Quayside: The Next Building Block in a Waterfront for Everyone

Toronto's downtown skyline.

POSTED: MARCH 23, 2023


In This Blog:

  • Waterfront Toronto is leading a significant transformation in Toronto’s eastern waterfront, including Quayside, plans to realign Parliament Street and extend Queens Quay East to deliver new transit, and flood protection in the Port Lands.

  • Our revitalization of this area is rooted in lofty public priorities set for the waterfront.

  • The plans for Quayside have been shaped by years of public engagement but the story of Quayside is still being written.

  • Stay tuned to our website and Quayside Impact’s project website www.QuaysideTO.ca for information on upcoming public engagement opportunities.


Earlier this year we began working with Dream and Great Gulf Group, together known as Quayside Impact Limited Partnership (Quayside Impact), to realize our vision for Quayside. Together, we’ll create a dynamic, inclusive, and resilient community – a place for people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and incomes, where residents will have ready access to the needs of daily life, like shopping, food, recreation, mobility and parks and public space.  
This vision for Quayside has been shaped by deep and ongoing public engagement spanning many years. Even though a lot of work has taken place already, Quayside’s story is still being written.


Aerial before and after images of waterfront neighbourhood.

Above left is East Bayfront in 2005 and on the right is the same area in 2019. Waterfront Toronto is leading a significant transformation in the area including Quayside.


Quayside is part of the larger transformation underway along the eastern waterfront, including plans to realign Parliament Street, extend Queens Quay East and deliver new transit, and flood protection in the Port Lands—one of the biggest construction projects in Canada. The construction and design you see now is how we’re executing a plan that set lofty public priorities for the waterfront.


Keating Channel Precinct Plan report cover

Precinct Planning is an important step in achieving Toronto’s vision for a revitalized waterfront. Quayside is part of both the East Bayfront and Keating Channel precincts.  


Planning for Change

Planning for Quayside is grounded in the objectives of the 2003 Central Waterfront Secondary Plan, which is the backbone of the vision for a revitalized waterfront. It set out a series of “big moves”: 

  • Removing Barriers and Making Connections  

  • Building a Network of Spectacular Waterfront Parks and Public Spaces  

  • Promoting a Clean and Green Environment  

  • Creating Dynamic and Diverse New Communities 

Public engagement then helped advance detailed plans, including the West Don Lands Precinct Plan in 2005, East Bayfront Precinct Plan in 2005, the Keating Channel Precinct Plan in 2010, and the Villiers Island Precinct Plan in 2017.  The precinct plans provide design concepts and development guidelines for the public infrastructure (streets, parks and trails, and community facilities) as well as the built form of new development.


Waterfront Toronto has been working steadily to bring to life the new communities, parks and public spaces imagined in these planning documents and make them real: 

  • Forward-looking new neighbourhoods like River City, the Canary District and Bayside offer a mix of uses, including residential housing (both market and affordable), commercial, retail, institutional spaces, and community amenities like daycares and recreation centres.

  • New well-loved public places like Corktown Common, Underpass Park, Sherbourne Common and Sugar Beach

  • Expanded public spaces along Queens Quay West by reconfiguring traffic lanes, extending the promenade and building WaveDecks, and building the Water's Edge Promenade in the East Bayfront, adding a kilometre of public space along the shoreline spanning from Jarvis Street to Parliament Street.

  • Pushing green building standards, and redesigning roads and bridges that prioritize space for transit, cycling and walking are contributing to a greener, more sustainable city. 

Public input during planning and design phases helped each of these projects become better and more responsive to their communities.


Now, we have a chance to take what we’ve learned from these projects and build on that. At Quayside, we can achieve – and exceed – the goals set out in the secondary plan and precinct plans.


Quayside’s Story 


Aerial of downtown core with land parcel outlined in red.

The L-shaped Quayside site is located at the foot of Parliament Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East. 


Building on the accomplishments in the West Don Lands and Bayside, we set out to create an ambitious plan for a next-generation sustainable community at Quayside. Through an international competition we initially selected Sidewalk Labs as an innovation partner to help us discover new ways to deliver on those ambitions. We worked with them as ideas were generated and then engaged the public on their proposal and gathered feedback.  In May 2020, Sidewalk Labs removed themselves from the project.  As we moved forward, we were committed to building on the feasible ideas and insights that came from this work and the thoughtful public discussion. 


In addition to reflecting on all the knowledge gained, we also considered how much the world had changed. The COVID-19 pandemic, growing social inequality, economic insecurity, and mounting climate crisis made us all take pause and consider what kind of world we want to be living in. 


From the beginning, one of our goals was to include Indigenous voices in the design and planning process for Quayside. As the treaty holders of the lands on which Quayside is situated, the Mississauguas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) participated in our new competitive Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals process to identify a development partner for Quayside.


We met with dozens of community organizations and sought feedback on updated project goals and objectives. We also formed a new Stakeholder Advisory Committee to inform the aspirations and priorities for Quayside and the requirements to be included in the competitive call for a development partner. In October 2020, a virtual public meeting was held to test our thinking and seek broader feedback on the priorities and aspirations.


Rendering: people sitting in a park, with apartment buildings in the background.

Quayside is being developed by Dream and Great Gulf Group, together known as Quayside Impact Limited Partnership. 


What We Heard  

Public input from consultations in 2020 is summarized in this Report and identified several aspirations and priorities for Quayside. Altogether, what we heard guided the creation of the Request for Qualifications and then the Request for Proposals – the competitive call for a development partner to advance Quayside. 


Public aspirations for Quayside included: 

  • Put community at the center of planning. 

  • Prioritize and define affordable housing.  

  • Retain elements from the previous work related to sustainability, climate change and innovation.   

  • Ensure Indigenous engagement and presence in the design and planning process.  

  • Integrate connections to nature, green space and the lake.  

  • Balance livability with a dynamic community.   

  • Offer more meaningful and empowering engagements.  

Public priorities included: 

  • Dynamic: walkable neighbourhoods, public transit, and high-quality active transportation routes.  

  • Inclusive: affordable housing, public plazas and other public spaces, and civic spaces (community centres, libraries, etc.).  

  • Resilient: green spaces and diversity of plant life, natural stormwater management, and buildings operated by clean low-carbon energy source. 

People tending to plants at a rooftop urban farm

Quayside will be home to a large rooftop urban farm, offering community gardens and local food production. 


Quayside Impact was selected through the international competition as Waterfront Toronto’s development partner for Quayside in February 2022, and a project agreement was completed in December 2022. Their proposal was an ambitious response to these aspirations and priorities. Over the coming months and years, we will work with them to make this vision a reality and create a dynamic, inclusive, and resilient new community.


What’s Next? 

As the development approvals process gets underway for the first phase of Quayside, both Waterfront Toronto and Quayside Impact will continue working with MCFN to engage with Indigenous communities.


And, beginning this spring, we’ll continue working with community members and the many groups that have an interest in the success of Quayside to refine the plans for delivering Quayside’s public realm (led by Waterfront Toronto) and development (led by Quayside Impact). Stay tuned to our website and Quayside Impact’s project website www.QuaysideTO.ca for information on upcoming consultations. 


Interested in reading more? Check out this blog for an overview of the development plan.


Sign up to Waterfront Toronto’s newsletter to keep up to date on this and other projects! 


And, sign up to Quayside Impact’s newsletter to learn about upcoming opportunities to get involved.