Contemporary Heritage: Oxymoron or The Only Way Forward?
Many cities are confronted by a recurring battle between heritage advocacy and development interests. Will these two ways of thinking ever be able to work together? Toronto is among a growing number of cities that believe they must because it is the only way forward. This tour will focus on a series of best practices that reconcile the interests of heritage conservation with the growth and evolution of Toronto. We will visit sites that leverage heritage resources to create long-term value for development and communities, including examples of adaptive re-use, heritage districts, and contemporary designs that are propelling our city’s history into the future.
The New Wealth is Health: Realigning Our Cities
For generations, the wealth of individuals was defined by the accumulation of ‘stuff’: a big house with a double-car garage and all the shiny new things. These indications of wealth are changing however, where the predominant aspiration among us increasingly centres around improving our health and well-being. This growing aspiration is taking root and reshaping the way we view and design our cities, buildings, and spaces. No matter the focus, be it active living, aging in place, affordability, or mental health, cities are a critical determinant of how we feel. This tour will visit private developments and community initiatives that have re-oriented their sense of purpose to meaningfully improve the health and well-being of communities and individuals in Toronto. Discover what it looks like to foster physical and mental health, social and economic well-being , and the cultural and political climates required to design for these new dimensions of ‘wealth’ for everyone.
Toronto Waterfront: A Neighbourhood to Dive Into
For the longest time, Toronto’s waterfront was functional – it enabled the flow of goods from shipping freighters to trains and trucks. While there is still some of this activity going on, it is quickly and quietly becoming a place to live, work, and play. The waterfront is blossoming with parks and trails, residential towers and amenities, and an expanding financial district, all the while evolving into a destination for weekenders and international tourists alike. This tour will weave through big redevelopments – a park tucked under an expressway, wooden boardwalks and uplifted streetcars, cultural venues and street art, proliferating towers and street vendors – to witness just how much a city can rediscover its waterfront. Weather permitting, this tour will take place on bicycles.
Private Business & Public Interest
The role of the private sector in delivering public good is expanding. While Toronto city-building has a long history of being progressive, more is being asked of developers and the larger city-building industry in light of growing public revenue shortages and social demands. New initiatives are pushing the boundaries of private sector delivery of the public interest, including Sidewalk Labs at Waterfront Toronto’s Quayside, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s latest plan for integrated housing, and Infrastructure Ontario’s expanding Public-Private-Partnership (P3) portfolio. As city-building becomes more complex and technologically sophisticated, how can the government and its agencies make sure the interests of the public are heard? This tour will explore the creative ways we’re seeing Toronto city-builders deliver complete communities that minimize public costs while maximizing public interest.
Two distinct waves of high-rise development in Toronto have created one of North America’s tallest cities. In the first wave, more than 2,000 apartment towers were built between 1950 and 1970, establishing ‘tower clusters’ as the foundation of purpose-built rental stock in Toronto. This provided affordable housing to more than one million residents, or 20% of the city’s total housing stock. Through Toronto’s Tower Renewal Program and other initiatives, these aging post-war tower clusters are set to receive significant upgrades and investment to help transition the buildings into socially vibrant and economically viable communities. In the second wave, Toronto experienced another massive boom in apartment tower construction This tour will visit Toronto’s post-war and contemporary tower neighbourhoods, spotlighting the various challenges they face today and the urban-living promise they make to current and future residents across all demographics.
Toronto is the world’s most diverse city, home to virtually every culture on the planet, where more than half of residents self-identify as visible minorities. For centuries, global kinship networks have driven the city’s economic and demographic growth and booming real-estate market. The result? A mosaic of unique and vibrant communities, a world-class talent pool, and one of the most eclectic food and culture scenes in the world. This tour will showcase Toronto’s cultural mosaic and profile the driving forces that underpin what makes a city a home for everyone. In an age of growing divides, these conversations remind us why diverse cities are the most dynamic cities.
Urbanism: Where Form Follows Function
Whether we like it or not, technology is redefining our built environment. Technology continues to drastically shift behaviours and preferences around the workplace and shopping, redefining our conception of placemaking in urban centres. The future success of a city will depend on its ability to adapt its built environment to the new ways we live. This tour will examine how Toronto’s built environment is adapting retail, office, and housing offerings and will include an interactive experience with the city’s leading change-makers in technology.
Toronto is Crazy Innovative.
What Does this Mean for Buildings, Communities & Development?
The Tech Industry and Real Estate need each other. Tech needs Real Estate to grow and Real Estate needs Tech to improve itself. And both industries are booming in Toronto. Toronto ranks highest in tech jobs growth in Canada and the U.S., Sidewalk Labs has setup shop here, and Toronto is on the shortlist for the new Amazon HQ. Start-ups, Incubators, Accelerators, Disruption – it’s all here in the Toronto SuperCluster. On this tour you’ll meet the people and organizations leading the charge. Together let’s try to answer this question: how do we make Toronto a global leader in PropTech and leverage tech to make the built-environment better?
Big Cities, Big Data, Big Business
Big cities are tasked with navigating the unique set of challenges that come with tackling housing affordability and smart growth in tandem. While technology offers a suite of new solutions to complex urban issues, it brings along with it an entirely new set of challenges. This tour will examine the innovation policies that guide government decision-making and various initiatives being put forth by Alphabet and other technology companies to find answers to our biggest city-building questions.
Public Spaces by the Public
This tour will highlight the stories and people who are putting the ‘public’ back into public spaces. Far too often, residents are seen simply as users and not co-creators of parks and public spaces. When communities are empowered to shape shared spaces with events, programs, art, and infrastructure that reflect their unique needs and identities, parks and public spaces become more inclusive, interesting, and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. We will visit some of Toronto’s most dynamic communities where residents are leading a people-first approach to the ongoing management and programming of their civic commons.
Toronto’s Laneways: Tapping into Overlooked Spaces
Toronto is growing at a rapid pace, with nearly 25,000 new residents moving to our city each year. Our downtown and midtown neighbourhoods are intensifying in response – and to get the most out of our land, some developers, City staff and communities are beginning to tap into a layer of our urban fabric that has long been ignored. This tour will highlight emerging ways in which Toronto’s 2400 laneways are being used to open up a second frontage to properties, transforming them into full, vibrant parts of our public realm in the process.