Toronto was named a Special Mention city at the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2016 for its outstanding social integration strategies, such as those helmed by its Toronto Public Library, as well as the reversal of the dying city core trend experienced by many North American cities. The city achieved the latter through attention to good urban design in its waterfront rejuvenation project. Here’s a visual walk-through of what makes Toronto tick for its people.
Canada’s largest and most prosperous city
Toronto is Canada’s largest and most prosperous city. Its location on Lake Ontario connects it to the Great Lakes watershed, which contains 20% of the entire Earth’s fresh water supply, so it is blessed with a resource scarce in many other places.
Toronto City Hall © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with non-native Canadians making up 49% of its 2.8 million population. Toronto residents comprise over 230 ethnic origins and 45% of the population identifies their mother tongue as distinct from Canada’s two official languages.
Brookfield Place in Toronto © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Toronto is growing
Toronto is the fastest-growing large city in North America, with 80,000 – 100,000 new residents arriving to the metro area per year. There are currently 147 buildings over 20 storeys under construction.
A residential development in Toronto © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Toronto Public Library
The Toronto Public Library system was created with the formation of Greater Toronto in 1998, bringing together seven separate library systems into one. The library has created equitable access to world class library programmes, spaces, and collections to all corners of the city.
Toronto Public Library © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Welcoming newcomers to the city
A newcomer to the city often makes their first stop to the local library, where a person – often once a newcomer themselves – at a dedicated desk provides the settlement information that they need.
Welcoming newcomers to the city at Toronto Public Library © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Toronto transformed its waterfront from industrial port lands that cut off public access to the waters into a well-designed, publicly accessible, and attractive district.
Toronto Waterfront © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Toronto places emphasis on ‘Complete Streets’ in the design of its Waterfront district – streets that support all modes of transportation equally.
Toronto’s complete street strategy © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Good urban design
The city recognised that crowded downtowns would need to make the most of small spaces. The Wavedecks as seen in this photo create exciting new places on former industrial slips that had never been designed with public gathering or recreation in mind.
Toronto Wavedecks © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Sugar Beach is a whimsical new park that transformed a surface parking lot in a former industrial area into Toronto’s second urban beach at the water’s edge. The park’s brightly coloured pink beach umbrellas welcome visitors to the new waterfront neighbourhood of East Bayfront.
Toronto Sugar Beach © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
The water features in Sherbourne Common are designed to attract visitors as well as educate them about water quality, and how the water is collected, treated and made usable again.
Sherbourne Common © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
PATH underground system
Toronto has over 40 years of experience developing the PATH underground system, originally intended to accommodate rush-hour demands of downtown commuters and direct underground connection between Union Station and 4 other subway stops. Today, it has evolved into a well-used pedestrian network that offers convenience and year-round climate controlled comfort space for both commuters and residents alike. The Brookfield Place designed by Spanish Architect Santiago Calatrava (pictured above) is one such place that the PATH network connects to.
PATH underground system © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Celebrating the city spaces
Festivals such as Nuit Blanche bring people onto the streets to enjoy the many public spaces in the city.
Toronto Nuit Blanche 2015 © Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize