Openness, transparency and accountability are core values of Waterfront Toronto, and the corporation has taken many steps to operationalize these values.
As a tri-government organization, Waterfront Toronto is fully accountable to the governments and people of Canada, Ontario and the City of Toronto. The corporation is overseen by a board of directors that is appointed by its government partners. Each order of government appoints four board members to the board. Waterfront Toronto’s priorities are set jointly with its government partners and numerous checks and balances are in place to oversee the corporation.
When Waterfront Toronto was established, the three governments each committed $500 million in seed capital to enable the organization to begin the revitalization process. The vast majority of the waterfront land is owned by the governments and they also gave the organization control over their waterfront land. Waterfront Toronto’s funding model leverages the public capital by working with private sector development partners who buy the land for development, and the money earned is used to further fund public infrastructure.
Each government approves all its funding to Waterfront Toronto through detailed and binding contribution agreements. Funding for each project and in many cases phases of projects is administered through contribution agreements, as is corporate annual spending. Contribution agreements are based on an annual tri-government negotiated long-term funding plan, which is approved by Toronto City Council, the Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and the Federal Minister of Finance.
The federal government audits Waterfront Toronto regularly on behalf of the three governments. Since 2005, Waterfront Toronto has been audited 12 times. Additionally, a Value for Money audit was conducted in June 2007 concluding that value for money was being provided by Waterfront Toronto. A recently completed federal procurement audit (December 2010) found that Waterfront Toronto complies with all federal and Waterfront Toronto's own internal procurement policies. In 2009, the City noted that Waterfront Toronto's procurement policies meet or exceed the City's own disclosure policies.
Waterfront Toronto project face several levels of approval. All land sales must be approved by the government that owns the land. The provincial government approved the sale of the West Don Lands development site to Urban Capital. Toronto City Council approved the land sales to Great Gulf and Hines in East Bayfront.
Toronto City Council approved Waterfront Toronto’s precinct plans for three new waterfront neighbourhoods: East Bayfront, West Don Lands and Keating Channel. The precinct planning included extensive public consultation and all related environmental assessments.
Consultation and collaboration with the community and the general public play a central role in transforming our waterfront into an extraordinary public asset. Since its inception Waterfront Toronto has been committed to effective, open, transparent two-way communication and engagement with the public.
As a planning and development organization, much of the work carried out by Waterfront Toronto is regulated under the municipal planning process. Although Waterfront Toronto as a matter of course carries out extensive public consultations, the corporation also must comply with municipal statutory requirements.