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.
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.
We expect that at Toronto Executive Committee meeting in early May, the project will be part of a “Priority Transit Expansion Projects” item with a business case for funding for both the Waterfront East LRT and the Eglinton East LRT Extension in Scarborough.
City of Toronto website: Waterfront East LRT Extension
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Forum Equity Partners | President, NAIOP Greater Toronto
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
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.
Executive Director, 8 80 Cities
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.
President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council
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.
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.
Program Director, STEPS Public Art
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.
Founder, Principal Lawyer, Nazarian Law Professional Corporation
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
Chair, Toronto Community Benefits Network
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
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
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.
Mayor of Toronto from 1972 - 1978
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.
CEO, Exhibition Place Toronto
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.
President, East Waterfront Community Association
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.
Director & Artistic Director, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
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
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
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
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.
Principal, Greenberg Consultants
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.
President & CEO, Colleges Ontario
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.
CEO, Harbourfront Centre
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.
Technical Lead, HousingNowTO.com
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.
President & CEO, Porter Airlines
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.
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.
President, Carpenters District Council of Ontario
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.
CEO, Nieuport Aviation
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.
Executive Director, Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario
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.
Artist, Waterfront Business Owner, Resident and Amirah's Mom
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.
Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, University of Toronto
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
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.
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.
CEO, MaRS Discovery District