The Toronto Island Ferry Terminal, renamed the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in 2012, has been in operation at the foot of Bay Street since 1972, when it opened roughly 100 meters to the east of its previous location. Now 42 years after that move, the ferry terminal and the adjacent Harbour Square Park are showing signs of age, both aesthetically and functionally. Approximately 1.3 million passengers pass through this space per year to ride the ferries, making the terminal a very high-visibility facility for both locals and tourists to Toronto alike. 

The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, image by Craig White

The Terminal's prominence has now made it top of mind for Waterfront Toronto, the body responsible for revitalizing all aspects of our lakefront edge, so the agency has announced an "Innovative Design Competition" to find a team to redesign both the terminal and the surrounding lands. The land totals 4.6 ha (11.4 acres) of both public and leased land between the bottom of York Street on the west and the Pier 27 condominiums on the east. The primary study area hugs the Harbour Square condominiums and Harbour Castle Westin Hotel, and the ferry terminal itself. Secondary study areas include the water edge park and Sundial folly towards York Street, and the lands on either side of the Yonge Street Slip on the east.  

Stage one of the two-stage juried process invites teams from around the world to submit their qualifications. Based on the teams' fulfillment of the following criteria, five or six will be chosen for a short list.

  • Innovative approach
  • Outstanding work experience
  • Personnel experience/commitment of principals to lead the team 

Short-listed teams will then take part in an eight week long design exercise that will begin with an orientation setting in January. At the end of the eight weeks the teams will present their proposals at a public exhibition in March 2015. Feedback from members of the public, a stakeholder advisory committee made up of representatives of local residents, merchants, and neighbourhood associations, and a technical advisory committee from City departments and agencies will all be considered by a jury of design professionals to help select the winners.

Apple Maps aerial view of the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park

Christopher Glaisek, Vice President of Planning and Design, Waterfront Toronto spoke to this new initiative: “Design competitions play a key role in the transformation of Toronto’s waterfront. The innovative ideas that stem from competition submissions help raise the level of planning and design in our city and provide an opportunity for public conversations to unfold about key waterfront sites.” 

Once the winning team or teams is announced, they will proceed with a multi-phased Master Plan for the area. Current funding allows for the competition and initial planning to take place, but further work to implement the design will be contingent upon further funding being allocated in future budgets.

We will keep you up-to-date as the competition stages progress. In the meantime, you can join in the conversation by visiting our Forum thread for the site, or by leaving a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  urbanMetrics inc., Waterfront Toronto