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Minister McKenna points to Waterfront Toronto revitalization as symbol of Canada's infrastructure ambitions

·10-min read

TORONTO, June 25, 2021 /CNW/ - Today the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities visited Canada's Sugar Beach – the transformed Waterfront Toronto park that was once a surface parking lot in a former industrial area. Featuring a plaza, a tree-lined promenade and views of large freighters docking in the slip to deliver sugar to the neighbouring Redpath factory, the accessible urban beach is but one of the many Waterfront Toronto revitalization projects to embody Canada's infrastructure ambitions: to build public infrastructure that provides economic, social and environmental benefits for people across the country.

During the visit, Minister McKenna also toured a waterfront revitalization project currently underway: the Waterfront Innovation Centre. The Centre will support the creation of a commercial district in East Bayfront and respond to the need of knowledge-based companies and workers. Central to the project is the waterfront-wide ultra-high-speed broadband fibre-optic network that is delivering one of Toronto's fastest and most economical high-speed Internet service.

Minister McKenna also checked in on progress of the Port Lands Flood Protection Project which, once complete, will offer flood protection to Toronto's southeastern downtown area as well as become home to new parks, bridges, roads and the new residential community of Villiers Island.

The revitalization of Toronto's waterfront is the largest urban redevelopment project currently underway in North America, and it is one of the largest waterfront revitalization efforts ever undertaken in the world. It includes federal, provincial and municipal investments in both traditional city-building infrastructure, such as local transportation and sewers, and more contemporary urban development, including parks, green spaces, recreation facilities and the redevelopment of underutilized post-industrial areas. These investments are expected to result in social and economic benefits for the Toronto region as well as contribute to Canada's continued success in the global economy.

Minister McKenna's visit follows a Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors meeting, the first such meeting for newly appointed federal members Leslie Woo, Drew Fagan and Rahul Bhardwaj. CEO of CivicAction, Leslie Woo is a respected leader with more than 25 years of experience building sustainable communities and shaping urban development in the Greater Toronto Area. Drew Fagan has spent more than 12 years in leadership positions with the governments of Ontario and Canada and is now a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto as well as senior advisor at McMillan Vantage Policy Group. Rahul Bhardwaj is President and CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors and is a champion for city building who served as Vice-President of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid. Their appointments follow a selection process launched in Fall 2020 to find experienced, engaged and enthusiastic members of the public to serve on the Waterfront Toronto Board. The selection process was open, transparent, merit-based, and reflected the diversity of Canada's population. The new federal Board members join Jeanhy Shim who was reappointed last year.

Minister McKenna extends her gratitude to Mazyar Mortazavi, Sevaun Palvetzian and Janet Rieksts-Alderman for their contributions to Waterfront Toronto as members of the Board of Directors. Throughout their terms, they each provided dedicated leadership to support the transformation of Toronto's waterfront area into beautiful, dynamic and sustainable public spaces.


"Waterfront Toronto's work to build a vibrant waterfront for everyone is creating jobs and economic opportunity, providing new access to green spaces and the water, and is building a more inclusive community. We are fortunate to have talented new federal board appointees that will play a critical role in delivering on this nation-building infrastructure project. I would like to thank Leslie Woo, Drew Fagan and Rahul Bhardwaj for agreeing to serve with Jeanhy Shim and other board members and use their skills and talents to work with provincial and municipal board members to transform the waterfront and create extraordinary new places to live, work, learn and play."

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

"I am pleased to welcome these three new Directors to the Board of Waterfront Toronto. They will strengthen our governance with their experience, knowledge and dedication. The Government of Canada has, and continues to be, a tremendous partner and champion of the nationally-significant revitalization work underway on Toronto's waterfront."

Stephen Diamond, Chair, Board of Directors, Waterfront Toronto

Quick facts

  • Waterfront Toronto (formally "Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation") is a partner corporation that was established in 2001 by the Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Toronto to oversee, lead and deliver the renewal and revitalization of Toronto's waterfront.

  • The corporation has a 25-year mandate and $30-billion long-term plan to transform 800 hectares of brownfield lands on Toronto's waterfront into beautiful, accessible and sustainable mixed-use communities and dynamic public spaces – one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America.

  • Construction began on the full Port Lands Flood Protection project in July 2018. Work to date includes installation of on-site soil management and water treatment facilities, completion of dock walls in the Keating Channel, extensive marine landscaping, site preparation at the location of future parks and roads, bridge foundations at three locations, site preparation north of Lake Shore Boulevard and ongoing deep excavation of the river valley and Don Greenway. The project is forecasted to be complete by 2024.

  • Waterfront Toronto's Board of Directors consists of 12 members and one Chair, and is responsible for oversight of the corporation's business and affairs. All three orders of government are represented on the Board of Directors, which oversees Waterfront Toronto's business and affairs. The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities is responsible for appointing federal members.

  • A formal and public Notice of Appointment Opportunity was issued in fall 2020 to ensure that the successful candidates were selected through an open, transparent and merit-based selection process. The process encouraged applications from a diversity of individuals with a wide range of expertise who are interested in helping ensure the revitalization of Toronto's Waterfront is delivered in an accountable, transparent manner.

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Leslie Woo CRE® is a respected leader with over 25 years of experience building sustainable communities and shaping urban development in Canada's fastest-growing urban region, the Greater Toronto Area. Leslie assumed the role of CEO at CivicAction in September 2020. CivicAction is a premier civic engagement organization that convenes established and rising leaders from all sectors, backgrounds and experiences to catalyze actions and impactful solutions to address pressing challenges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and beyond.

Before joining CivicAction, Leslie spent over a decade with Metrolinx, including as Chief Planning and Development Officer. Leslie is a tri-sector athlete with experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors as a planner, architect and community activator. An accomplished leader, Leslie was named Bisnow's 2019 Toronto Power Women in Commercial Real Estate, one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017 by WXN, Spacing Toronto's Transit Changemaker in 2016 and Canada's Women's Infrastructure Network's 2015 Outstanding Leader. Founder of, Leslie uses her voice and platform to amplify and celebrate other women city builders.

Drew Fagan is a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, where he teaches in graduate degree programs and leads other university initiatives.

Mr. Fagan is also a senior advisor at McMillan Vantage Policy Group, a national public affairs firm affiliated with the law firm McMillan. As a public policy advisor, his clients have included departments, agencies and boards with all three orders of government, as well as Indigenous organizations, international associations and public interest startups.

Mr. Fagan is co-project director of the Ontario 360 initiative and is active in other think tanks and university institutes.

Mr. Fagan previously spent 12 years in leadership positions with the governments of Ontario and Canada.

With Ontario, he was Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, with responsibility for Ontario's long-term infrastructure plan. He was also Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport on two separate occasions, with responsibility for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games.

Mr. Fagan joined the Ontario Public Service in 2009 from Ottawa, where he was Assistant Deputy Minister for strategic policy and planning at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now Global Affairs Canada).

Before becoming a public servant in 2004, he worked at The Globe and Mail, including as parliamentary bureau chief, editorial page editor, foreign editor, associate editor of the Report on Business, and Washington correspondent.

Mr. Fagan is a board member of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall and other organizations. He is a member of the advisory board of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre in Washington, D.C. He is a former member of the corporate audit committee of the Government of Ontario and a former board member of the Canadian Tourism Commission. He served in the United Way of Toronto campaign cabinet. He was also a long-time member of the advisory board of the Munk School.

Mr. Fagan's writing has appeared recently in The New York Times, The Globe and Mail and other publications.

Mr. Fagan holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen's University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario, He received his ICD.D designation from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, in 2017.

As President and CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors, Rahul Bhardwaj leads an organization of 15,000 members committed to improving national outcomes by growing the board leadership and governance capacities within Canadian businesses, agencies and not-for-profits.

Mr. Bhardwaj currently serves on the boards of the Institute of Corporate Directors and as Chair of the Global Network of Director Institutes, as well as the Leader Council at the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at the Ivey Business School.

He was Chair of the 2012 Ontario Summer Games, the first multi-sport games to be held in Toronto, and was Co-chair of TO2015 IGNITE, a program of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games. Other past board commitments include board member of the Rideau Hall Foundation, board member of Metrolinx, Chair of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, Chair of Community Foundations of Canada, director of Stratford Festival of Canada, George Brown College and United Way of Toronto, and many others.

Prior to joining the ICD, Mr. Bhardwaj was a corporate lawyer at a leading Canadian law firm, and later served as President and CEO of the Toronto Foundation, where he focused on engaging philanthropy to improve the quality of life of residents of Toronto. He was also Vice-President of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid and, as part of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Fiscal Review Panel in 2008, Mr. Bhardwaj was involved in identifying efficiencies for the City of Toronto.

In 2012, Mr. Bhardwaj's commitment to city building was recognized as he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been named one of "The 50 Most Influential" people in the city by Toronto Life magazine and was named to the Quadrangle Society at Massey College. His vision for Toronto and Canada has made him a popular presenter and speaker locally, nationally and internationally, particularly on issues relating to leadership and governance.

Associated links

Waterfront Toronto:

Infrastructure Canada and the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative

Federal infrastructure investments in Ontario:

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