Toronto’s skyline is constantly in flux. As one tower crane becomes the elevator of a high-rise, another materializes in the skyline – signs of a city caught in a constant sprawl both vertically and horizontally.

"At the moment, Toronto is home to about 130 high-rises under construction."

Over the course of the next 20 years, three million people (the size of Montreal) will join the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. At the moment, Toronto is home to about 130 high-rises under construction, describes Kerri Voumvakis, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Analysis for Toronto’s City Planning Division.

“It’s unique in North America to have that amount of construction,” she says. “But Toronto is an exciting place where people want to live.”

The booming metropolis has been compared to Dubai, another city that's constantly evolving.

To match the pace of population growth, vertical communities (layered, mixed-use buildings that combine residential, commercial and business purposes) have sprung up in Toronto’s core, says Voumvakis. “With the growing population of Toronto, we want to retain and protect our employment lands so they can live and work in the city,” she adds.

New geographies

Fostering healthy living environments is also vital, so much so that the city has adopted by-laws that promote green roofs and sustainable construction. Sprawling green spaces along the waterfront and at Downsview Park create healthier environments amongst the urban fabric.

Facilities completed in time for next year’s Pan-Am Games will also contribute to a more sustainable city.

“You can have development approval, but if you’re not putting in place infrastructure like parkettes, bike lanes, and the opportunities to stop and shop, people won’t want to go there,” adds Voumvakis.

Infrastructure needs to support our city

“The visible things are the towers going up, but there’s lots of activity that has to happen to support all that construction,” says Jamieson Robinson, Business Development Manager for Graham Construction’s Ontario market.

He points to the underlying infrastructure: the electrical wires, sewage systems and network of water pipes that supply the “hungry new buildings.” “It’s the interconnectivity of all the neighbourhoods and businesses,” says Robinson.

He further mentions that Toronto has been a world focus for the past couple of years, inspiring a journey for other construction firms, consultants, and finance companies.

Graham Construction itself saw a growth opportunity a decade ago and pushed its way into the market from Saskatchewan and Calgary. “It’s become highly competitive,” he adds.

Deeper still

Under the surface, Metrolinx’s transit plan, The Big Move, is well underway. Sixteen billion in dedicated funds is assigned for transit and transportation priorities.

Metrolinx is already tunneling beneath Eglinton Avenue as part of a crosstown Light Rail Transit. It will also be launching the Union Pearson Express – an express rail service connecting Union Station to the Airport. As well, the TTC is extending the University-Spadina subway north to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. 

“The infrastructure we build will be with this region for a hundred years or more” says Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx. 

“This carries a big responsibility to build systems and services that keep a strong eye on the future, as well as our needs in the here and now.”