The City is improving access to Toronto Island Park by beginning to replace its ferry fleet with electric vessels, building supporting electrical infrastructure at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, and reviewing all existing operational practices to improve efficiency and visitor experience for years to come.

Funding for the preliminary estimates has been secured for two of the four electric ferries. Funding for the other two ferries is subject to approval in future Capital Budgets.

  • July 2023: Negotiated request for proposal (nRFP) issued to shipyards for construction of two electric ferries
  • Late 2023: Construction contract awarded to a shipyard
  • Early 2024: Final design confirmed and construction of two electric ferries
  • Early to late 2024: Planning exercise for decommissioning of current fleet and naming exercise for fleet replacement
  • Late 2024 to 2025: Supporting electric infrastructure work at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal
  • Late 2025: Two electric ferries arrive in Toronto
  • Early 2026: Commissioning* process starts for two electric ferries at Toronto Harbour
  • Early to mid-2026: Two electric ferries are phased into operation and start taking passengers

The timeline is subject to change. *Ferry commissioning is a mandatory full testing and regulation process that can take up to four months.


In 2015, Concept Naval Architects was hired to design the electric ferries. From 2019 to 2021, the ferry designs were developed through stakeholder and community engagement. In 2022, City Council approved the budget to advance the construction of two electric ferry vessels and the supporting shore-side electrical infrastructure.

The City’s ferry fleet carries more than 1.4 million passengers annually on its four primary ferry vessels. These vessels have a combined capacity of about 2,400 passengers and provide an essential service to Toronto Island residents and visitors. Although well-maintained, the current ferries are between 50 to 100 years old and beyond the average industry lifespan.

The initial strategy proposed replacing the current ferry fleet of four primary vessels operating on diesel with hybrid diesel-electric technology. However, the City’s adoption of TransformTO’s Net Zero Strategy, information about the cost comparisons for both vessel types, evolving industry trends and technologies, and long-term operational savings, like fuel costs, resulted in a shift to the transition to fully electric ferries.

Guiding Principles

The ferry fleet replacement aligns with TransformTO’s Net Zero Strategy and the City’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan 2020-2024. This initiative aligns with the target of transitioning 20 per cent of the City’s ferry fleet to zero emissions by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030. Replacing the current ferries with a fully electric ferry fleet is estimated to reduce 2,800 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to removing 600 cars from the road) and save over $1 million in fuel costs annually once all four ferries are replaced.

The Marine Use Strategy, which was developed by Waterfront Toronto in partnership with the City of Toronto, Ports of Toronto, and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), has informed opportunities to improve Toronto’s harbour, including the gradual replacement of the City’s ferry fleet with electric vessels and electrical infrastructure improvements at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to support the electrification of the new fleet. The City is moving forward with these initiatives in 2023.

The design of the electric ferries will pay homage to the historical character of Toronto’s ferry fleet and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the ridership experience for Toronto Island residents and visitors. Preliminary costing estimates for the fully electric ferry designs are upwards of $30 million per vessel. Changes to the design will be considered until early 2024.

The electric ferries will improve passenger experience with:

  • More efficient passenger flow while boarding and upgraded accessibility with slightly wider ramps
  • Improved travel comfort with enclosed areas for shelter and onboard temperature control
  • Greater start/stop speeds, which will improve efficiency getting in and out of loading areas
  • Increased passenger capacity and reliability
  • Accessible washrooms

Passenger and Vehicle Ferry Design (ROPAX)

A rendering of the passenger/vehicle ferry design (called ROPAX) while on the water with the Toronto city skyline in the background. The ferry is white with two mostly enclosed levels with eight windows on the top level.
Artist rendering of the year-round passenger/vehicle ferry (ROPAX).

The City will procure one ROPAX electric ferry which is designed for winter use and has ice-crushing capabilities. This ferry is designed to carry up to 1,300 passengers and an additional 14 cars or two large trucks.

Passenger Ferry Design (PAX)

A rendering of the passenger only ferry design (called PAX) while on the water with the Toronto city skyline in the background. The ferry is long, white, with two levels with windows on both. A black ledge along the side of the ferry shows the vessels passenger side loading feature.
Artist rendering of the passenger ferry (PAX).

The City will procure three PAX electric ferries. These ferries are designed to carry up to 1,300 passengers each and will not accept vehicles.

The City operates year-round ferry service to Toronto Island Park out of Jack Layton Ferry Terminal carrying passengers to and from Wards Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. The current fleet includes four diesel-fueled vessels and one heritage vessel:

  • The Sam McBride was acquired in 1939 and has capacity for 915 passengers
  • The Thomas Rennie was acquired in 1951 and has capacity for 915 passengers
  • The William Inglis was acquired in 1935 and has capacity for 389 passengers
  • The Ongiara was acquired in 1963, has capacity for 220 passengers and vehicles and operates year-round
  • The Trillium was acquired in 1910 and has capacity for 815 passengers

Naming a Vessel

Before a new vessel goes into operation, the Canadian government requires that each registered vessel be given a unique name for identification and communication purposes. There is a long-standing belief that goes back thousands of years that the name given to the vessel may help bring good fortune and safety to the vessel, its crew and passengers.

In 2024, the City will introduce a community engagement exercise that follows the Guiding Principles for Commemoration, to help name the four new electric ferries. More information will be provided as it is available.


All ferries operated by the City are inspected annually by Transport Canada or Lloyd’s Register through the Delegated Statutory Inspection Program under the authority of Transport Canada. They are also dry-docked on a five-year schedule for more detailed inspection and maintenance.

Vessels must be inspected prior to entering service and have a valid inspection certificate. Transport Canada inspections are required on an annual basis to maintain the validity of the vessel’s certificate. In addition to inspection certificates, each vessel has approved and inspected Safe Manning Certificates and Record of Safety Equipment Certificates in place for operations.