Waterfront Sustainability Planning in Ontario: A Review of Toronto, Kingston, and Barrie

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Clark, Rebecca
Waterfront Sustainability Planning , Historical Waterfront Development , Urban Land Use and Regeneration , Waterfront Regeneration , Sustainability and Sustainability Assessment
With increasingly large populations living in cities, it has become important for sustainable urban planning practices to optimize urban locations. As cities are commonly located on waterbodies, waterfronts have become a spotlight of urban sustainability planning. Waterfront regeneration therefore aims to revitalize waterfronts that have been left as vast areas of polluted, underutilized terrain. This concept has been made popular specifically within the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront by David Crombie, who made recommendations on waterfront sustainability. My research utilizes various literature available on waterfront planning to design a Waterfront Sustainability Evaluation Framework, based predominantly on sustainability themes developed by Gibson (2006) within Sustainability Assessment: Basic Components of Practical Approach. The framework is applied to three urban waterfront case studies based on population comparisons; Toronto, Kingston, and Barrie. Document analysis, specifically conducted on NVIVO 12, was utilized to code specific aspects of the framework to references within the chosen city planning documents. The document analysis determined that Kingston most successfully met the Waterfront Sustainability Evaluation Framework. It can be predicted that this is because Waterfront Kingston has been developed in conjunction with Sustainable Kingston, using valuable expertise from Waterfront Toronto. Therefore, the framework focuses on many of the main Waterfront Sustainability Evaluation Framework themes. Closer analysis of the data also displayed successes per attribute for Toronto and Barrie. Examining each municipality identified common trends of where each city is lacking and where best management practices in support of sustainability are more commonly adapted. Data analysis between all three case studies also displayed less important aspects which were included in the Waterfront Sustainability Evaluation Framework and could be omitted. Additionally, safety, economic development, innovation and aesthetics, connectivity, and transparency were determined to be topics for future research applications. Overall, the research suggests that the framework developed was successful in helping understand the importance of specific themes within waterfront sustainability planning, and the literature review strongly reflected the themes which were displayed in the chosen case study city planning documents. Through the research conducted, it is distinctly recognizable that waterfronts within cities are continuing to evolve to apply to the larger concept of urban planning. Sustainable waterfront planning has the capability of sparking improvements and progress within waterfront areas, as well as the entirety of a city, to promote positive sustainable change.
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