Leading with Design Excellence and Innovation

Illuminated pink umbrellas at Cherry Beach at night.



In This Blog:

  • Waterfront developments have set new standards by demonstrating a commitment to leading-edge infrastructure and development. 

  • We require our development partners to meet high but attainable sustainability standards in projects on the waterfront. 

  • Transit is a critical part of our strategy to make new waterfront neighbourhoods more environmentally sustainable. 

  • This past year, we celebrated our record of design excellence with the first ever Waterfront Design Review Panel Awards.

  • In 2022–2023, we made progress developing our Waterfront Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines, which will guide public realm design across the lands by the lake.

Waterfront Toronto strives to be a leader in design excellence and planning, working to enhance the social and cultural value of the Toronto waterfront by creating a landscape and built environment that make all Canadians proud.


Our 2022-2023 Integrated Annual Report underscores our commitment to design excellence, which is a critical component of our vision for a transformed and revitalized waterfront. By leading with landscape and planning for the whole waterfront as a connected public space, we are creating a destination for everyone at the water’s edge.


This final piece in our three-part blog series outlines the progress we have made to enhance design excellence on the lands by the lake with respect to innovation, sustainability and accessibility.


Raising the Bar on Sustainable Development 

Waterfront developments have set new standards by demonstrating a commitment to leading-edge infrastructure and development. From educational facilities to residential developments to workplaces, we require our development partners to meet high but attainable standards in emissions reduction and in other areas like energy efficiency, waste reduction and water conservation.


Toronto's Easy Bayfront neighbourhood seen from the water.

Aqualina (left) and Aquavista (right) were the first two residential developments in East Bayfront by Hines/Tridel to achieve LEED certification. 


In 2022-2023, we completed the fit out for the first child care centre in East Bayfront, which was built to align with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standards that Aquabella recently achieved in July 2023. Located within the Aquabella condominium building (see page 36) the child care centre began operations in September 2023 and provides care for up to 62 children.  Progress also advanced on the construction of Aqualuna, the fourth Hines/Tridel residential building in East Bayfront expected to achieve LEED certification.


The exterior of the T3 mass timber building.

Hines continued work on T3 (Timber, Talent, Technology) Bayside, the first of two mass-timber buildings planned for East Bayfront.


See page 36 to see how East Bayfront has grown in 2022-2023 and learn about developments underway that will soon join the neighbourhood.


Rendering: a green streetcar track in a downtown.

A potential green track on the Waterfront East LRT would enhance the public realm and sustainability along the eastern waterfront.


Transit is a critical part of our strategy to make new waterfront neighbourhoods easier to access and more environmentally sustainable. We continue to work with the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) on the potential Waterfront East LRT route that will connect East Bayfront and Villiers Island to the rest of the downtown transit network. In 2022–2023, Waterfront Toronto prepared design work to pilot a segment of green track for the potential LRT. This would be the first green track segment on the waterfront and among the first in Toronto. If this segment performs well in a pilot test, green tracks could be rolled out across larger portions of the Waterfront East LRT network.


Learn more about the Waterfront East LRT on page 73-74 of the 2022-2023 Integrated Annual Report.


Celebrating Design Excellence 

We formed Toronto’s first Design Review Panel (DRP) in 2005 to promote beautiful, coherent design approaches across the waterfront revitalization area. The DRP strives to add value to every project brought forward for review by providing expert advice that is professional, fair, and constructive. Its role is to promote design excellence, improve environmental performance, and ensure a cohesive approach to waterfront revitalization.


Families playing at Corktown Common park.

Innovatively positioned atop the area’s massive flood protection landform, Hall of Fame Award winner Corktown Common has leveraged essential public infrastructure to deliver a magnificent public amenity.


This year, for the first time, the DRP announced awards for projects that embody design excellence in a range of forms and uses (see page 64). Categories for awards of excellence included: Residential Design, Built Work, Design Innovation, and Public Landscape Design. There was also a Hall of Fame category for iconic projects along with waterfront – winners included Canada’s Sugar Beach and Corktown Common.


Read pages 63-66 of the report to see some of the winners and for an exclusive interview with Paul Bedford, Chair of the Waterfront Design Review Panel as he discusses the first ever DRP awards.


Pursuing Accessible Design Excellence 

In 2022–2023, we continued to develop Waterfront Toronto’s Accessibility Design Guidelines, which will guide public realm design across the lands by the lake. The guidelines are being created in collaboration with the Waterfront Toronto Advisory Committee on Accessibility. This committee of 13 advisors comprises individuals with professional or technical expertise, most of whom are individuals with disabilities as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.


A person in a mobility chair looks over the Love Park pond.

We are working to enhance our capabilities in accessible design — to exceed expectations, show leadership and make accessibility another area of true design excellence on the waterfront.


We plan to publish the draft guidelines later this year for public feedback. And, to help implement the guidelines, we plan to form an ongoing Accessibility Advisory Committee which will review all Waterfront Toronto public realm projects to ensure that accessibility considerations are built into the earliest stages of our planning and design work. In the meantime, we have already begun to apply the guidelines’ implementation and technical requirements to our projects in active design development.


Read our 2022-2023 Integrated Annual Report to see how we incorporate design excellence and innovation across all aspects of our work.


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