Future City

Seven of Toronto’s most high-tech, sustainable and exciting new residential developments

1A New Waterfront
Quayside will transform the city’s shoreline.
First occupancy in 2030; construction complete in 2035

Waterfront Toronto aims to fix the bland industrial stretch at Queen’s Quay and Parliament Street with an ambitious net-zero mega-development. Quayside will consist of six plant-drenched residential buildings, an urban farm and a stroll-­worthy boardwalk. Meg Davis’s role is to manage the entire project, from concept to completion. We asked her all about it.

Compared with other cities’ waterfronts, Toronto’s is—What’s the right way to say this?—a little bit uninspired. How could Quayside change that?
Meg Davis is the manager of Quayside, a new real estate development project on the Toronto waterfront.First off, the buildings in Quayside are going to be stunning. One of them, called the Overstory and designed by Henning Larsen, will have a community care hub, including a daycare and seniors’ services. Another, the Timber House, designed by Adjaye Associates, will be a mid-rise made from mass timber. Its rooftop will have a one-acre urban farm, including greenhouses, plotting spaces and dreamy views of the water.

What’s this we hear about an urban forest?
We want to foster a real sense of commun­ity and attract people to that part of the waterfront. The two-acre forest will be fully accessible to the public and will host events, markets and live music. There will be a mix of lawn, forest, seating areas and other elements, like a basketball court.

Related: These architects are revitalizing Toronto’s long-suffering waterfront

What might day-to-day life there look like?
I picture someone who lives in Quayside popping into the local coffee shop, catching a play at the cultural centre or walking along the water. You’ll be able to find everything you need there, and it will welcome people of all economic levels, with more than 800 units of affordable housing.

Kidding but not kidding: What if people never want to leave?
We want to attract people to Quayside because it’s different, with options you can’t find elsewhere in the city—like our community forest and our farm. It will also create 1,600 jobs, such as positions in food service. The community care hub will need staff too.

Mass timber is a low-carbon alternative to steel. The Timber House will be one of Canada’s largest residential buildings made of the new, soon-to-be-everywhere material. Images courtesy of Waterfront Toronto
Quayside plans to use a 200,000- square-foot venue for Indigenous celebrations, arts performances and more
Residents can grow their own veggies in the giant rooftop farm
Once complete, Quayside will be one of Canada’s largest all-electric, zero-­carbon-emissions communities
Residents can take a break from walking by the waves to explore their neighbourhood’s mini forest
The Overstory will double as the community’s hub, providing both daycare and aging-in-place services. While there’s room for plenty of commercial and retail space, Davis says they plan to stick to curated mom-and-pop shops and avoid big box chain stores

The Orbit is a futuristic smart community planned for Innisfil in 2025.

2Suburban Paradise
The Orbit reimagines a once-quaint town.
Construction to start in 2025

The Orbit is a futuristic smart community that wants to change the way we think about the burbs. The development will be located in Innisfil, about 100 kilometres north of Toronto, and early design plans look like something straight out of The Jetsons. Picture self-driving vehicles, drone ports, and every street, sidewalk and building interconnected by a fibre-optic network. The new neighbourhood will also be dense, packing 90,000 people into roughly 1,000 acres and preserving the surrounding agricultural land. The first step is to complete the new Innisfil GO train station, around which everything else will be built. Construction on the $29-million transit project is expected to start this year. Once it’s finished, trains will whisk commuters downtown every 15 minutes.

Related: Inside Uber’s self-driving car lab

In the late 19th century, British urban planner Ebenezer Howard popularized what he called the “Garden City”—circular developments connected to major cities by rail or road. The Orbit is based on this concept and is meant to neutralize urban sprawl by housing citizens in a dense commuter community. Unlike the grid-shaped model of most cities, here the major streets will diverge from the train station diagonally, like spokes in a wheel, making it easier for people to walk to and from the hub
The Orbit will be a “15-minute city,” meaning that all amenities will be accessible within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Instead of single-family homes, there will be a series of mid-rise buildings. Such density makes the most of land resources and keeps the planet livable for future generations

3The Queen of Green
Tyndale will be affordable, sustainable and car-free.
Construction to start in 2024; first occupancy in 2026

After Jennifer Keesmaat left her job as Toronto’s chief urban planner in 2017, she travelled around the world, working in Vienna, Oslo and Shanghai. She returned to Toronto two years later to start her own development company, Markee, along with business partner Jason Marks, who was previously the CEO of Shiplake Properties. Their mission is to build affordable rental housing in our increasingly unaffordable city. One of Markee’s first projects is Tyndale Green, a 12-building, 1,500-unit development located on the Tyndale University campus, near Bayview and Steeles. Here, Keesmaat tells us more about her dream community.

Travelling the world is a sweet gig. Why come back to Toronto?
Jennifer Keesmata is runs Markee, the development company behind Tyndale Green.I wanted to build housing in my own city. All of Markee’s projects address what we call “the missing middle.” In Toronto, we have a lot of tall buildings and a lot of urban sprawl, but we’re missing middle housing—both in terms of the size of the buildings and the income level of the people who live there. A significant number of the Tyndale units will be affordable, priced at half of Toronto’s average market rate. We’ll make less profit, and we’re okay with that.

Any wisdom from abroad that you plan to bring to Tyndale?
I was particularly inspired by Amsterdam, where affordable housing is fully integrated into market housing on a large scale. I like the notion that you can build communities without a housing hierarchy. Housing is for shelter; it shouldn’t be an investment or a marker of social status.

What do you like most about it?
The current site is surrounded by 30 acres of green space, including a ravine. The traditional sub­urban approach would be to add roads, streets and parking. But we decided not to do that. Instead, we made it a car-free environment. There will be a loop road for accessibility, pickups and drop-offs, but people will mostly get around by walking. All of the vehicle parking will be below ground. Tyndale Green will be very peaceful and pastoral, like living in a park.

Right, but it’s also located in the middle of a university. What will that be like?
Tyndale University is a seminary with 1,000 students. So it won’t be like living at Western University, which has 40,000 students. Our goal is for there to be a lovely synergy between the school and the new community members.

Tyndale will be mostly mid-rises, with six-to-eight-storey buildings. About 30 acres of green space, including the ravine, will surround the community. There will be 1,525 bike parking spots located above and below ground. Instead of roads, a network of pathways will connect the buildings. “You won’t have cars zooming by your apartment unit,” says Keesmaat. “You’ll be able to walk around the community with your child on a tricycle without worrying.” Image courtesy of Markee

Mirvish Village will feature hundreds of affordable rental units, its own indoor-outdoor entertainment complex, and a collection of buzzy restaurants and bars.

4Fun and Games
Mirvish Village has a concert venue and neon galore.
First phase of construction complete

When Westbank Corporation announced that it would raze Honest Ed’s to make room for a new development, Torontonians let out a collective sigh—yet another downtown institution demolished to make room for what we assumed would be yet another soulless condo tower. But Mirvish Village is an indisputable improvement. The site will feature hundreds of affordable rental units, its own indoor-outdoor entertainment complex, and a collection of buzzy restaurants and bars housed inside a building aptly dubbed “The Kitchen.” Westbank also recreated the spirit of the original neighbourhood with a neon-laden alley where 25 retailers can hawk their wares from micro-storefronts. Saying goodbye to Ed’s may not be so bittersweet after all.

Related: Inside the gravity-defying lives of Toronto’s high-rise workers

The site has six towers totalling 916 rental units, 366 of which will be desig­nated as affordable. Images by Tandem Studios, courtesy of Westbank
Tokyo’s marketways inspired the new aesthetic of Honest Ed’s alley. Imagine tight walkways packed with shops and pedestrians, illuminated by bright lights and flashy signage
The Kitchen houses 18 vendors providing a wide selection of foods within smelling distance. This indoor-outdoor entertainment complex has a maximum capacity of 750

Mirvish Village will feature hundreds of affordable rental units, its own indoor-outdoor entertainment complex, and a collection of buzzy restaurants and bars.

5Beach Vibes
Scarborough’s Florida-inspired residential venture.
Construction to start in 2024

The new proposed 11-storey building at Victoria Park and Lawrence Avenue East is designed to look like a laid-back vacation destination. The purpose-built rental complex is completely open air, with all of its corridors exposed to the elements. There’s a leafy courtyard at the centre of everything and vertical gardens throughout. The beach vibe is meant to encourage residents to socialize instead of just shuttling into and out of their units, studiously ignoring their neighbours. Now that’s a radical idea.

The complex will be built using pre-made timber-and-concrete segments that can be assembled on site, cutting construction time by 20 to 50 per cent and reducing noise disturbance. Images courtesy of Well Grounded Real Estate
There will be vertical gardens throughout the building, with an irrigation system to keep everything alive—giving everyone the benefit of a garden without anyone having to remember to water it
The outdoor hallways will be 10 feet wide and will double as social areas where residents can hang out
To maximize natural light, the units have windows facing both the exterior and the courtyard
The building is expected to include a daycare

A proposed 61-storey skyscraper in Yorkville

6Slim City
The skinny on Yorkville’s newest condo project.
Construction to start in 2025

Toronto doesn’t have a lot of space for new residential buildings. In the future, this could be solved with ultra-thin, ultra-tall structures—and this 61-storey Yorkville skyscraper is one possible prototype. It’s narrower than most Toronto condos, allowing developers to wedge it into an already packed neighbourhood. That’s not to say the place isn’t swanky. Its diamond-patterned design makes it look like a glittering jewel suspended in the sky, and inside are plenty of slick amenities, including two elevators to shuttle cars between the building’s underground parking and the street.

The base is set back from the street, creating space for a public plaza at ground level. Images courtesy of Collaborative Architecture Laboratory
The building may be tall, but there are only 79 units inside—18 of which are nearly 3,000 square feet
There will be 85 parking spots, all located underground, with two elevators to shuttle vehicles up and down. There will also be space for up to 84 bikes, all stored using an automated underground sorting system similar to the electronic rails at the dry cleaner

King Toronto, designed by architect Bjarke Ingels, will have 440 units, a spa and a central courtyard.

7Lego Land
King Toronto will rewrite the downtown skyline.
Construction complete by 2024

If Lego-obsessed extraterrestrials somehow got into the condo game, the result might look something like this 16-storey complex. Architect Bjarke Ingels says he took inspiration from buildings in Paris and Montreal to create the stacked-glass-box design. It has 440 units, and remaining ones start at $700,000 and go up—way up—from there. (A Toronto businessman reportedly bought one of the penthouses for $16 million, the second-highest sale for a condo in Toronto history.) Residents will have access to a spa, a secret(ish) garden and a central courtyard with a water feature that creates mist.

Along the base of the develop­ment, on King Street, will be 150,000 square feet of office and retail space. Images by Hayes Davidson, courtesy of Westbank
A communal garden will have vine-­covered walls, a seating area and an outdoor oven
There will be an indoor lap pool and hot tub, an indoor-outdoor pool overlooking King Street West and Scandinavian-inspired spa facilities
Sir Elton John recently purchased a penthouse in the building with his Toronto-born partner, David Furnish
Nearly every unit in King Toronto will have a small terrace with a garden