Though countless studies have looked into the best way to rejuvenate the lakeside land over the past two decades, practical progress has been slow.

Now a publicly-funded body, the Waterfront, has been given the green light to move the revitalisation of the vast site along and will work with the private sector to deliver a sustainable, mixed use development.

Though the entire site is expected to take upwards of 30 years to complete, the Waterfront has divided it into more easily-manageable pockets of land – with development of the first two of these soon to begin.

While many European cities have accepted the decline of their docklands as hubs of industry, and embraced renovation and redevelopment with gusto, this realisation has been a long time coming in the Canadian city.

“There have been decades of studies – now we’re going to do something about it,” said John Campbell, president and CEO of the Waterfront.

“The waterfront has been ignored for a long period of time, we’re quite late in the game in terms of revitalising.”

But, he said, that came with its own benefits, not only allowing the city to look at the successes and failures of comparable locations but also to take full advantage of environmental advances.

With the site acting as Toronto’s shop window to the world, there is a desire to demonstrate how green the city, province and country can be.

Developers will be required to meet green building standards which are at least as stringent as LEED Gold.

Exactly how they achieve the LEED standard, which is a points based system, is largely down to the developers themselves – but the Waterfront has stipulated that all but the smallest buildings must have green roofs.

Remediation of contaminated land is also writ large on the plans – including on-site soil washing where appropriate – and construction waste created by demolition of existing buildings will also be reused in groundworks.

Development of the whole site is expected to take up to 35 years – with all the changes in architectural taste and good practice that is likely to entail.

But Mr Campbell acknowledged that today’s LEED Gold might be tomorrow’s standard practice and told edie that the environmental benchmark would move over time.

Brownfield redevelopment is a relatively new concept in the vast, resource rich country that is Canada and Toronto is keen to get it right.

The aim is to make the new development accessible to the public , unlike the many waterfronts around the world which cater to the uber-rich or are cut off to all but those who own property there.

Public transport infrastructure will be in place from the outset, rather than an afterthought and parkland will play a big part in the development.

Full details of the development and its separate stage can be found online at

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie