In November 2015, staff reported that there was a clear need for a “reset” as waterfront transit planning had been ad hoc and incremental. A comprehensive review of waterfront transit projects was also needed to articulate the opportunities and options that exist and to propose an approach to advance waterfront transit. This work was anticipated to lead to a plan for a continuous waterfront transit network with east/west connectivity, as well as strong integrated north/south connections that would link the city to the waterfront.

At that time, a phased program for waterfront transit improvements was proposed. Council approved funding for Phase 1 of the Waterfront Transit “Reset” for the following work program items:

  • Review all relevant background material;
  • Create an overall study vision with related objectives;
  • Develop a preliminary list of improvement concepts;
  • Consult with the public and stakeholders;
  • Identify preferred concepts for further study, and;
  • Develop a scope of work for Phase 2.

City Council also directed staff to work with the TTC and Waterfront Toronto on a comprehensive review of waterfront transit options and report back to Council in 2016.

In July 2016, City staff reported on Phase 1 work, explaining that the importance of a comprehensive waterfront transit solution, which had not been realized to date, was reinforced. Phase 1 of the Waterfront Transit “Reset” also identified three main findings/directions, further explained in staff report 2016.EX16.7: Waterfront Transit Network Vision – Phase 1. City Council subsequently directed City staff, TTC and Waterfront Toronto to initiate Phase 2 of the Waterfront Transit “Reset” to further develop the cost of alignment concepts; provide a detailed analysis of transit operations and ridership; identify priority segments; and, create a Business Case and implementation strategy for delivering a coordinated waterfront transit solution. For Phase 2, the primary study area included between Long Branch in the west and Woodbine Avenue in the east, including Lake Shore Boulevard to the west of the Humber River, and the area south of the Queensway/Queen Street corridor to the east of the Humber River.

In January 2018, staff provided an update on Phase 2 work and recommended that City Council endorse that upcoming Official Plan updates be made in accordance with the Waterfront Transit Network recommendations. In addition, staff recommended that City Council authorize funding requests and the further study and design of areas of the network. City Council endorsed the overall Waterfront Transit Network Plan, and directed staff to proceed with more detailed follow-up planning and design studies.

Although a solution for the underground link to Union Station was not reached during Phase 2, there was a general understanding and agreement that further work was required to arrive at a complete sustainable mobility solution for the section between Union Station and Queens Quay before moving to implement the solution.

In April 2019, City staff provided an update on the Union Station to Queens Quay Link and the East Bayfront Light Rail Transit (LRT). City Council approved the streetcar option as the preferred technology for the Union Station to Queens Quay Link and directed staff to undertake the preliminary design and engineering phase of the extension of streetcar service to the East Bayfront.

In December 2020, City staff provided an update to City Council on the Waterfront Transit Network priority projects, specifically the Union Station to Queens Quay Link and the East Bayfront LRT. Staff reported that preliminary design and engineering work is underway with 30 per cent design and a Class 3 cost estimate being developed.

In June 2022, City staff provided an update that the City, TTC and Waterfront Toronto have advanced the design for the Waterfront East LRT (WELRT) generally to 30 per cent completion and continue to undertake due diligence to refine the design and update the cost estimate. Additional work is required to identify and design a loop and terminus for this stage of the eastern extension to the Port Lands, and undertake a constructability assessment in relation to other planned and in-progress major infrastructure projects in the vicinity of the WELRT.

In November 2023, City staff reported to City Council on the completed 30% design and business case for the Waterfront East LRT. The report recommended approval of the alignment, funding to undertake 60% design of Segments 2 and 3 of the project (Queens Quay to Villiers Loop), and direction to secure environmental approvals for all Segments of the project, among other recommendations – these recommendations were subsequently adopted without amendment.

Further details about the project will be included in future reports to City Council.