June 25, 2021, Toronto, Ontario—Today the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities visited Canada’s Sugar Beach – the transformed Waterfront Toronto park that was once a surface parking lot in a former industrial area. Featuring a plaza, a tree-lined promenade and views of large freighters docking in the slip to deliver sugar to the neighbouring Redpath factory, the accessible urban beach is but one of the many Waterfront Toronto revitalization projects to embody Canada’s infrastructure ambitions: to build public infrastructure that provides economic, social and environmental benefits for people across the country.
During the visit, Minister McKenna also toured a waterfront revitalization project currently underway: the Waterfront Innovation Centre. The Centre will support the creation of a commercial district in East Bayfront and respond to the need of knowledge-based companies and workers. Central to the project is the waterfront-wide ultra-high-speed broadband fibre-optic network that is delivering one of Toronto’s fastest and most economical high-speed Internet service.
Minister McKenna also checked in on progress of the Port Lands Flood Protection Project which, once complete, will offer flood protection to Toronto’s southeastern downtown area as well as become home to new parks, bridges, roads and the new residential community of Villiers Island.
The revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront is the largest urban redevelopment project currently underway in North America, and it is one of the largest waterfront revitalization efforts ever undertaken in the world. It includes federal, provincial and municipal investments in both traditional city-building infrastructure, such as local transportation and sewers, and more contemporary urban development, including parks, green spaces, recreation facilities and the redevelopment of underutilized post-industrial areas. These investments are expected to result in social and economic benefits for the Toronto region as well as contribute to Canada’s continued success in the global economy.
Minister McKenna’s visit follows a Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors meeting, the first such meeting for newly appointed federal members Leslie Woo, Drew Fagan and Rahul Bhardwaj. CEO of CivicAction, Leslie Woo is a respected leader with more than 25 years of experience building sustainable communities and shaping urban development in the Greater Toronto Area. Drew Fagan has spent more than 12 years in leadership positions with the governments of Ontario and Canada and is now a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto as well as senior advisor at McMillan Vantage Policy Group. Rahul Bhardwaj is President and CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors and is a champion for city building who served as Vice-President of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid. Their appointments follow a selection process launched in Fall 2020 to find experienced, engaged and enthusiastic members of the public to serve on the Waterfront Toronto Board. The selection process was open, transparent, merit-based, and reflected the diversity of Canada’s population. The new federal Board members join Jeanhy Shim who was reappointed last year.
Minister McKenna extends her gratitude to Mazyar Mortazavi, Sevaun Palvetzian and Janet Rieksts-Alderman for their contributions to Waterfront Toronto as members of the Board of Directors. Throughout their terms, they each provided dedicated leadership to support the transformation of Toronto’s waterfront area into beautiful, dynamic and sustainable public spaces.