The City is developing a new program called the Transportation Innovation Zones (TIZ). A TIZ is a geographic area within the City that hosts testing of new transportation and public realm approaches and technologies. By establishing a controlled public testing site with transparent monitoring and evaluation, we can learn about emerging technologies while supporting local innovation initiatives.

City staff are currently in the process of designing the program, and stakeholder engagement is underway.

The City of Toronto is developing the Transportation Innovation Zones (TIZ) program to learn about emerging transportation technologies and approaches and how they could solve some of Toronto’s transportation challenges. The program will facilitate trials by industry and academic actors in the real-world environment of Toronto’s streets. With careful design, this program can support research and development, grow local economic activity and talent, and advance the City’s mobility-related goals such as Vision Zero, accessibility, and TransformTO.

Also referred to as “testbeds” and “living labs,” the concept of providing space in a city to trial new innovations is being explored in many places around the world. Models range from purpose-built test tracks (Singapore), city-wide test zones (Torino, Italy), challenge-based partnerships with participation funding (TransLink in Vancouver), and testing on City-owned assets (Calgary).

Technologies and approaches that could be tested include those that use streets and sidewalks for the movement of people and goods, improve transportation operations, or improve the streets and sidewalks themselves. They will be demonstrated, monitored and evaluated in a controlled, real-world environment to understand potential benefits and impacts to key variables like safety, accessibility and privacy.

City Council asked staff to develop the TIZ program in October 2019 as part of the Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan. In July 2020, City Council asked staff to work with Exhibition Place to establish a flagship TIZ on the Exhibition Place grounds. City staff will be reporting back to council on the design of the program by the end of 2020.

The City of Toronto and Exhibition Place (an agency of the City) are working together to establish the first, flagship Transportation Innovation Zone on the Exhibition Place grounds.

Exhibition Place is Canada’s largest entertainment and business events venue, attracting over 5.5 million visitors a year. The 192-acre urban waterfront site is an integral component of Toronto and Ontario’s economy.  This landmark destination combines urban parkland with business events, sports and entertainment in Toronto’s western downtown has been a hallmark of innovation for over a century.

As a testing site, the Exhibition Place grounds, buildings and infrastructure offer a dynamic urban environment with a range of infrastructure including roads, local and regional transit, sidewalks, cycling lanes, intersections, parking areas, indoor facilities, electric vehicle chargers and more.

Exhibition Place’s new Master Plan outlines a vision for Exhibition Place as a place of innovation, inspiration and economic development, alongside other pillars in the plan.

Collaborating and co-producing knowledge with stakeholders and the public will be at the core of the Transportation Innovation Zones program.

Stakeholder workshops are being hosted this September.

For questions or comments at any time, email Jason.diceman@toronto.ca.

Prior Consultation & Engagement

The TIZ program concept was first developed in 2018-2019 as part of the Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan, which included consultation with academic institutions, community stakeholders and non-profits, automotive and technology industry members and associations, international experts, and the public.

The specific proposal for a TIZ in Exhibition Place has been supported as part of Phase 1 of the Exhibition Place Master Plan (Next Place), which included public and stakeholder consultation.

The City has also received public input about the use of digital technology through the City’s Digital Infrastructure Plan.

In total, these consultation processes recorded the opinions of thousands of residents and hundreds of organizations, contributing to the core values, principles and general concept for the TIZ program.

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