The plan for Sidewalk Toronto begins in Quayside, which provides a gateway into the eastern waterfront. Located just southeast of downtown at the nexus of many key corridors — Queens Quay, Parliament Street, Lake Shore Boulevard East, and the Inner Harbour — Quayside can become a new connection point that draws on the energy of surrounding neighbourhoods and makes the eastern waterfront more accessible to Torontonians and better connected to the city fabric.
Quayside: A Complete Community and a Proving Ground for Innovation
Responding to the feedback from 18 months of public engagement, Sidewalk Labs proposes a plan for Quayside that would create a diverse live-work neighbourhood, connect to the GTA, generate new economic opportunity for more people, and explore new innovations to dramatically improve quality of life.
The Quayside neighbourhood
Quayside as a proving ground for urban innovations
Quayside would be a complete community and a great neighbourhood in its own right. It would also serve as a proving ground for what is possible with a new approach to development that integrates new innovations into the physical environment, with the ultimate goal of improving people’s lives.
The Quayside plan is built around connecting to surrounding neighbourhoods and the rest of the city through a network of people-first streets, walkable street designs, enhanced cycling options, accessibility initiatives, and new mobility services that encourage shared trips. Light rail transit would be extended through the neighbourhood to improve connections with other parts of the city.
Quayside's public realm consists of an integrated set of parks, plazas, and open spaces designed to draw people of all ages and abilities outdoors year-round, as well as to bring people down to the water. This approach includes flexible lower-floor stoa spaces featuring a lively mix of traditional retailers, pop-ups, production or maker spaces, and community uses — all seamlessly integrated with the sidewalks and plazas to create a vibrant streetscape.
Quayside’s residential program strives towards an unprecedented range of housing options for people of all incomes, blending market- and below-market units throughout buildings and across the neighbourhood. Additionally, a shared equity program aims to expand home-ownership opportunities for middle-income households that might otherwise not be able to afford a large down payment.
All of the buildings in Quayside are planned to be built with sustainable mass timber through a modular, factory-based construction process. This approach would help catalyze an Ontario-based industry focused on sustainable construction and building technologies. Flexible loft spaces are designed to accommodate a mix of residential and non-residential uses that can evolve to meet the neighbourhood’s changing needs.
The Quayside plan would result in a low-carbon, resilient neighbourhood with a significant number of environmental innovations, including sustainable building materials and designs, an advanced power grid for electricity, a clean thermal grid for heating and cooling, a smart disposal chain designed to increase recycling, and active stormwater management.
Widespread digital infrastructure and ubiquitous connectivity would be incorporated in the plan through a fast and secure fibre optic network and through standardized mounts designed to enable digital innovation by a range of community and entrepreneurs. These tools are designed to support innovation while also adhering to the appropriate guidelines, policies, and protocols to ensure privacy protection and responsible data use.
In Quayside, the proposed development program would include building space for an elementary school co-located with a daycare facility, as well as ground-floor space for evolving community uses, including a centre for health and other care services, a centre designed to inspire civic engagement, and ongoing educational programs.
Quayside as a live-work community
Left to the market, Quayside would likely align with current zoning for the site, which calls for primarily residential uses and 20 percent affordable housing. In contrast, Sidewalk Labs proposes a more diverse live-work community in Quayside, that can sooner and more dramatically realize the objectives of existing precinct plans designed for the area.
Sidewalk Labs’ proposed development program for Quayside calls for roughly 33 percent of the site’s allowable floor area to be devoted to non-residential uses, encouraging a mix of office space for companies and startups, ground-floor commercial space for retailers and makers, and social space for schools and community groups, in addition to homes.
For Quayside’s residential spaces, Sidewalk Labs proposes an unprecedented commitment to mixed-income housing, with 40 percent of housing units at below-market rates. This housing vision includes 20 percent of units for traditional affordable housing (a quarter of which Sidewalk Labs would dedicate to “deep” affordability needs, defined by the city as being at or below 60 percent Average Market Rent). The vision further expands affordability to put 20 percent of units towards below-market housing for middle-income households. In total, the Quayside plan calls for roughly 2,600 residential units, including roughly 1,000 below-market units.
Sidewalk Labs estimates that this live-work approach would also result in major economic development, with more than 3,900 jobs eventually located in Quayside and more than 9,000 new jobs in Ontario overall.
Exploring larger scales to realize and maximize the impact achieved in Quayside
Quayside can achieve meaningful steps towards Waterfront Toronto’s quality-of-life objectives and a new model for urban development. But some of the elements of the Quayside plan cannot reach their full impact at the size of a five-hectare neighbourhood, while others cannot be financed or successfully operated without a certain amount of density to support them.
Consistent with the RFP’s recognition of the potential need to explore scale, Sidewalk Labs has proposed a concept plan for a wider River District geography that would make it possible to meet or exceed the ambitious priority outcomes in a way that is both financially achievable and replicable in Canada and around the world.
How the River District Could Build on Quayside’s Impact
Update: Sidewalk Labs will no longer pursue the Quayside project. Learn more.