by Linda Montgomery

Back in 2006, the Waterfront Magazine summer edition included Waterfront Vision 2020, a series of articles on plans for revitalizing the Toronto Waterfront and the players behind it. At the time the Waterfront area, from the Port Lands to Bathurst Street, was mostly underutilized industrial lands and condo buildings, with a spattering of tourism, recreation and retail. Many Torontonians were skeptical a “world-class” Toronto Waterfront would ever become reality. 

Looking back at that edition of ten years ago, we interviewed Toronto’s then mayor David Miller, we explored a bid to host the long-way-off Expo 2015, we showcased the Harbourfront Center− then anticipating future upgrades to surrounding boardwalk and pier areas and the extensive Queens Quay street redevelopment, and we wrote about the formation of the Waterfront’s first neighbourhood associations. We also profiled the government and city development agencies still in the early stages of collaborating on a Waterfront vision and master plan − the first time they had come together in unity on this since 1912.

No update on the Waterfront’s vision would be complete without acknowledging the role of Waterfront Toronto. Established for only four years back in 2006, their 25-year mandate is to transform the waterfront into a beautiful, accessible, sustainable, mixed-use community with dynamic public spaces. As well as overseeing all planning and development, they bring government and the private sector together to execute on building the vibrant waterfront we have emerging today. Ten years ago the rebuilding and revitalization of Queens Quay, East Bayfront, West Donlands, and Port Lands areas were all in conception and planning stages, today they constitute the largest urban redevelopment project currently underway in North America.

In this edition of Waterfront Magazine, we gathered some updates reflecting the Waterfront development and community today. We look at the Harbourfront Center, already a long time internationally renowned cultural institution, that continues to innovate pushing the boundaries on contemporary art, music, artist development, and programming. Our island airport has always attracted a high degree of neighbourhood interest; we go through a timeline leading to last year’s decision on commercial jets. 

A PortsToronto update looks at new sustainability initiatives benefiting Waterfront residents. We present the remarkable revitalization of areas under the Gardiner Expressway, providing unique public spaces and connectivity to the Waterfront.  And finally, a story of compassionate and philanthropic activism, Friends of Syria get some help from the Waterfront neighbourhood.