Advancing Quayside Through The Planning Approvals Process

Aerial of Toronto's East Bayfront neighbourhood on the waterfront.

View of the East Bayfront community and the Quayside lands from Lake Ontario.


POSTED: JULY 21, 2023


In This Blog:

  • The City of Toronto's planning and development approvals process guides all new developments.
  • Quayside will be subject to a number of planning approvals, including an Official Plan Amendment, Rezoning, Site Plan Approvals for each building and a Plan of Subdivision.
  • Quayside Impact's development application will continue to be shaped by public feedback. Following Quayside's initial rezoning application, the City of Toronto will host a statutory community consultation. This is expected to happen in fall 2023.
  • Stay tuned to our website and Quayside Impact’s project website,, for more ways to get involved.


Everywhere you look, cranes. Even in light of a global pandemic, Toronto continues to experience significant growth with construction activity across the city. Older buildings are being refurbished, underutilized sites are being redeveloped and new buildings are taking shape throughout the city. Year over year, the skyline and urban fabric of the city transforms as a result of this growth. 


This cycle of growth and transformation is guided by the planning and development approvals process led by the City of Toronto (the City). Through this process, the City reviews and guides plans for new developments, their individual buildings and proposals for new or improved public spaces.  


The City’s approval process considers whether the proposed development is appropriate and consistent with goals for managing growth, while providing new space for residents and visitors to live, work, learn and play. Land use, urban design, environmental sustainability, heritage, and mobility are all considered during the approval process. The City also makes sure that community services and amenities — like affordable housing, transit, parks and community centres — are provided to make the city livable for everyone.  


As with all other developments in Toronto, plans for Quayside are going through this process and the proper planning approvals are needed before construction starts. What are those approvals and how will they help create a new dynamic, inclusive and resilient waterfront community for thousands of people?


Quayside will be subject to a number of different planning approvals, including an Official Plan Amendment, site-specific zoning by-law amendments (Rezoning), Site Plan Approvals for each of the buildings, and a Plan of Subdivision. While there are a number of different approvals, they are all being reviewed comprehensively by City staff to ensure that Quayside meets all of the City’s requirements. 


Rendering of Toronto's downtown waterfront with Quayside development plan outlined in white.

Rendering of Quayside development as it is currently proposed.  



Zoning establishes how land may be used, where buildings can be located, how big they can be (height, massing) and what uses they contain – such as housing, commercial or industrial uses. The current zoning for Quayside represents a different built form than what Quayside Impact is proposing. Quayside Impact’s proposal reflects a contemporary vision for Quayside, which includes taller towers, a range of uses and significant open space. The rezoning would also permit a mix of commercial and residential uses as well as the urban farm being proposed on the roof of the Timber House. 


Quayside Impact aims to achieve a broad and inclusive variety of housing through its proposed built form, which unlocks more units across a range of housing types and, in particular, much needed affordable rental housing. The rezoning would also remove any residential permissions on Block 5, allowing for the potential location of a school and/or a cultural facility. 


Official Plan Amendment  

The City of Toronto Official Plan broadly establishes how the City is to grow and, among many things, describes what land uses are appropriate, how streets and roads should function, and how our parks and open spaces should contribute to a great City. Within the Official Plan, there are a series of more specific plans called Secondary Plans. Quayside is within the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan. Because Quayside Impact is proposing some changes to policies in the Central Waterfront Secondary plan with respect to the building heights on Blocks 3 and 4, an Official Plan amendment is needed. 


Site Plan Approval  

The Site Plan Approval process further refines details related to the location and design of the buildings and public space. Site plans typically address access for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, landscaping, drainage and lighting, and building design and materials. Site Plan Agreements are entered into between the City and a developer to make sure designs meet building requirements and to confirm what will be constructed. Everything from building materials, locations of doors and windows, to what tree species and vegetation will be planted are addressed in site plans. The first three buildings in Quayside—the Western Curve, the Overstory and the Timber House—as well as the landscape surrounding them, will all go through the Site Plan Approval process.


Satellite image of a downtown waterfront with site outlined in red and black.

At Quayside, the Plan of Subdivision will create Blocks 3, 4 and 5.

Plan of Subdivision 

Plans of Subdivision create new blocks and roads and ensure that each of the new blocks will have the necessary services (water, sewers, utilities, and parks) to support development. In Quayside, the Plan of Subdivision will create Blocks 3, 4 and 5 and will identify the new rights-of-way for Queens Quay, Parliament Street and any other streets that will be conveyed to the City of Toronto. The subdivision will also identify the exact location (but not the final design) of the Water’s Edge Promenade and Silo Park.  


The Process 

Throughout the pre-application and application stage, the City of Toronto, Quayside Impact and Waterfront Toronto have been in close communication to help identify any issues or concerns before they get embedded into the plans and to help ensure a smooth approval process.


People talking at a public open house with display boards.

This spring we hosted an open house with information about several projects in East Bayfront, including plans for Quayside.


The planning approval process does not happen in a vacuum; it is informed by public engagement – this is embedded in Waterfront Toronto’s commitment to putting the public’s voice at the centre of its planning and revitalization efforts. You can read this blog to learn more about how public input has helped shape the vision and plans for Quayside up until now. 


Public consultation is also an important part of the City of Toronto’s planning and development processes. Following initial rezoning applications, the City of Toronto hosts a statutory community consultation; for Quayside this is expected to take place in the fall of 2023.


Quayside Impact’s development application will continue to be shaped by public feedback, as well as comments from the City of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and Waterfront Toronto’s Design Review Panel, and will be refined in subsequent submissions to the City for review before final approvals are considered.  


In the meantime, Quayside Impact plans on creating more awareness about their plans and gathering community feedback through a series of summer pop-up activities.


Stay tuned to for more ways to get involved.