on all of them.”

The recreational centerpiece for the development is a reimagined Parliament Slip that will make the water accessible and provide year-round activities, including dining, swimming, boating, and ice skating.

“We’ll know we’ve been successful when anyone who’s ever thought about moving away from the city looks at Quayside and remembers every reason they wanted to live in Toronto in the first place.”

For more information and news on ongoing developments with the Quayside project, visit the Quayside website. To download the Request for Qualifications, visit the procurement website.

Cite: "Development Opportunity: Toronto’s New Quayside to Revitalize the City’s Waterfront" 17 Mar 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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