Eastern Construction – East Bayfront

East Bayfront is one project that will help transform Toronto’s waterfront. Toronto’s waterfront on Lake Ontario is undergoing a transformation with several projects that are expected to revitalize the area and create attractive communities and urban waterfront destinations. One such project is the East Bayfront precinct, a 55-acre site that will have 7,000 new residential units, parks and public space, and retail and commercial development.

Built on a former commercial/ industrial site, it is expected to create more than 8,000 jobs, according to James Roche, senior project manager from Toronto Waterfront Corp.

The project includes 5.5 hectares of parks and public space; Sherbourne Park and the 1.5-kilometer promenade on the water’s edge; and 1 million square feet of commercial space. The residential scope includes 1,400 units of affordable rental housing and 5,700 units of market housing. Eastern Construction is the construction manager for the first phase of work.

The project will be completed in multiple phases, Roche says. “Right now, what’s happening is [we are building the] infrastructure, the roads, site services and the public spaces,” he says. “The larger parks are currently under construction with the different residential components each at different stages of development.”

Construction began in fall 2008, and that included site service work and demolition site work. Construction on the parks began in summer 2009 and is expected to be completed in summer 2010. While there are no set construction deadlines for the other aspects of the project, there are funding deadlines in place, Roche says. These projects are being funded by all levels of the government – federal, province and the city of Toronto.

Project Challenges

This project is challenging because it is being constructed on a former industrial site, Roche explains. “It’s a brownfield site, so there’s environmental and geotechnical concerns and limitations,” he says.

“We have worked with consultants and the ministry of the environment to assess and figure out how to deal with this [environmental] process. We have to make the sites safe for the public to use.” There are additional issues because of the high water table, Roche adds. “The designers have to consider poor geotechnical conditions when developing their designs,” he explains.

Focused on the Landscape

The goal of the project is to bring the waterfront back into the public domain. “The mandate for Waterfront Toronto is to transform the waterfront to create new communities and a world renown public edge,” Roche explains. “The site was dominated by industry for the past 150 years, and now [the city] is reclaiming it to make it more of an asset for the people of Toronto.

“There is currently a disconnect between the city and the waterfront because the place is not accessible,” he explains. “This push will definitely make it more public.”

For example, the landscape is an important feature of the project. “It’s not leftover or the space left behind after construction,” he explains. “It is open space from the get go. People will get to live beside world-renowned parks.” The parks will have water features and formal space such as park pavilions with a café and boardwalk, he adds.

“A proposed promenade will redefine the water’s edge, creating access where there was none, and connecting new communities and open spaces,” he describes.

Pedestrian Friendly

Roche says that this project is expected to meet LEED for Neighborhood Development requirements. “The stormwater is collected, treated and discharged into the lake,” he says. “There will be green roofs on all the buildings that will minimize runoffs, and there will be bike trails and public transit nearby.”

The neighborhood will be mixed-use and residents won’t have to rely on their vehicles as much, he points out. “It’s a scaled-down downtown, so basically people can walk to work and such,” he says.

According to Waterfront Toronto, it is overseeing several other projects on the waterfront:

  • Central Waterfront, which is a 3.5-kilometer area stretching from Bathurst Street to Parliament Street; which will consist of a reconfiguration of Queen’s Quay and public transit with a linear park, and a series of wavedecks and bridges;
  • West Don Lands, which is 80 acres and extends from Parliament Street in the west to Don River in the east and from King Street down to the rail corridor. It will include large parks and street scapes;
  • Lower Don Lands, a 308-acre area that runs from East Bayfront east to the Don Roadway and from West Don Lands south to the Ship Channel, which will include the creation of new communities and a reconfigured mouth of the Don River; and
  • Port Lands, which is 400 hectares and bounded by Keating Channel/Don River and Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, the Toronto inner harbor to the west, Ashbridges Bay in the east and Lake Ontario and Tommy Thompson Park in the south.

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