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Kortright Centre building experimental subdivision

Imagine a subdivision of homes of the future—energy efficient, sustainable, accessible—where nobody lives, but is visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
That’s what the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is building at its Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan. Construction will start in the next couple of weeks on the new BRE Innovation Park at the Living City Campus at Kortright. Although there are BRE (Building Research Establishment) parks in other countries, this will be Canada’s first, providing a stage for builders and suppliers to test new materials, products and building techniques and share the results with industry, government and academic researchers.
The site is already home to the Archetype Sustainable House, which showcases sustainable technologies, materials and practices. But over the next few years, that anchor project will be joined by seven new buildings of about 1,000 square feet each, forming a small inhabitant-less community. Installing the infrastructure will cost about $2 million—the City of Vaughan requires the project to be linked into the municipal sewer system—but much of the labour and material will be donated by partners eager to demonstrate how their innovative products and techniques can create more sustainable communities.
“Each of those new buildings will be built to different performance targets for water efficiency, energy efficiency, accessibility, etc. It’s basically a sandbox to test and evaluate green building technologies,” says Glenn MacMillan, senior manager of water and energy at TRCA. Some of the buildings, like the visitor’s centre that is being built by Ellis Don, will be owned by the authority, while others will be owned by the developer for up to five years.
 Although no one will live at the subdivision, the buildings will be tested for their liveability by the many visitors and by staff. “We can simulate as if someone is living there for research purposes,” says MacMillan. “We can control lightbulbs, heat, toilet flush, turn on washing machines. We have staff in the Archetype House doing research now so there are people coming and going all the time.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Glenn MacMillan

UTSCís secondary plan balances growth and nature

Since approving its master plan in 2011, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) has invested almost a half a billion dollars in infrastructure, including the $205-million Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building and the Instructional Centre.
But that’s only the beginning of the reinvention of the campus, which will eventually be linked to rapid transit by the Crosstown LRT, making it more accessible to students, staff and the wider community.
“The opportunities here are just accelerating, I think, and we want to be able to leverage the best opportunities we can,” says Brent Duguid, director of partnerships and legal counsel at UTSC.
Last month UTSC held a public open house to examine its draft secondary plan, which will provide a finer grain rollout of the masterplan. Several new development projects are currently in the planning stages, including Highland Hall, which is the redevelopment of the old athletic centre that’s been replaced by the Pan Am complex, a new parking structure and a 750-bed undergraduate student residence, which will double the number of student beds at UTSC. A feasibility study for a hotel and conference centre is also in the works. Military Trail, which cuts diagonally across the campus, is being re-aligned, with at-grade retail uses encouraged along it to create an animated and vibrant streetscape and to compensate for the lack of shopping and eating in the area surrounding the sprawling campus. “The larger open spaces will be augmented by a series of walkways, landscaped streets, courtyards, lawns and other open spaces that will provide for an enhanced campus setting” states the presentation delivered at the open house.
Despite all the new building, the secondary plan aims to maintain the campus’ relationship with the Highland Creek Ravine, preserving natural and open space particularly in the south of the campus. “It is anticipated that some development, particularly the transit investments and realignment of Military Trail, may impact some of natural resources,” states the open house presentation. “Any impacts will be mitigated through restoration and renaturalization programs elsewhere on campus to ensure a net benefit overall to the campus natural heritage system.”
Duguid says the draft secondary plan should be ready for the City of Toronto to review within the next month.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Brent Duguid

Thriving spaces need more than good design, says Park People report

As the province reviews changes to its growth plans for Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Area and the Niagara Escarpment, the advocacy group Park People is making a case for the importance of creating and sustaining vital public spaces in increasingly densely populated environments.
Its new Thriving Spaces report is something of a toolkit for planners, politicians and other decision makers to get them to think creatively about ensuring that our growing and densifying communities still have space to play and relax. “I also hope that the report places an emphasis on partnerships and people as well as design. We often focus very heavily on design when we talk about parks and public spaces, but the people who use those spaces, the types of activities they want to see there and how they can become more involved in these spaces, need to be considered,” says report author Jake Tobin Garrett, manager of policy and research at Park People.
The report examines 15 case studies, ranging from 11 Wellesley West, used as an example of how to consolidate space while work with developers, to Simcoe Promenade in Markham, used as an example of how linear parks can link residents, retail, and other green spaces. Although ideas that have worked in one community can be borrowed and adapted for other places, rising real estate prices and the density of established communities can create particular challenges.
“It requires planning for new categories of parks such as linear parks and urban squares, but also expanding the scope of the open space network to include opportunities in our infrastructure corridors, schoolyards, streets, and other public spaces,” states the report. “It includes creative designs that leverage adjacent street space as flexible, shared space and all-year amenities that provide people with activities whether it’s hot or cold outside. It also includes new ways of funding and acquiring parkland, whether sharing maintenance costs with nearby property owners or tapping into private donations and sponsorships.”
Tobin Garrett says some municipalities have improved their processes for creating public space, for accommodating varying uses and for taking into account factors like weather. “We do have many months of the year where it’s cold and some of the newer parks and open spaces we’re seeing can be used all year round, and are have active programs in the winter as well as the summer months,” he says.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Jake Tobin Garrett

The 519 reaches out to community for Moss Park recreational redevelopment

Community consultations will start this month as the city and The 519 community centre move forward on the possible redevelopment of John Innes Community Centre, Moss Park Arena and the surrounding park space.
The idea was first floated a few years ago, in the midst of the excited lead-up to last summer’s Pan Am Games, as an LGBTQ-focused sports facility. But the initiative has been broadened in the feasibility stage, expected itself to cost as much as $1.6 million, to be a more inclusive community-based recreational facility, not focusing exclusively on LGBTQ users, but building on The 519’s success at creating a welcoming atmosphere for diverse communities at its base at Church and Wellesley.
At the very least, the plan would replace the existing recreational infrastructure and redeveloping the entire park space and sports field. But it could be more ambitious than that. “We imagine, given the evolution of the neighbourhood and the population changes projected over the next 20 or 30 years for downtown Toronto, that that will include a substantial increase in the overall envelope of the building, but we’ve also committed to maintaining as much parkland and sports field as possible,” says Maura Lawless, executive director of The 519. There’s been no financial commitment by the city yet and no talk at this point of bringing private developers on board.
Last month, local activists hosted a town hall meeting questioning whether the 519 plans would speed gentrification of Moss Park, driving out lower-income and other marginalized people like sex workers. Lawless says the public consultation process, which will hold its first public meeting on May 31 and a design-oriented public meeting on June 6, have been in the works for a while and is not a response to the criticism. Still, Lawless says there have been some misunderstandings.
“We understand those concerns and that’s why we think it’s incredibly important that the communities who live in those neighbourhoods now shape and inform the site design, the priorities that are relevant to the current community,” she says.
Three community organizers have been hired to reach out to social-service organizations and bring the voices of homeless people, people living Toronto Community Housing and other marginalized community members to the table. “These are folks who may not necessarily come out to the traditional community conversation,” says Lawless. “We as an organization have expertise in terms of the LGBT community, but this facility is intended to be open and accessible to everyone. At some level there’s been some misinformation that’s gotten out in terms of this being a gay gym or only accessible to some people. That’s fundamentally untrue.”
The consultation period will end September 30, with a report expected to go before council by the end of the year.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Maura Lawless

Downtown residents get early look-see at possibilities for new Wellesley Street park

A new downtown park is a rare thing, especially one of any size.
But this week, residents got a peek at what the 1.6-acre park slated for Wellesley Street between Bay and Yonge streets could look like. Landscape architects dtah presented concepts plans for the park based on what people have so far suggested for the space.
“People have talked a lot about wanting a green oasis, a respite from being in such a dense area. People talked about flexible spaces. For example, spaces that can be used as a market one day, for seating area another day or where kids can run around on another day,” says Corinne Fox, policy and standards development officer with Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
The unique opportunity came out of public demand for a park in the area, and the fact that Lanterra has two other adjacent properties on the block. “And so we were able to combine the parkland dedication of three developments to form a bigger park,” says Fox. Several years ago, Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam had lobbied the province, which had owned the land, to turn it into a park. Instead, it sold to Lanterra, leading Wong-Tam to lobby the developer to create a park next door to its 60-storey condo at 11 Wellesley. Council approved the development and park proposal in 2014. “If Lanterra had not worked with us, where a lot of the park is going to be would be mainly buildings,” says Fox.
Following this week’s consultation, an online consultation later this month and another meeting this summer, Fox says a final plan should be ready by the fourth quarter of 2016, with construction expected to be complete in 2018. The fact that the park will be built on top of a parking garage places some limitations on what form it can take. In 30 or 40 years, everything will have to be ripped up in order to place the parking garage’s water membrane. “That’s just the nature of a stratified park,” says Fox.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Corinne Fox

Plan for new bus terminal at Kipling Station moves ahead

Metrolinx is moving ahead with plans for a new 14-bay bus terminal for Kipling Station to improve the integration of GO Bus, GO Train, Mississauga Transit and TTC services at the hub.
The proposed GO and Mississauga MiWay terminal would be to the west of the site at Dundas Street West and Kipling, separate from the existing TTC bus terminal. The new parking and access arrangements would reconfigure the local road network, including a new intersection on Dundas. The plan also attempts to improve access to pedestrians and cyclists.
As a provincial agency, Metrolinx is not required to obtain site plan approval from the City of Toronto, but it filed one this month, agreeing “to work with the City and to take in City comments as input,” states a letter from Jill Hogan, manager of Community Planning in Etobicoke York District that was filed along with several reports on how the new terminal will affect the area.
With major MiWay connections moving to Kipling, the TTC would be able to rebuild the Islington bus terminal “to provide full accessibility and increased redevelopment potential at that station,” states an FAQ from Metrolinx.
An earlier design concept had the new bus terminal located under the transmission lines in the Hydro One corridor/easement, but because of “changes in Hydro One restrictions on development in their corridor, that concept no longer satisfies Hydro One requirements.”

March 30 Update: Kim Johnson, media relations and issues specialist for Metrolinx, says the agency is working on having a preliminary design for the hub ready by the end of 2016 for posting for tender bids.With a design-build contractor on board by mid-2017, the tentative completion of the facility would be the end of 2019.

“Public input is very important during the planning stages and we take all resident concerns in account as we continue on with the project. Extensive stakeholder collaboration is currently ongoing as further design development continues,” says Johnson. “The mobility hub concept is not just about the transit station—it includes the surrounding neighbourhood and is about creating an opportunity to live, work and play, while also being regionally connected.”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto, Metrolinx, Kim Johnson

Hamilton neighbourhood groups successfully fight off new hospital parking lot

A group of neighbourhood associations that joined the city to fight against a new parking lot in their midst celebrated a victory at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) this month.
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) wanted to expand its 640-spot lot near Hamilton General Hospital at Ferguson and Barton streets, creating 158 additional parking spots on an adjacent vacant lot abutting a residential neighbourhood. The City of Hamilton opposed the application, claiming that the plan for the area, already dominated by institutional buildings and asphalt parking lots, called for mixed-use development. Neighbours were concerned about safety, security and water runoff issues, as well as privacy. Because of the slope of the property, some neighbours worried headlights from the parking lot would be shining in their windows.
The case ended up at the OMB, where several neighbourhood groups banded together to support the city’s position against the new parking lot. They were granted participant status—able to make presentations but not using lawyers or having full “party” standing at the OMB. The provincially-funded Hamilton Health Sciences hospital network hired premier planning law firm Turkstra Mazza & Associates to represent them. But the OMB surprisingly ruled in favour of the city and residents.
“It was an interesting opportunity. We hadn’t had experience in that sort of situation,” says Allison Chewter, president of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association.
What advice would Chewter give to other neighbourhood groups waged in OMB battles?
“Be knowledgeable about how the OMB works. It’s very complicated. We’re fortunate we had another neighbourhood association where several of their members had extensive experience with the OMB and they were able to give us advice. Several other members have background in planning, so we had a good understanding of how it works and were able to not make the decision to spend money on lawyers and planners, and just represent ourselves,” says Chewter. “Be sure that you have a clear message and be to the point and to the facts. A lot of groups tend not to go to the planning argument, which is what the OMB wants to hear.”

HSS currently has an off-site parking lot with an employees shuttle to the hospital. Chewter says the hospital is on a major bus route. "It's not the most reliable bus. Transit could definitely be improved. We think that's something the hospital, which is such a large employer and really a driving force in the city, could have a hand in encouraging the city to expand transit options in that area."
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Allison Chewter

Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District approved

Council voted last week to designate the stretch of Yonge Street between Bloor and Carleton/College streets as a Historical Conservation District (HCD), providing increased protection for the area’s architecture and history.
While the plan, currently in draft form, will preserve the look and feel of the area and restrict what many property owners can change about their buildings, Mark Garner, executive director of the Downtown Yonge BIA, says he wish the city could go further to maintain the gritty, indie character of the “old bastion” of Yonge Street.

“This is one of the last remaining sections of downtown that really has those old iconic businesses, retailers that have been there since I was a kid. I think the HCD is a good thing to preserve the heritage component, but for me it may not have enough teeth around protecting the lived experience. What I’m always afraid of is the usual Toronto façade-ism,” he says. “We have to maintain the independent retail space. We’ve done studies that people want to have the small independent coffee shops, the chocolatiers, the butchers, the vegetable and fruit stands that provide a great retail experience.”
The city states the HCD is “not meant to prevent new development or prescribe the style of new development within the district. Rather an HCD Plan allows for the ongoing evolution of a district, while guiding new development to be sympathetic to its character.”
The Downtown Yonge BIA currently only extends to Carleton/College—just outside the new HCD. But the organization expects to absorb Yonge Street south of Bloor, which does not have a business improvement area, within the next year. The BIA would have to balance the more bombastic and chain-oriented Yonge and Dundas area with the quirkier and sometimes seedier stretch north of College. “I think our BIA respects what the neighbourhoods are about so we’re advocating for the right things,” says Garner.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Mark Garner

City hosts open house showcasing design options for Bloor bike lane pilot this summer

Almost 40 years after Bloor Street was first identified as an ideal candidate for bike lanes, the city is taking another small step toward making it a reality.
At an open house this week, the city will show off possible designs for a pilot project on Bloor Street West between Shaw Street and Avenue Road, opening up the possibility of “Bikes on Bloor” by late summer. After a survey, an earlier open house and many other stakeholder consultations, the city is presenting what it’s calling Option C: a curbside cycle track lane which features separation elements (parked cars or flexiposts) between the bike lane and the traffic lane, as well as between the bike lane and parked cars (the “door zone”). Options A, with no parking lanes at all, and B, with curbside parking have been set aside since the last open house.

 “Bloor and Danforth been sought-after by the cycling community for so long because, as streets in the city of Toronto go, they’re relatively rare: long east-west streets without streetcar tracks that connect a lot of places of origin with lots of destinations, with a vibrant shopping district,” says Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto. The advocacy group has been working on convincing business owners along Bloor and Danforth that bike lanes would be good for them and their customers. They’ve signed up more than 80 businesses who support the project and collected more than 8,000 signatures on its petition.
The city has seriously wrestled with the idea since it commissioned a study in 1992. An earlier environmental assessment of bike lanes on Bloor and Danforth, which was eventually waylaid by Mayor Rob Ford’s administration, was supposed to look at the possibility of bike lanes on more than 20 kilometres of road from Kipling to Victoria Park.
The current initiative is much more bite-sized and, as a pilot project, will be subject to monitoring and re-evaluation. City staff will be making the case that Option C, which will be the focus of Wednesday’s meeting, will provide a more comfortable experience for cyclists, discourage motorists from parking, standing or stopping illegally in the bike lane, provide opportunities to improve the pedestrian environment and streetscape, and eliminate the need for motorists to yield to cyclists to access parking. On-street parking will alternate between the north and south sides to provide “an equitable approach to businesses and residents, and provides drivers with potential parking in either direction.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Jared Kolb, City of Toronto

Gardiner would move north if city accepts "Hybrid 3" option

Last summer, City Council voted to keep the Gardiner Expressway as a continuous elevated freeway through downtown, with direct ramps to the Don Valley Parkway, eschewing proposals to tear down or bury Toronto’s favourite eyesore.

Now council is being asked to pick a particular variation of the Gardiner reconstruction known as Hybrid 3, so the Environmental Assessment can move ahead, since the Gardiner’s eastern surface deck, in its current state, is only expected to last until 2020.

The hybrid option championed by Mayor John Tory has been considered in more detail over the last few months, producing three possible variations. Hybrid 1 will provide tighter ramps in the Keating Channel Precinct but stick close to the Gardiner’s existing route. Hybrid 2 moves the expressway further north to create more space between Lake Ontario and the expressway. Hybrid 3, which also aligns the Gardiner further north, would also widen the rail bridge underpass. At a stakeholder advisory committee and a recent public open house, Hybrid 3 was the best received option.

“Hybrid 3 supports the city-building potential of the Keating Channel Precinct, a planned mixed-use waterfront community that will evolve as the gateway to a revitalized Port Lands and accessible Keating Channel. This would be accomplished by rebuilding the elevated portion of the Gardiner as far north from the Keating Channel as is feasible,” states the staff report. “Implementation of the design would provide unencumbered access to a planned waterfront promenade, better conditions for creating future high-quality park, open space and pedestrian-friendly environments and more valuable development blocks. By comparison, Hybrid 2 would achieve some but not all of the urban design benefits described above. Hybrid 1 would result in a neighbourhood flanked on both sides by rail and expressway infrastructure, bisected by Lake Shore Boulevard and separated from the water's edge by an elevated expressway with associated on/off ramps.”

The staff report, which will be considered by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on February 29, and by council on March 30, says Hybrid 3 would have “the least physical and visual impact on the planned revitalization of the Don River. Implementation of this design would have the least impact on future sediment management activities, as well as the least amount of physical infrastructure, including structural piers, to be located within the river itself (with details to be confirmed at the detailed design stage).”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

New citizenís panel brings fresh perspectives to the planning process

Reviewing the city’s Townhouse and Low-Rise Apartment Design Guidelines, Jason Wong offered some suggestions about locating gas and electricity meters where they could be readily inspected, but not so visible as to be eyesores. Though it remains to be seen if Wong’s ideas explicitly become part of the guidelines, the issues raised by the engineer from Scarborough will become part of the broader discussion about and evolution of the planning document.

“The writer of that guideline was sitting in the room with us, so there was active feedback,” says Wong, one of 28 members of the inaugural Toronto Planning Review Panel, a new body designed to bring a wide range of perspectives to the city’s planning process. Last year 12,000 households received an invitation to serve on the panel for a two-year term. The city chose members from more than 500 people who accepted the offer, using a civic lottery system that considered factors like age, geographic location, gender, household tenure (owner or not) and ethnicity to achieve diversity and bring in voices beyond the people who usually show up for planning meetings.

“We have a process that’s about improving our engagement process across our division and it has identified three population groups we’re not reaching as well as we could be, including youth, newcomers and renters,” says Daniel Fusca, chair of the Toronto Planning Review Panel and lead of stakeholder engagement in the Office of the City of Toronto’s Chief Planner.

Though other cities have various kinds of citizen-engagement planning processes, the panel is an especially made-in-Toronto solution meant to be cost-effective and relatively red-tape free. Members agree to attend six meetings a year and attend a series of orientation sessions to help them understand the broad strokes of the planning process. Fusca has been impressed so far. “They are eager, curious, progressive and sophisticated in their approach. They even insisted that meetings be longer than we had originally planned, so that they could have a greater opportunity to sink their teeth into the projects we brought to them. It is both inspiring and humbling to work with them.” Their feedback will be made available in a summary report so people can see how the feedback has been used.

Irv Raymon, an architect who lives in North York, is something of an insider on the panel, but sees the process as very worthwhile. “It’s an amazing effort on the part of the city to educate a group of randomly chosen people and then to get knowledge back from them on how things might be done in a better way for the city,” says Raymon.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Daniel Fusca, Jason Wong & Irv Raymon

Harbord Village Green Plan paves way for un-paving

A new plan to green up Harbord Village could become a template for other Toronto neighbourhoods to replace asphalt and concrete with trees, plants and grass.

“It’s a real breakthrough for us because this will be the first time the city will have rules of engagement over all the paved spaces that have been identified as possible green spaces,” says Sue Dexter, a member of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association and co-author of 2015 Harbord Village Green Plan. “It’s the beginning of a roll-out of a change in the landscape in a significant part of town, which could be replicated wherever there are lanes or flanking spaces.”

Though the area, bounded by Bloor, College and Bathurst streets and Spadina Avenue, has a lot of greenery, it has very little designated park land. The area’s 16 “pinchpoint planters”—concrete structures which narrow streets, signal one-ways and calm traffic—require regular care by residents and are frequently the target of graffiti artists.

The study proposes using “flanking spaces”—the often unoccupied city-owned paved spaces separating commercial and residential zones—for tree plantings, bike parking and seating. “Such spaces are contingent on sight-line priorities for safe routing of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians,” states the report. “In many places however, especially on corners along Harbord and flanking businesses on Bloor, there are lost opportunities to establish in-ground planting or raised container beds.” The plan also proposes greening some of the neighbourhood’s 25 laneways, starting with Croft Laneway and Sussex Mews.

“I think there will be an increased sense of stewardship and pride in our back spaces,” says Dexter. “People see the front of their house as the public space, so they put in gardens, doll it up. I think that if people realize they’ve also got a rear address to the world, then they’ll see they don’t need to give their rear address over to their automobiles.”

Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina) Councillor Joe Cressy has championed the plan. Dexter says the association is working with him to bring a motion to council that would better coordinate the street paving cycle and ad hoc utility digging to create opportunities to increase green space. Though the initiative may first apply only to Harbord Village, Dexter expects other Toronto residents would want to have access to the same process.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sue Dexter

Environmental assessment clears way for phase two of West Toronto Railpath

When the West Toronto Railpath was first talked about back in 2002, it was possible to imagine a multi-use trail system running from the Junction right downtown right along the railway tracks to Union Station.

Though Metrolinx’s transit ambitions and condo development have over time limited the scope of where such a path can go, a long-awaited environmental assessment (EA) now points the way forward on how the path can be extended further toward the city centre. Phase one, which opened in 2009, provided a path from Cariboo Avenue to Dundas Street West. Phase two could extend the path to Abell and Sudbury streets relatively quickly.

“It is very exciting to have the EA closed so that Railpath 2 can finally move into the design stage,” says Scott Dobson, a member of Friends of West Toronto Railpath. “The great thing about the EA process is that frankly everybody loves Railpath. Everybody [who has seen it] gets it and wants to see it expand.”

For all extension possibilities beyond Abell, the EA calls for further study, leaving out Liberty Village. But Dobson says he’s pleased the EA cleared the way to get the path south of Queen, though between Dufferin and Abell the path will have to run adjacent to, not in, the rail corridor.

“There was no point in doing something that made nobody happy and strayed from the spirit of Railpath, but at the same time nobody wanted to stall the rest of the route up to Dundas where Railpath currently ends. So all stakeholders felt that getting it built to Abell, while continuing to explore southerly options, was the best option,” says Dobson. “A few years ago, nobody wanted land near or in the rail corridor but now that land is scarce and valuable. At the end of the day, it is because of increased density and new transit projects, which is a good thing. But figuring out the exact route has been time consuming.”

The next step is for an RFP to be tendered for detailed design of the extention. Beyond expansion south, Dobson says advocates are also in the early stages of looking north to go from the north tip of Railpath at Cariboo up to St. Clair Avenue.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Scott Dobson

Almost 2,000 homes built on waterfront since 2001

Waterfront Toronto has unveiled its first Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report since 2010, outlining how its redevelopment and reimaging efforts have extended beyond the basics of creating new communities on waterfront brownfields.

So far, the arms-length agency responsible for developing Toronto’s waterfront and portlands has overseen the creation of 496 affordable housing units with another 80 units under construction, with the private sector building 1,405 residential market units so far, with another 1,500 under construction. “The project will ultimately deliver 40,000 new residences, 40,000 new jobs and 300 hectares of public parks, making it one of the largest waterfront brownfield revitalization projects in the world,” states the report.

Four of the new buildings in the 2,000-acre area are certified LEED Gold for energy efficiency and sustainability, with 13 more in various stages of targeting LEED certification. Twenty-five parks and public spaces have been created or improved, and more than 28 kilometres of infrastructure constructed, including new watermains, sanitary and stormwater sewers. There’s been more than 3,600 trees planted and 108,920 square metres of aquatic habitat created.

“Construction projects on the waterfront are faced with complex urban conditions such as contaminated and geotechnically unstable soils, the result of many decades of infilling and high water tables,” stated John Campbell in his last letter as president and CEO. He’s stepping down this fall after 12 years on the job. “Often, outdated and unreliable drawings do not always accurately reflect underground infrastructure during planning and design. In the case of Queens Quay these challenges led to higher than anticipated costs. Lessons learned from past projects are used to inform our approach as we carry forward with waterfront revitalization.”

Waterfront Toronto was launched in 2001 with a 20-year mandate to redevelop the waterfront.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Waterfront Toronto

Province picks AECOM to oversee construction of new downtown courthouse

The province has chosen the Canadian arm of the international architectural firm AECOM to manage the planning, design and compliance of the construction of the new courthouse for downtown Toronto.

Years in the making, the proposed high-rise will bring eight facilities together under one roof on the site of what is currently a parking lot on Centre Avenue, just off University Avenue, saving money and increasing efficiency if all goes according to plan.

“Once completed, the new Toronto courthouse will be a state-of-the-art facility that will enable the province to continue delivering high-quality justice services for generations to come, while creating hundreds of jobs and stimulating our economy during the construction process,” said Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure during the announcement. “We are one step closer to turning this vision into reality.”

The new courthouse's design will feature “video conferencing to allow witnesses to appear from remote locations and in-custody individuals to appear from jail; closed-circuit television to enable children and other vulnerable individuals to appear before the court from a private room; courtroom video/audio systems to allow counsel to display video evidence recorded in various formats and for the simultaneous viewing of evidence; a single point of entry with magnetometers, baggage scanners, continuous video surveillance, and separate corridors for judiciary, members of the public and the accused for security reasons; barrier-free access to all courtroom,” states the news release.

AECOM will be expected to produce a building design that meets LEED Silver standards, with a focus on energy efficiency, healthy indoor environments and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Once the planning, design and compliance aspects are completed, the Ministry of the Attorney General and Infrastructure Ontario will issue a request for qualifications, probably in the spring of 2016, for a team to design, build, finance and maintain the project using provincial alternative financing and procurement methods.

Based in Los Angeles, AECOM has designed, built, financed and operated infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. Its companies had revenue of $18 billion in the last fiscal year.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Infrastructure Ontario
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