Creating Extraordinary Public Spaces

Rendering: a busy park with a curved bridge in the background.



In This Blog:

  • Beautiful, inviting and vibrant parks and green spaces are essential to the transformation of the waterfront and remain among the priorities that matter most to our stakeholders. 

  • In 2022–2023, we continued to add to the more than 25 parks we’ve already delivered or enhanced on the waterfront. 

  • In Quayside, we will design and deliver vibrant public spaces that will connect the city to the waterfront and Parliament Slip. 

  • Our flood protection work in the Port Lands will create more opportunities for people to connect with the waterfront by transforming underused industrial lands into developable land, including plenty of new parks and public spaces. 


Adding beautiful, accessible parks and green space to the waterfront is a top priority for the public. We’re pleased that 2022–2023 has been another exciting year of progress in the delivery of new public parks and green spaces.


Our 2022-2023 Integrated Annual Report showcases how we lay the foundations for complete communities by weaving parks and green spaces throughout new neighbourhoods and by increasing access to the waterfront.


This second piece in our three-part blog series outlines the progress we’ve made delivering on priorities like access to the water’s edge and creating public green spaces that support a waterfront everyone can enjoy.


Delivering Iconic Parks 

Bringing beautiful, inviting parks to the waterfront is central to our mandate, and this work continues to be one of the priorities that matter most to our stakeholders. In 2022–2023, we continued to add to the more than 25 parks we’ve already delivered or enhanced on the waterfront.


Love Park, the newest public park delivered by Waterfront Toronto, opened to the public in June 2023. We advanced construction of the park throughout 2022-2023 bringing it closer to completion for summer 2023. Since opening, the new green space at the intersection of York Street and Queens Quay West has quickly become a popular space for surrounding residents, office workers, and visitors to enjoy the shade of mature trees, a playful heart-shaped pond and views of Lake Ontario.


Rendering: park with a granite silhouette of Terry Fox.

We Are Shaped by the Obstacles We Face,’ was conceived by artist Jon Sasaki and landscape architect DTAH commemorating the legacy of Canadian athlete, humanitarian and activist Terry Fox.


In spring 2023, it was announced that Waterfront Toronto would deliver a new art installation paying tribute to Terry Fox at the existing park east of the Toronto Music Garden at 439 Queens Quay West. The installation was conceived by artist Jon Sasaki and landscape architect DTAH during a nationwide call for proposals by community organization Legacy Art Project Toronto (LAPT) in collaboration with Art+Public. We’ll work with the City of Toronto as we lead construction of the installation, aiming for a completion date of late 2023.


More information about the incredible parks we’re delivering on the waterfront can be found on page 60 of our Integrated Annual Report.


Rendering: children in a playground

A Destination Playground would feature innovative playground equipment and connect to the wider network of parks and trails on Villiers Island.


While we are delivering parks that will be enjoyed in the near term, we are also working to create parks that we plan to deliver in the future. Our vision for a Destination Playground, a larger-than-life innovative playground for children on Villiers Island, reached the 30% design milestone in 2022-2023. Currently a project open to philanthropic support, a Destination Playground would offer unique nature play opportunities in the heart of the city and draw families from all over. Learn more on page 74.


Creating Vibrant Public Spaces 

Although the largest green space we are developing will come to life in the Port Lands (see page 59 of our Integrated Annual Report), we’re also creating inviting public spaces on smaller parcels of land to enhance life in urban neighbourhoods along the waterfront.


For example, at Quayside, a 12-acre (4.9-hectare) area at the foot of Parliament Street and Queens Quay East, Waterfront Toronto will design and deliver vibrant public spaces that will meet the needs of residents in this new neighbourhood and help connect the city to the waterfront. This includes a realigned and enhanced Parliament Street, extending the Water’s Edge Promenade and a future park, Silo Park. And, our development partner, Quayside Impact, will build a network of green spaces within Quayside dubbed the community forest and create an urban rooftop farm atop one of the area’s residential buildings, creating an ecologically vibrant neighbourhood on the waterfront.


Illustrated map of future public realm spaces in Quayside.

The areas in brighter green represent the public realm around Quayside, where Waterfront Toronto will lead design and delivery in areas such as Silo Park (1), the Water’s Edge Promenade (2), Parliament Grove (3) and a revitalized Queens Quay East (4).


In 2022-2023, public realm design for the realigned Parliament Street reached the 30% milestone. The new design features an area called Parliament Grove at the intersection of Queens Quay East and Parliament Street. These spaces will aim to provide a lush transition from Lake Shore Boulevard East to Queens Quay East and serve as a green gateway to the lake. Learn more on page 66.


More Opportunities to Connect with the Waterfront 

Over the past year, we continued our work flood-protecting 593 acres (240 hectares) of prime waterfront land by reshaping and renaturalizing the mouth of the Don River. By unlocking the development potential of this prime waterfront land, the Port Lands Flood Protection Project will enable the creation of a network of 62 acres (25 hectares) of parks and public green space.


The 2022–2023 fiscal year saw major milestones including the completion of excavation work of the Don River valley (see page 58 for more details on the excavation) and completed extensive work to establish thriving habitats in the river, wetland and parks. We also completed the installation of marine habitat features such as rocks and logs in Canoe Cove in the Polson Slip which will help to prevent erosion and support flood protection capacity.


A cyclist in a bike lane on a bridge.

This past year, we advanced work on the family of bridges that will connect Villiers Island to the mainland. All four bridges have now been delivered and installed, and the Cherry Street South Bridge opened to the public in October 2022.


Transforming Underused Industrial Lands

Covered with fill and paved in the early 20th century, the Don River will soon return to a more natural state. In May 2022, we gave a head start to the millions of plants that will populate the new Don River valley. We’ve selected hundreds of species that provide high-quality habitat, are non-invasive and are well suited to the varied conditions they’ll experience as the water level rises and falls both seasonally and during storms.


A planting crew on a construction site.


Between 18,000 and 22,000 plants are delivered to the site every week during planting periods - most of which are planted by hand! To hold everything in place while the seeds take root, some areas are covered with a compostable vegetable-fibre fabric. We also have specially trained dogs and birds of prey on-site to make the area uninviting to other birds while the plants get established. We’ll be thrilled to welcome birds and other animals as the wetland matures. 


Learn more about the transformation of the Don River and other milestones we have achieved in our 2022-2023 Integrated Annual Report.