Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation back to all projects
Toronto Waterfront Revitalisation

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Client: Waterfront Toronto

West 8/DuToit Allsopp Hillier
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

  • Multi-phase redevelopment plan encompasses 2,000 acres of city waterfront.
  • Improves public access, expands public transportation.
  • Creates new cultural, recreational and residential opportunities.
Toronto's Lake Ontario waterfront drove the city's industrial and economic growth for much of its history. Now the city is transforming its once industrial shoreline into a world-class cultural, residential and recreational resource. The project master plan envisions that, when fully developed, the waterfront will have 40,000 new residences, create 40,000 new jobs and provide some 740 acres of parks and public space.

Arup has a multidisciplinary role in several aspects of what is to be a decades-long multi-phase revitalisation project that involves some 2,000 acres of underused or derelict land. The firm's work includes transit planning and traffic engineering, civil engineering for road improvements and storm water management, structural engineering advice related to pedestrian bridges and marine structures and sustainability advice.

Along Queens Quay Boulevard, Arup is supporting a project that will transform a 1.9 mile stretch of busy four-lane thoroughfare into a two-lane, tree-lined pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly waterfront promenade, served by public transit.

The Lower Don Lands, an area east of downtown where the Don River meets Lake Ontario, is a central link for three emerging waterfront communities. Plans call for restoring the original route and mouth of the river, adding miles of waterfront property and helping to transform an obsolete industrial port into a sustainable, transit-oriented urban neighbourhood.

Both the Queens Quay and Lower Dons projects draw on Arup's transit planning expertise, one of many disciplines in the firm's scope of work. For the central waterfront area, the client, Waterfront Toronto, and the city undertook environmental assessments focusing on how to improve pedestrian, transit and recreational access along Queens Quay, while preserving workable motor vehicle access to the area.

As part of those assessments, Arup was called on to review two possible light rail routes, one with trains running in the median of a roadway, the other with the train line south of the roadway adjacent to a waterfront recreational trail. The latter, deemed more pedestrian-friendly and affording greater public access, was selected.

To help show how a narrowed Queens Quay Boulevard would not negatively affect area traffic, Arup used cutting-edge simulations to demonstrate anticipated traffic and transit flows. Local officials thus gained a comfort level for a plan that promotes sustainability by reducing vehicle traffic and improving public transit.

Arup's transit planning and engineering for the Lower Don Lands revitalisation work involves designing new and enhanced railroad underpasses that will reconnect the area to downtown and adjacent neighbourhoods. Planners are also reviewing what to do with an existing elevated expressway that runs through the site. For a planned light rail system, Arup is designing track alignment, determining station locations, analysing demand and capacity and assessing interoperability with existing transportation services.