Toronto’s Port Lands is an area of about 356 hectares (880 acres) that stretches from the Inner Harbour on the west to Leslie Street in the east, and from Lake Shore Boulevard in the north to the to the Outer Harbour in the south.
The Port Lands were created in the early 20th Century by filling in Ashbridges Bay to create additional industrial areas for the growing city. The Port Lands have been used for a variety of industrial activities over the years, including providing the city’s only industrial port, manufacturing functions and energy generation. Today, the lands continue to be used for industrial and port functions, but there are large amounts of vacant and underutilized land. The Port Lands are an unparalleled revitalization opportunity for Toronto.
Not only is the Port Lands one of the most significant urban renewal opportunities in Toronto, it is also a remarkable place today. Its concentration of heritage resources, natural areas, active port and industrial uses assist in building and maintaining the broader city. It also has numerous film studios and related uses that support Toronto’s film sector. Several planning initiatives are underway setting the stage for urban renewal of the Port Lands.
The completion of the Port Lands Planning Framework and Villiers Island Precinct Plan represents the culmination of over four years of collaborative work by the City and Waterfront Toronto, with support from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and numerous City divisions and agencies, all shaped by a robust consultation program. This updated framework guides and shapes urban renewal and is vital to ensuring all development advanced in the near, medium and longer-terms will have lasting value and support long-term city building objectives.
The Port Lands Planning Framework, approved by City Council in December 2017, provides:
While the Port Lands Planning Framework is a major accomplishment for advancing more detailed planning in the area, additional studies and work continues to be required in key areas.
One of the key areas of work is updating the zoning for employment lands, and developing urban design guidelines for the Production, Creative and Interactive Core Districts.
The Port Lands Planning Framework provides direction with respect to commercial, industrial and park land uses that will be encouraged within the Port Lands. The current zoning does not permit many of these uses within the Port Lands. New zoning regulations for employment-focused districts better align with the Council-adopted Port Lands Planning Framework direction, and are more reflective of land uses that the City is encouraging in the Warehouse District, East Port, South Port and Maritime Hub.
In particular, the zoning review will update the zoning for Port Lands employment- focused lands, and increase as-of-right zoning permissions for port, industrial, and production, interactive and creative uses.
In addition, the zoning review will look at the parks and open system to ensure it aligns with the Port Land Planning Framework’s land use direction.
The Port Lands Zoning Review Study of three phases, which concluded with the adoption of the four zoning by-law amendments on October 2, 2019. An overview of the Zoning Review process is below.
City staff were directed by City Council to update the zoning for approximately 200 hectares of employment lands to facilitate the transformation of the Port Lands into a number of new urban employment districts amid activities of a working port that include Media City, Turn Basin, Warehouse, East Port and South Ship Channel Districts.
The four adopted zoning by-law amendments to Zoning By-law 569-2013 can be found at:
The purpose of the PIC Core Urban Design Guidelines will further expand on the urban design and built form direction reflected in the Council-adopted vision for the Port Lands for approximately 33 hectares of industrial land to:
Media City and the Turning Basin are Production, Interactive and Creative (PIC) Core Districts in the Port Lands that employment-focused with vibrant pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and water’s edge promenade.
Media City is envisioned as a district for film, television and digital media production alongside other creative and supportive uses. Turning Basin will transition from light manufacturing and warehousing into creative uses.
The production, interactive and creative uses core urban design guidelines study consists of three phases and the study is currently at the end of Phase 2a.
Stakeholder involvement and public consultation are critical components of the urban design guidelines study. The City is holding a Community Consultation meeting to present an update on the direction of the PIC Core Urban Design Guidelines Study, and provide an opportunity for your questions and to share your comments.
Date: March 26, 2020
Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Place: Ralph Thornton Community Centre (765 Queen Street East, Toronto, Ontario M4M 1H3)
The Port Lands Planning Framework and the Port Lands Official Plan Modification, adopted by City Council on December 5, 2017, provides detailed land use directions for the Regeneration Areas in the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan and endorsement of a work program to initiative more detailed planning in key areas of the Port Lands.
City staff were directed by City Council to develop production, interactive and creative core urban design guidelines for the Media City and Turning Basin Districts to provide guidance on performance standards and inform the Port Lands Zoning Review Study.
Recent Council Reports:
February 3, 2020 Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board:
In 2011, the City, Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority initiated the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative to refine the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project Environmental Assessment and develop a business and implementation plan with the objective of accelerating development opportunities in the Port Lands. City Council adopted the direction developed during the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative in October 2012 and directed City and Waterfront Toronto staff to develop additional plans for the area.
For more information on these studies and other work done as part of the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative, please visit the project website at portlandsconsultation.ca