It’s no exaggeration to say the world is watching as Waterfront Toronto comes closer to receiving a full draft of the Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) from Sidewalk Labs for its Quayside project. There are many questions about the project, including what the next steps are after the MIDP is made available.
First, we have committed to releasing the MIDP within one week of receiving it from Sidewalk Labs. A critical element of our evaluation process will be seeking feedback from the public, which will help guide our assessment of the proposal. Ensuring that the public has a say in what is proposed for the neighbourhoods—and the city—in which they live, work and play has always been foundational to our work. Following a series of public consultations, a team of Waterfront Toronto staff and Canadian and international third-party subject matter experts from the fields of sustainability, urban planning and engineering, housing, data ownership and data privacy, finance, mobility and others will come together to evaluate the MIDP.
Together, our job will be to determine if the MIDP can be successful in meeting the priorities set out in Waterfront Toronto’s 2017 Request for Proposals as well as the goals and objectives we established for the MIDP: creating jobs, building climate positive communities, providing affordable housing and delivering new innovations to the water’s edge, to name but a few.
Research to inform the MIDP encompassed a number of subject areas, or Pillars: Sustainability, Buildings, Public Realm, Mobility, Economic Development, Housing Affordability, Social Infrastructure, and Digital and Data Governance. Waterfront Toronto and third-party subject matter experts (SMEs) across each of these Pillars comprise the Pillar Evaluation Teams and will evaluate the MIDP. In addition, there will be two other teams scrutinizing the MIDP: one focused on the physical development plan (the public realm and buildings on Quayside) and the other looking at the commercial evaluation, or feasibility, of the business plan being proposed and if it delivers good value to the public.
The Development Plan Evaluation Team will perform a detailed assessment of the Sidewalk Labs proposals to see if they work with Toronto’s planning policies, such as the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan, the East Bayfront Precinct Plan and the Keating Channel Precinct Plan. The team will also test how any proposals would impact planning in other areas of the waterfront.
The Commercial Plan Evaluation Team, supported by KPMG and N. Barry Lyon Consultants (a Toronto-based firm that specializes in development feasibility reviews and real estate strategy) will assess any financial feasibility, alternative financing proposals, and project risks. It will also examine the roles of other parties that could be involved in the project should it move forward.
Finally, an Executive Committee, comprising senior leadership from Waterfront Toronto as well as KPMG and N. Barry Lyon Consultants, will review the MIDP and the input from the evaluation teams, and will issue a recommendation to Waterfront Toronto’s Investment, Real Estate and Quayside (IREQ) Committee (a sub committee of the Board of Directors). The IREQ Committee will consider the recommendation before advancing it to the Board of Directors for a final decision.
What happens next?
Once the public has provided input and the evaluation process has concluded, Waterfront Toronto’s’ Board of Directors will decide whether to pursue all, some or none of the elements of the proposed MIDP. Should a decision be made to proceed, a series of implementation agreements, detailing who is responsible for each aspect of the project, will need to be negotiated between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs. And the project—like all developments—will require various approvals through the City of Toronto and will be required to meet all federal and provincial policies and regulations. Public consultation will also continue. You can read more about the City’s role here.
Waterfront Toronto is ready to meet the challenge of working with the public and experts to determine if the MIDP holds the promise of improving quality of life, including making the city more livable, affordable, and providing economic opportunity.