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Building the Waterfront East LRT now -- Toronto's next transit priority

On June 15, 2022, City Council advanced a report with next steps for priority transit projects, including the Waterfront East LRT. The report recommended continued design to return with a funding and implementation plan in Q2 2023.

Item at Executive Committee: EX33.2 Advancing City Priority Transit Expansion Projects

STATEMENT: Why we need the Waterfront East LRT now – More than 40 businesses and civic leaders agree.

The opportunity

Toronto has an enormous  opportunity to maximize the potential of the eastern waterfront and the Port Lands. The area is the biggest development opportunity in North America over the coming decades, with the Port Lands representing an area roughly the size of the existing downtown core.  Currently being flood protected, the Port Lands will be ready for significant development by 2025. Ensuring the eastern waterfront and Port Lands reach their full potential for economic growth, housing opportunities, and climate benefits will depend on funding being committed for the Waterfront East LRT by all levels of government soon.

Waterfront East LRT

Design and engineering ready to go

The City of Toronto has long-term plans to develop a full Waterfront Transit Network that would extend east into the Port Lands, and west all the way to Long Branch at the Mississauga border. With all the development currently underway, the most urgent section of this Waterfront Transit Network is eastern portion that will connect through the revitalized Port Lands.

Currently, initial work is underway on the first phase of the Waterfront East LRT, running east from Union Station to the Port Lands at Cherry Street. This initial work is to reach 30% of the project’s design and engineering, making the project eligible for full funding consideration. 

City of Toronto website: Waterfront East LRT Extension

Why we need the Waterfront East LRT right now

 Economic development, recovery, and growth:

The Waterfront East LRT will maximize the potential for housing, jobs, public amenities, and cultural opportunities along the waterfront and through the Port Lands.

Affordable housing:

The potential for additional housing density in the Port Lands makes it the biggest opportunity in the country to develop affordable housing that is well-connected to downtown employment zones.

Equity:

The waterfront’s development has led to several beautiful new parks and leisure opportunities for people across Toronto. Further development along the water, connected by public transit, allows the waterfront to truly become “Toronto’s backyard” for people from all across the city who are looking for more green space to enjoy. 

Environment:

Building Public Transit while the Port Lands are being developed, allows for transit connections to be in place before the neighborhood becomes dependent on private vehicles. Having the LRT in place as the Port Lands develop will increase development density, and demonstrate the foresight sustainable cities need in urban planning.

Economic Impact Study:  The benefits of building now instead of later  

Economic growth

Tax revenue increase by 2045 with LRT in place by 2025:

$9 billion federal tax revenue

$3.8 billion provincial tax revenue

$10 billion municipal tax revenue

$22.8 billion total tax revenue uplift

Housing solutions 

The growth of the eastern waterfront and Port Lands will only speed up with the LRT in place:

25,000+ new housing units along the LRT route from 2025-2045 accommodating 67,000+ residents.

Climate Solutions

Having transit in place first will decrease reliance on vehicles.

44% decrease in automobile use by incoming workers and residents with the LRT in place. 100 million fewer commuting hours, a productivity savings of $1.8 billion.

You can also view our Waterfront East LRT advocacy page here.

Supporters from across Toronto

Business leaders from across the City of Toronto are speaking up in support of getting the Waterfront East LRT built now. We will add to this section as more are adding their support.

Ahmed Ismail Waterfront East LRT Support

When you look at any resilient city that is currently thriving they do it considering all members of society. As a leader of programming that invests in creating more young entrepreneurs it is vital that we triple down on our transit infrastructure as it has been confirmed that this new generation's priorities have shifted which is why they have ditched buying vehicles in droves. With HXOUSE anchored and invested in the cultural and spiritual development of the waterfront we realize everyday the vitality of having access to affordable transportation for our tenants who travel from all over.

Ahmed Ismail

Founder and CEO, HXOUSE

Aly Damji Waterfront East LRT Support

NAIOP Greater Toronto members represent the leading commercial and mixed-use developers responsible for some of the most exciting developments across the City of Toronto. Toronto is a vibrant and growing world-class City, attracting businesses from around the world as we continue to build on our reputation as an epicentre of financial services, technology, and entertainment.  The Waterfront East LRT is a vital step in our growth as we tap into the full potential of the City’s incredible waterfront and all it has to offer to residents and businesses.

Aly Damji

Forum Equity Partners | President, NAIOP Greater Toronto

Waterfront East LRT Support Dental Centres

We recently invested in an expansion to two Dental Centres along the waterfront because we believe in Toronto’s potential to grow as a waterfront city. Queens Quay provides a mix of urban elegance and charm, and a substantial range of services within walking distance of transit. This must continue with investments from all levels of government with the Waterfront East LRT.

Drs. Ali and Amir Khadivi & Cindy Caklos

dentalcentres.com

Waterfront East LRT Support Amanda O'Rourke

Investing in public transit is an essential ingredient for creating the healthy, sustainable and equitable cities we need. Toronto’s waterfront is one of the most stunning assets that make our city truly special. It is a place that should be accessible and enjoyed by everyone in the city. If we want to achieve the ambitious vision of a waterfront for all, the Waterfront East LRT is a key investment to getting us there.

Amanda O'Rourke

Executive Director, 8 80 Cities

Ana Serrano Waterfront East LRT Support

OCAD University is embedded in Toronto’s Waterfront neighbourhood through our innovation studios and strategic foresight hub on Queens Quay East and our forthcoming site at the Bathurst Quay silos. New transit infrastructure projects—like the Waterfront East LRT—are what is needed to transport students, faculty and staff to the classroom and studio. As we continue to expand the campus throughout the city, we need transit expansion projects like this one to increase access to knowledge and research and culture, not only for our community but all of Toronto. We are very supportive of this project

Ana Serrano

President, OCAD University

Waterfront East LRT Support

Labour Council supports the Waterfront East LRT as a vital link in our publicly owned, publicly operated Toronto transit system. This project can be a win for everyone as it opens up development with a mix of affordable housing as well as employment land, helps the environment and embraces community benefits policies to ensure good careers for our diverse communities.

Andria Babbington

President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council

Waterfront East LRT Support Angelo Bertolas

With development increasing at a rapid pace along Queens Quay East and the Portlands, the area has reached a critical point. The area is in critical need of efficient and reliable transportation to support the significant influx of residents, businesses, educational institutions and visitors. The proposed LRT is fundamental to meeting these needs and ensuring that the area achieves its full potential. As the LRT will take a great deal of time to construct it is critical that the approval and funding of this essential infrastructure is committed by all levels of government immediately. The Toronto Waterfront is a key ingredient for the future economic growth of our City, we must not miss out on this critical opportunity to ensure our success.

Angelo Bertolas

Chair, YQNA

Waterfront East LRT Support STEPS Public Art Anjuli Solanki

As an organization committed to fostering equitable, livable, vibrant, and sustainable communities, we feel that effective transportation is an important ingredient in realizing this. STEPS Public Art has been a proud member of Toronto's burgeoning Waterfront and supports forward thinking urban development that better connects neighbourhoods across the city and with the waterfront. The Waterfront East LRT is an essential component in building a more inclusive and connected community. 

Anjulia Solanki

Program Director, STEPS Public Art

Armen Nazarian Waterfront East LRT Support

A critical piece of public transit infrastructure, the Waterfront East LRT will ensure the connectivity along the City of Toronto’s waterfront by utilizing sustainable, convenient and reliable methods of transportation. As a board member of the Waterfront B.I.A. and the owner of a local business, I am proud to support this much needed development.

Armen Nazarian

Founder, Principal Lawyer, Nazarian Law Professional Corporation

Waterfront East LRT Support Art Eggleton

Much has been accomplished in bringing our Toronto waterfront to new life with places for people to live, work, dine, enjoy parks, entertainment and have fun. The Port Lands continues that growth in the east end of the waterfront.  What is needed now is access, and public transit is key. It's time to make sure the Waterfront East LRT is built to connect it all.

Art Eggleton

Mayor of Toronto (1980-1991)

Arthur Fleischmann Waterfront East LRT Support

The WPP Campus on Toronto’s Waterfront will be an inclusive co-location serving our team of 2,500 people and our clients. The new campus will house WPP’s diverse group of companies under one roof and offer state of the art space and technology to support agility, integration, creativity, and collaboration. As we strive to bring our people back to office after more than two years working remotely, the Waterfront East LRT is a priority to have in place soon to deliver on the potential of the new campus and the Toronto Region as a whole.

Arthur Fleischmann

Country Manager, WPP

This is currently the fastest growing and most important new area in our City. The Waterfront LRT is good for jobs and workers, for businesses, for residents, and for the environment. As we renew the Port Lands, let’s make sure we get it right with safe, reliable transit that connects to the entire city.

Barbara Hall

Mayor of Toronto (1994-1997)

Waterfront East LRT Support Cam Parra

The East Bayfront community is an engaged neighbourhood which prides itself on the balance of passionate residents and visitors from across the city who are looking for an ideal blend of mobility, accessibility, and waterfront delight. As one of the first independent restaurant groups in the East Bayfront community and a leader in the hospitality sector, we have always believed in the impact that this community will continue to have on Toronto and its residents. The Waterfront East LRT would not only enhance access to unique entertainment & dining opportunities but also directly support the economic longevity of this city and its entrepreneurs for years to come.

Cam Parra

Vice President, FAB Restaurant Concepts Inc.

Waterfront East LRT Support Chris Campbell

Solid infrastructure lays the foundation on which cities are built. We will continue to advocate for safe and efficient transit – projects like the Waterfront East LRT that help build an inclusive, thriving city in which all residents have equitable opportunities to contribute to healthy communities and a prospering economy. Let’s make sure we continue to enable residents to help build the city they love

Chris Campbell

Chair, Toronto Community Benefits Network

Kinetic Labs Headshot Waterfront LRT Support

Our mission is to help people live a healthy, active lifestyle. We’re proud to be located along the waterfront where we can see running, walking and cycling along the water’s edge and Martin Goodman Trail every day. We’re very excited to see the continued growth in access to waterfront recreation opportunities through the Port Lands, all connected with the Waterfront East LRT.

Corey Persic and Katie Yamamoto

Owners, Kinetic Labs

Waterfront East LRT Support West Don Lands

The West Don Lands is the first of many planned communities on the Eastern Waterfront. Its success has been due in large part to its excellent public transit connections. As the Eastern Waterfront communities continue to grow, it will be essential for their success that they are served by the Waterfront East LRT. Our experience teaches us that public transit is essential for a diverse, inclusive, vibrant urban community.

Cynthia Wilkey & John Wilson

Co-chairs, West Don Lands Committee

Waterfront East LRT Support David Crombie

The Waterfront East LRT will be good for the economy, good for the environment and will bring substantial revenues to the coffers of the municipal, provincial and federal governments. We hope all three levels of government will help fund the Waterfront East LRT, and into the Port Lands.

David Crombie

Mayor of Toronto from 1972 - 1978

Don Boyle Waterfront East LRT Support Ontario Exhibition Place

The foundation of every great city includes an accessible public transportation system built in such a manner that it becomes the obvious option for people traversing the city. Given the imminent development within the East Bayfront and Port Lands, the construction of the Waterfront East LRT is an essential step in supporting affordable housing, economic development and outdoor recreational initiatives planned for the area. In addition, fast tracking the LRT in advance of a build out will serve to attract business investment and expedite development towards the goal of a more sustainable city.

Don Boyle

CEO, Exhibition Place Toronto

David Chan Waterfront East LRT Support

When the extensive redevelopment of the East Bayfront is completed there will be over 30,000 new residents plus several million square feet of commercial, hotel and retail space that will offer tremendous economic and job opportunities for our community. Additionally, with the planned revitalization of Parliament Slip and the Quayside project featuring a new Cultural Centre for the public realm, this location will be a major tourist destination. Safe and inclusive public transportation is essential to helping people move through and experience this incredible part of our city. It is time to fast track the Waterfront East LRT and improve public transit connectivity to sustain the growth planned and make the east downtown area accessible to all.

David Chan

President, East Waterfront Community Association

Waterfront East LRT Support Gaetane Verna

For the past 35 years, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery has been a destination for thought-provoking art and ideas. Situated on Toronto’s waterfront at Harbourfront Centre, the gallery is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we champion these core values through our exhibiting artists, staff, board members, and the communities we serve. Our goal is to attract 100,000 visitors annually, and the development of the Waterfront East LRT will undoubtedly provide more transit options for our visitors and make The Power Plant more accessible to everyone.

Gaëtane Verna

Director & Artistic Director, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

Dr. Gervan Fearon Waterfront East LRT Support

One of the building blocks of vibrant, inclusive communities is accessible transit networks. In the decade since launching George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus, we have seen the East Bayfront community evolve and grow. We have been part of these developments and aim to engage and support the waterfront’s future. But transit options for students, residents and local businesses remain limited, and there are great opportunities to improve for the future. The creation of the Waterfront East LRT would increase access for 8,000 students travelling to this campus from across the GTA, and ensure that East Bayfront has the infrastructure needed for future vitality and growth.

Dr. Gervan Fearon

President, George Brown College

Grace Lee Reynolds CEO Artscape Waterfront East LRT Support

Artscape Daniels Launchpad, a unique creative entrepreneurship hub, is part of a burgeoning community working at the intersection of creativity and innovation that is exciting and awaiting engagement at East Bayfront.  Public transit is the equitable means to make the waterfront accessible for people to be here to work, learn, live and experience.  Creativity is powered by people and post-pandemic, people need to mobilize again, making a Waterfront East LRT more crucial than ever.

Grace Lee Reynolds

CEO, Artscape

Waterfront East LRT Support The Bentway Ilana Atlman David Carey

At The Bentway, we believe that the Gardiner Expressway can, and, must be re-imagined as a key gateway to the Waterfront, including emerging civic opportunities for expanded public space and programming along its length. But these public spaces are only as strong as the pathways and routes we build for Torontonians to reach them. Toronto needs the Waterfront East LRT now to fulfill the promise of connectivity across the downtown core.

Ilana Altman & David Carey

Co-Executive Directors, The Bentway Conservancy

Jack Oliveira Waterfront East LRT Support

Toronto's growth this decade on the eastern waterfront has been incredible. The Waterfront East LRT must be funded and built to ensure the Port Lands continues on that trajectory of creating more housing and employment opportunities that will support the next generation of skilled tradespeople in Toronto and make their contribution to the city's future in the Port Lands.

Jack Oliveira

Business Manager, LiUNA Local 183

Waterfront East LRT Support Jan De Silva Toronto and Region Board of Trade

Toronto’s eastern downtown waterfront is an emerging hub of urban renewal. Thousands of new residents and jobs are pouring into the area, and the consensus is that this growth will only accelerate going forward. The Waterfront East LRT will amplify this growth and guarantee that the city can maximize the economic and business opportunities it presents. Without it, Toronto risks missing out on billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Jan De Silva

President & CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade

Ken Greenberge Headshot Waterfront LRT Support

One of the most important things we can do as a city is to play our part in getting to a more sustainable future by giving people access to reliable convenient transit. A vast new frontier is opening up on the Toronto waterfront from East Bayfront to Quayside and the Port Lands. The long-awaited Waterfront East LRT will serve these communities and the many thousands of visitors who increasingly come to enjoy the waterfront’s parks, promenades and cultural amenities, ensuring the fundamental publicness of an accessible waterfront that belongs to all Torontonians.

Ken Greenberg

Principal, Greenberg Consultants

Linda Franklin Headshot Waterfront LRT Support

Colleges Ontario supports the proposed Waterfront East LRT. Effective transit is essential to the growing numbers of post-secondary students in the area, including those at Collège Boréal, George Brown College and Collège La Cité. Providing more students with access to the high-quality programs at colleges will improve the vibrancy of the waterfront and help ensure Toronto’s future workforce has the expertise to succeed.

Linda Franklin

President & CEO, Colleges Ontario

Waterfront East LRT Support Harbourfront Centre Marah Braye

Toronto’s Waterfront East LRT is an exceptional opportunity for our City. It is a much-needed lever to achieve significant economic growth and business development, and enhance the waterfront with additional parks and spaces for the public to enjoy. It also offers myriad possibilities for a sustainable neighbourhood on the edge of downtown and through the Port Lands, and provides critical infrastructure for visitors – from Toronto and elsewhere – to experience all that the city has to offer in arts and culture on our beautiful waterfront.

Marah Braye

CEO, Harbourfront Centre

Waterfront East LRT Support Mark Richardson HousingNowTO

When our volunteers talk about creating new transit-oriented affordable housing in Toronto, the first word in that description is always 'TRANSIT!' – Quayside, Villiers Island and the Port Lands  are amazing opportunities to deliver new long-term affordable rental housing in Toronto, but those sites only makes sense if all levels of government come together quickly to approve the Waterfront East LRT to Cherry Street, and beyond.

Mark Richardson

Technical Lead, HousingNowTO.com

Waterfront East LRT Support Porter Airlines Michael Deluce

Porter's hub at Billy Bishop Airport is part of an integrated transportation network that supports a vibrant, continually evolving waterfront community. The existing Queen's Quay streetcar is an important connection for the airport, linking directly to Union Station. The proposed Waterfront East LRT will create practical new connectivity for people to enjoy this showcase section of the city.

Michael Deluce

President & CEO, Porter Airlines

Waterfront East LRT Support Michael Nobrega

Surveys and interviews with the technology teams working in Toronto’s downtown digital, biotech, cleantech and AI hubs consider the availability of subways, street cars and rail a key differentiator in their selection of workplace opportunities. The development of an LRT on the Eastern Waterfront and into the Port Lands will, therefore, be a key driver to attract some of the brightest and best young Canadian and global innovators to relocate or seek tech employment opportunities or to establish startups on Toronto’s waterfront – and hence make the waterfront a vibrant, successful and sustainable innovation hub.

Michael Nobrega

Waterfront East LRT Support Mike Yorke

Infrastructure is absolutely crucial to any healthy city. In particular, as Toronto continues to grow in size and population, it is essential to have a transit system that keeps our neighbourhoods connected. The Waterfront East LRT will link thousands of housing units to mass transit, making our city far more accessible. This is a project that will lay the foundation for the future.

Mike Yorke

President, Carpenters District Council of Ontario

Neil Pakey Headshot Waterfront LRT Support

As a proud partner of the Waterfront community, Nieuport Aviation strongly supports transport infrastructure projects that enable the Waterfront access and improve connectivity for all. The proposed Waterfront East LRT will improve connections between neighbourhoods as well as reducing congestion, and improving the overall use of public space. It will also help our inbound visitors navigate their way from our airport to the City. This will be of significant benefit to our economy and we encourage the Province to expediate the planning, funding and delivery of this important new travel corridor for Toronto's Waterfront.

Neil Pakey

CEO, Nieuport Aviation

Nathalie Lalonde Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown Waterfront East LRT Support

A significant obstacle for post-pandemic hotel and tourism recovery in Toronto has been the traffic situation, and it’s only getting worse. We need smart public transit solutions now to improve the flow of people in and out of our downtown, and reduce the reliance on vehicles. As we continue to see travel demand return, we are also planning for the return of international travelers over the coming years. The Waterfront East LRT will make it easier for international travelers to discover all that Toronto has to offer.

Nathalie Lalonde

General Manager, Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown

Waterfront East LRT Support Nadia Todorova Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario

Building the Waterfront LRT is critical for Toronto to realize its goals of increasing transit infrastructure that supports additional housing density. More transit infrastructure facilitates more housing, strengthening both our economy and communities for decades to come.

Nadia Todorova

Executive Director, Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario

Pat Dunn City Cruises Toronto Waterfront East LRT Support

Since 1987, our harbour cruise and charter operations have expanded alongside truly incredible growth of Toronto’s waterfront. Previously an industrial area, the growth of tourist experiences, parks, residents and downtown workers here has shown the tremendous potential Toronto has on its waterfront. The Waterfront East LRT will further unlock that potential through the eastern waterfront and the Port Lands, and we look forward to growing our waterfront operations alongside it.

Patt Dunn

General Manager, City Cruises Toronto

Peter Gillis Westin Harbour Castle Waterfront East LRT Support

The Westin Harbour Castle Hotel has been an anchor of the Toronto Waterfront since 1975 greeting Torontonians, local Ontarians and travellers from all over the world. We are extremely proud of our Neighborhood’s diversity, vibrancy, geographic location, and evolution.  From our doorsteps we have witnessed, supported, and engaged in the renewal and development of our Waterfront.  We believe in and support environmental sustainability, economic growth & business development, and believe a fully accessible transit network aligns with our core values of opportunity for people and business alike and strengthens our community in the process, and thus the Westin Harbour Castle fully supports and sees the importance of the proposed Waterfront East LRT.

Peter Gillis

General Manager, Westin Harbour Castle

Waterfront East LRT Support Queen Kukoyi

As a mother and Black Queer Futurist, I am always thinking of how we can collectively build inclusive future spaces that catalyze new streams of thought. The Port Lands is an opportunity to explore a human centered approach through speculative imagination to catalyze streams of new thought that envision an inclusive future society.

Queen Kukoyi

Artist, Waterfront Business Owner, Resident and Amirah's Mom

Silvia Pencak Waterfront East LRT Support

At WBE Canada we're focused on building connections and removing barriers that continue to exist between corporate and government supply chains and Canadian women-owned businesses. It is exciting to witness Canada’s governments, at all levels, realize the incredible potential of our diverse communities. Building more public transit in the City of Toronto and the region is an absolute necessity to ensure the continued growth of our economy. We strongly support Toronto’s next public transit project, including the Waterfront East LRT and are excited for the untold opportunities and the potential of the Port Lands.

Silvia Pencak

President & CEO, Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada)

Waterfront East LRT Support Scott Mabury

The Waterfront LRT will spur jobs and innovation. When built in the years ahead, the LRT will directly service the 2,000 employees of the new Waterfront Innovation Centre, which will be opening in the summer of 2022. The LRT will be a catalyst for high-value jobs in the growing East Bayfront area, and for economic development in the Greater Toronto Area. The U of T and MaRS are proud partners of the new Innovation Centre and on behalf of our students, staff, faculty and visitors, we support the building of Toronto's next Council-approved transit priorities: the Waterfront LRT, and also the Eglinton East LRT that will serve the University of Toronto - Scarborough.

Scott Mabury

Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, University of Toronto

Sri Krishna Rajan Headshot Waterfront LRT Support

The expansion and growth of GBC’s Limberlost Place and the quayside project set a stunning example of an extraordinary net-zero carbon neighbourhood. But with limited transit options and dependencies on non-renewable fueled transit systems, commuting challenges for students and residents remain the same. Waterfront East’s LRT expansion will not only improve the accessibility of the campus but will also aid in a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, reducing the impact on our students’ health.

Sri Krishna Rajan

Director of Communications and Internal, Student Association of George Brown College

Tim Hudak Headshot Waterfront East LRT Support

Toronto’s true potential is on the waterfront. The development and economic opportunities offered by this parcel of land is truly once-in-a-generation. A new transit corridor like the Waterfront East LRT, which Ontario REALTORS® highlight in The Ten Infrastructure Projects For A More Competitive Ontario report, will connect under-served and high-density communities and accelerate the creation and delivery of new homes. By supporting and delivering important projects like this, we can further unlock the economic potential of the city and help Torontonians save two precious commodities – time and money – improving quality of life.

Tim Hudak

CEO, OREA

Waterfront East LRT Support Yung Wu MaRS Discovery District

Our new Waterfront Innovation Centre will attract global talent and investment. As we continue to solidify Toronto as a premier destination for the innovation economy, transit infrastructure, such as the Waterfront East LRT, will play a vital role in connecting the city’s growing eastern waterfront Port Lands community to the city’s high-growth innovation ecosystem.

Yung Wu

CEO, MaRS Discovery District