Pursuing design excellence: Urban design governance on Toronto's waterfront

White, J. T. (2016) Pursuing design excellence: Urban design governance on Toronto's waterfront. Progress in Planning, 110, pp. 1-41. (doi:10.1016/j.progress.2015.06.001)

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Abstract

This paper explores the governance of urban design on Toronto's waterfront. It examines the formation, mandate and powers of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation (TWRC) – now branded Waterfront Toronto – and critically evaluates the urban design policies, tools and mechanisms that have been put in place to support waterfront redevelopment and pursue a goal of ‘design excellence’ since 1999. The paper traces the key decisions that led to the creation of the TWRC by the federal, provincial and municipal governments and details the ambitious planning and design vision that emerged for the waterfront, but also argues that the TWRC was awarded a limited institutional mandate to fulfil its aims and objectives. The latter sections of the paper describe how a series of design-sensitive tools and mechanisms were introduced alongside the statutory planning framework for the waterfront to counter the governance and financial challenges faced by the Corporation. The paper contends that the Corporation is currently overseeing a broadly positive redevelopment programme that has been able to deliver a high quality public realm on the waterfront and facilitate design-led real estate development. An innovative public engagement strategy has been coupled with neighbourhood ‘precinct’ planning and design peer review to achieve these outcomes. It is argued that these positive shifts have begun to counter the long history of faltering post-industrial development and ‘jurisdictional gridlock’ that has plagued Toronto's waterfront since the 1960s.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:White, Dr James
Authors: White, J. T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Progress in Planning
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN:0305-9006
ISSN (Online):1873-4510
Published Online:05 October 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Progress in Planning 110: 1-41
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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