It won’t be long before the PATH is teeming with people, tourism returns and the city comes back to life. Toronto’s city planners, developers and others are preparing for this inevitability.
The pandemic has been an opportunity for Toronto to pause its growth while figuring out how to build enough homes for those who come to Toronto to live, work and study at its academic institutions.
Toronto will come back after COVID. Clubs, theatres, sporting events, cafes and restaurants will reopen. People are ready to walk the city, meet friends over drinks and food, and enjoy what Toronto has to offer. How it does so is a work-in-process. Some changes are becoming clear.
Buildings Continue to Rise as Population Increases
In 20 years, the population south of Bloor St. is expected to double. Prior to the pandemic, Toronto was growing by about 10,000 people each month. The post-pandemic pace of growth will be faster. Toronto is taking steps to ensure there are jobs, places to live, and things to do for this growing population. More residential buildings continue to rise higher. Two buildings currently under construction will exceed 100 storeys.
Empty space is being repurposed. IKEA will soon appear at the base of the Aura condo building in an area that has been underutilized. Office space remaining vacant is likely to be converted to residential use to include co-working space for those working from home.
More Parks, Trails and Pedestrian-Friendly Spaces
Yonge Street is being transformed. It is being redesigned in congested areas to accommodate more pedestrians, outdoor cafes and cyclists. There will be fewer lanes for automobiles north of Sheppard Ave.; and between College St. and Queen St. These spaces are likely to fill up quickly as the city population doubles over the next 20 years.
The Port Lands will soon be an area of trails and playgrounds. Hydro fields have and continue to be enhanced to include walking and biking trails connecting green spaces and parks. City streets are being reoriented to benefit pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. A John Street Cultural Corner will include space for sidewalk performances and public art. Little Canada, a new museum in Yonge-Dundas Square, will feature a miniature model of Canada. The Toronto portion will include miniature cars driving along the 401, a 15-foot-high CN Tower and Rogers Centre with a dome that opens.
Exhibition Place is changing. A new sports and entertainment complex will rise in the shape of a spaceship with seating for 7,000. The venue will include digital walls and virtual reality to support technology-oriented events. Queens Quay and other areas will have new and larger breweries with more outdoor space.
Parliament Slip will be a new park including self-contained swimming pools in Lake Ontario. There will be docks for kayaks, canoes and electric boats all available for rental; a pier with concession stands; floating restaurant and amphitheatre.
Leslie Slip Lookout Park will include a public beach and open-air pavilion from which to watch ships entering the channel. This green corridor will connect Tommy Thompson Park to the Martin Goodman Trail.
Liberty Village will have a new fitness centre with cycling studio, therapy and lap pools, golf simulators, golf studio, lounges and meeting rooms.
New hotels are being planned to accommodate the growing numbers of tourists and business travellers that are expected.
As the pandemic pause in Toronto’s growth and development ends, the city is expected to be better than ever.