who we are
The Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto created Waterfront Toronto in 2001 to oversee and lead the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. The key drivers of the waterfront revitalization are reconnecting people with the waterfront, design excellence, sustainable development, economic development and fiscal sustainability.
Waterfront Toronto is a corporation funded by three levels of government. These government bodies have provided seed capital for a 25-year mandate to transform 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of brownfield lands on Toronto’s waterfront into beautiful, accessible, sustainable mixed-use communities and dynamic public spaces. A strong, expert and engaged 12-member Board of Directors, appointed by the three levels of government, oversees the strategic direction.
There are however weaknesses in the Corporation’s governance model which significantly impact Waterfront Toronto’s ability to deliver results. This is especially the case now that the corporation has moved from planning to development implementation and the active engagement of the private sector. Most problematic is the fact that the corporation is funded on a single project by project basis. Further, Waterfront Toronto has no powers to borrow, mortgage or raise funds, enter joint ventures or create subsidiaries. The current governance and funding structure limits the corporation’s ability to act nimbly, strategically and deliver its mandate on a timely and efficient basis.
Several outside experts have confirmed that an organization with the scope and scale of mandate such as Waterfront Toronto’s requires the planning, financial tools and authorities to enable successful revitalization.
Operational governance is under discussion with governments and Waterfront Toronto has received their agreement in principle to move towards enhanced operational tools. We pursue those discussions with a view to securing the required authorities by the end of this fiscal year.
When Waterfront Toronto was established, the three orders of government each committed $500 million in seed capital to enable the organization to begin the revitalization process. The vast majority of the land in the waterfront revitalization area is owned by the governments and they also gave the organization development control over their land.
To facilitate our revitalization program, Waterfront Toronto works with public and private partners who buy the land for development. Waterfront Toronto’s funding model leverages the public capital by working with private development partners who buy the land for development, and the money earned is used to further fund public infrastructure.
As a tri-government organization, Waterfront Toronto is fully accountable to the governments of Canada, Ontario and the City of Toronto. Waterfront Toronto’s priorities are set jointly, annually, with its government partners. Each government approves all of its funding to Waterfront Toronto through detailed and binding contribution agreements. Funding for each project and in many cases phases of projects is administered through contributions agreements, as is corporate annual spending. Contribution agreements are based on an annual tri-government negotiated long-term funding plan, which is approved by Toronto City Council, the Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and the Federal Minister of Finance.
revitalization cost estimates
The cost of revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront was originally estimated (in 2001) at $17 billion, of which $4.3 billion would be funded from the public sector and remaining $12.7 billion from the private sector. Due to escalation in construction costs, the cost of revitalization is now estimated to be $34 billion. Additional public sector funding was expected to be provided through public-private partnerships consistent with the Corporation’s mandate. Such partnerships require Waterfront Toronto to identify either a separate revenue stream and/or a separate project or service. The first of this type of partnership was completed in 2010/11 through the introduction of intelligent communities.
value for money
Investment in revitalization on Toronto's Waterfront is already delivering significant economic value. Since inception to March 31, 2011 Waterfront Toronto and its three government partners invested $769.5 million in projects that have unlocked $10 billion of potential private sector investment and created new public spaces, municipal infrastructure and tourism amenities.
investments to date:
- $219.6 million in municipal infrastructure, utilities and flood protection primarily in East Bayfront and West Don Lands. By building this infrastructure, 26 hectares of land is serviced and unlocked for development.
- $113.6 million in land acquisition to assemble development blocks for future private sector investment.
- $161 million to create and/or improve 17 parks or public spaces including building Canada’s Sugar Beach, Sherbourne Common, the water’s edge promenade, wavedecks, sports fields, revitalized trails and waterfront parks in Scarborough and Etobicoke.
- $230.1 million for development approvals, master planning, and environmental approvals which has unlocked $10 billion in potential private sector investment in waterfront revitalization.
- $45.2 million has been invested in corporate overhead during the past 10 year, which is 4.7 percent of total spending to date. The majority of this has gone to salaries, rent and IT expense. Just over $4 million has gone towards consulting services.
- In addition to the $769.5 million, a further $195.4 million of waterfront revitalization funding has been utilized for government directed investments including $130 million for Go Transit expansion and $25 million for the Union Pearson rail link, and $9.3 million for waterfront secretariats staff salary costs (Federal and City) and other City staff resources.
To date Waterfront Toronto has concluded public and private sector development deals valued at $1.475 billion, far exceeding the $965 million of public funding spent to date.
Our investments provide the confidence and certainty that have drawn national and international developers to the waterfront.
breakdown of private sector investments:
- Bayside development, designed by Cesar Pelli and developed by Hines, is a $800 million private sector project;
- Parkside development (Monde), designed by Moshe Safdie and developed by Great Gulf Group, represent a $200 million in private sector investment;
- River City, designed Saucier & Perrott and developed by Urban Capital, represents $300 million in private sector investment
- George Brown Health Science campus which will bring 3,500 students to the waterfront in 2012 represents about $175 million in public/private sector investment.
return on investment
Waterfront revitalization is already delivering significant economic returns. From 2001 through March 31, 2011, Waterfront Toronto and its government partners invested $769.5 million in redevelopment projects.
Toronto taxpayers have benefited greatly from the tri-government Waterfront Toronto initiative. As of March 31 2011, overall Waterfront Toronto has invested approximately $965 million dollars ($769.5 million + $195.4 million) of which $458.9 million (48 percent) of the money invested was contributed by the federal government, $330 million (34 percent) was contributed by the provincial government and $176 million (18 percent) was from the City of Toronto.
The returns on the investment in waterfront revitalization will dramatically increase over time. In addition to the long-term economic benefits from business development and tourism, upon full build out the City will receive approximately $136 million in annual property taxes from East Bayfront, West Don Lands and the Lower Don Lands. In East Bayfront the increased and incremental property tax assessment is estimated to be approximately $6 billion. In West Don Lands the increased and incremental property tax assessment is estimated at $3.7 billion.
impact of public investment
Investments as of March 31, 2010 have generated: 9,700 full-time years of employment, $1.9 billion of gross output for the Canadian economy, and government revenues of $207 million to the federal government, $143 million to the provincial government and $23 million to Toronto.
Read Waterfront Toronto financial statements and management reports. More
learn who we are
Find out about the three governments behind our waterfront revitalization. More
board of directors
Discover our board of directors, who serves on it, and learn about its mandate and committees. More
A look at Waterfront Toronto’s senior management team. More
design review panel
Learn about the independent advisory body that guides and informs the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront. More
Take a look at the design teams Waterfront Toronto works with to envision and elevate our waterfront communities. More