East of downtown Toronto, plans for the 10 million square foot site of the former Unilever soap factory took a major step forward in late June, as Toronto City Council approved the rezoning plan for First Gulf’s ‘East Harbour’ site. First floated in 2012, the plan to redevelop the former industrial site has gained significant traction in the intervening years, with the East Harbour site more recently billed as a potential Canadian home for Amazon’s HQ2.
According to planning firm Urban Strategies Inc.’s website, “the proposed plan includes roughly 10 million square feet of office space housing over 50,000 jobs; 1.7 million square feet of retail, culture, and entertainment spaces; roughly 8.5 acres of open space; and 5 different modes of public transit.”
First Gulf’s own website provides further context of the ambitious East Harbour plan. “Located on a 60-acre site directly east of Toronto’s downtown core, East Harbour is the largest commercial project currently planned in Canada. Once complete, this 12-million square foot, unique mix of office, retail, and institutional developments will employ more than 50,000 workers. With the population of the GTA estimated to reach 9.4-million by 2041, Toronto needs a major new employment node in order to maintain a competitive advantage in the global competition for talent. East Harbour will be a development catalyst for critical infrastructure projects in and around the area, and will transform a previously inaccessible site into a world-class centre for art, commerce, and healthy living,” the website reads.
While the recently approved rezoning plan represents a crucial step forward for the site, the project’s exact timeline has not yet been revealed, with further approvals required as the site plan and construction plan take shape.