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October 6, 2010
Toronto releases results of Tall Buildings Downtown study
Today, the City of Toronto released the findings of the "Tall Buildings, Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto" study. This study proposes a vision and a set of performance standards for new tall buildings in downtown Toronto. Community consultation with regard to the study findings will take place in the spring of 2011.

The study by Urban Strategies Inc. and Hariri Pontarini Architects, creates a vision for tall buildings in the downtown, identifies where those buildings belong, and sets out height limits and performance standards relating to their structure, their relationship to neighbouring properties and to their surroundings.

The study focuses on enhancing the pedestrian environment; minimizing shadowing of sidewalks, parks and public squares; protecting landmark views and heritage resources and improving the quality of life (access to natural light, sky views and privacy) for people living and working in the city’s core. Together, the study vision and performance standards are intended to assist with the review of new tall building applications in downtown Toronto.

“Toronto has the second largest number of tall buildings in North America and it’s these types of buildings that help define Toronto's downtown," said Gary Wright, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto. "As the city continues to grow and evolve, tall buildings will remain a part of that landscape, and we need to ensure we have a plan as to how we design new tall buildings to protect our existing neighbourhoods and the liveability of this city.”

The Tall Buildings Downtown study area, which encompasses portions of Wards 20, 27 and 28, is bounded by Bathurst Street on the west, Dupont Street on the north, the Don Valley Parkway on the east and Lake Ontario on the south. Areas within this boundary that are subject to existing Secondary Plans have been excluded from the study.

The study identifies portions of major downtown streets where tall buildings are considered to be appropriate. These “High Streets” include streets such as Bay, Bloor, College, and King.

All new tall building proposals located along the “High Streets” would be subject to the set of performance standards. These performance standards relate either to the base or the tower portion of the building. The intent of the performance standards is to ensure that each new building and group of buildings achieves not only excellence in architecture, but also the desired relationship with one another and with the streets onto which they front.

The study’s performance standards have been derived from an on-the-ground assessment of local conditions within downtown Toronto, and through selective testing of chosen sites, supplemented by an assessment of experiences of cities from around North America. The Tall Buildings Downtown study builds upon pre-existing city-wide design guidelines known as the "Design Criteria for Review of Tall Buildings Proposals".

City staff will initiate community consultation in the spring of 2011, and report back to Council with the results of the community feedback. Staff will also be seeking Council direction on implementation options that could include additional Official Plan policies, zoning by-law provisions and design guidelines for tall building development downtown.

The Tall Buildings Downtown study, as well as a video providing an overview of the study, is available at the City’s website:

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media Contact:
Bruce Hawkins, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-392-3496,



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