Five-year plan for Toronto’s Central Business District

Tim Kocur

With its new public realm strategy released today, the Toronto Financial District BIA is improving the standards of all its public spaces including roads, sidewalks, parks and open areas. The most dense employment centre in Canada has never had a consistent planning approach and the report highlights a state of disrepair and operational congestion not befitting a world-class financial centre.

“The Financial District is Toronto’s public face to the world of business and an economic generator that all of Toronto and Canada benefit from,” says Grant Humes, Executive Director of the Toronto Financial District BIA. “When international businesses are looking to locate here, they want to see a sense of order. We now have an organized approach to improve the way we present ourselves, the way the area operates and the way people get around.”

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Partnering with City departments and property owners in the Financial District who were closely consulted with for over a year, Raising the Standard summarizes best practices to be implemented and a five-year roadmap to share costs and leverage developments and improvements already planned. A business case is made that investments in the Financial District pay significant returns in the additional jobs created when new businesses move there and larger towers are built. The 15 blocks of the Financial District make up less than one tenth of one percent of Toronto’s area and provides 6% of its property tax revenue.

“We can’t do this ourselves. We looked at what’s going to be built and we looked for ways to maximize benefit and minimize disruption by taking a completed work approach to planning,” says Humes. “If we tear up Adelaide Street to re-install water mains, let’s make sure we make as many improvements as possible at one time and end up with a street that looks better and moves people around more efficiently.”

Raising the Standard was developed in extensive consultations with City of Toronto Councillors and Staff, property owners and members of the public.


The Toronto Financial District BIA represents Toronto’s premier business centre, including Union Station, the PATH underground walkway and Canada’ s five major banks and most prominent firms. With a mandate to promote economic development in the area, initiatives include improving public spaces, showcasing the daily activity of our thriving businesses at and @MyTOFD, and identifying collaborative opportunities that ensure the Financial District and PATH are well-maintained, integrated, connected and accessible.