Waterfront Toronto: Outstanding excellence in a CSRS Report

Project Leads: Lisa Prime, Director of Environment & Innovation

Waterfront Toronto’s leadership in completing its first Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report (CSRSR) sets a high bar.

Waterfront Toronto has spent the last decade fulfilling its commitment to create a revitalized waterfront that sets a national and global model for sustainability. Sustainability has been a core corporate objective since initiation, in 2001, and our CEO always intended publishing performance in a triple bottom line, showing transparency and leadership in balancing priorities of environment, economic and social in the revitalization of the waterfront.

Recognizing ten years of progress on the waterfront, Waterfront Toronto has met its commitment and released not as a printed report, but as an online microsite (http://sr.waterfrontoronto.ca).  This project represents complex reporting relationships with key private sector partners, as well as priorities of all three levels of government, the city, the province and the federal government.  Accomplishing an agreed upon set of performance measures has been a significant task, as Waterfront Toronto represents a publicly funded organization partnering with the private sector to deliver important public benefits.

This triple bottom line reporting represents several years of alignment of corporate objectives and business unit performance.  This was further complicated by ensuring complete consideration of government priorities and establishing boundaries, including short and long term measures, as well as measures related to the complete community.  As a government organization, the need for reporting in this manner was a mixed consideration and commitment was complicated.  Sustainability reporting in this manner however is growing.  While uptake in government and real estate remains small, Waterfront Toronto considered its role in market transformation and pushing transparency and sustainability priorities as core to completion of this CSRSR.

The corporate manager of this project felt it notable to ensure this was not a paper report, but an interactive web based product that takes advantage of our innovation in technology and that links to continued data collection and growth of performance measures over coming years.  This way the CSRSR becomes a repository that is interactive from the back end.  Data collection from multiple partners is a challenge and our initial reporting list represents priorities but also performance for which data was available.  Implementing sustainability has always been concurrent with development of plans, designs and construction, and when capital projects are the priority, ensuring data is available will continue to be difficult.

 

Caption: Waterfront Toronto’s CSRSR microsite home page

 

Caption: The CSRSR’s 21 Performance Measures

 

The significance of this is best described by the following quote provided by one of the corporation’s partners:

“By covering issues of land, infrastructure, water management, public space and buildings, Waterfront Toronto’s Report sets a new standard for responsibility reporting in the real estate sector. But the Report also accomplishes more than just tracking achievements,” said Jamie James, Sustainability Advisor to Tridel and President of Tower Labs @MaRS, “It provides a living document for builders and building owners to use to attract a new generation of residents, businesses, and visitors to one of the most dynamic urban revitalization programs in all of North America.”

Highlights of our performance measures include the:

  • creation of 2,880 m2 of aquatic habitat;
  • creation of 496 affordable housing units currently under construction;
  • completion of significant flood protection infrastructure protecting 210 hectares (519 acres) of land

 

 

Caption: This pavilion, in Sherbourne Common along Toronto’s waterfront, was certified LEED Gold by the CaGBC in early 2013. 

 

 

The micro-site has seen steady increase of visitors, with little communications outreach so far.  Interest in WT sustainability progress is internationally.  Visitors to the site come from global reach, as do inquiries.  We will continue to communicate the importance of data and reporting, showing the relationship to our revitalization efforts and expect to see steady increase in interest and recognition in sustainability leadership for development.