Waterfront Toronto's Design Review Panel: A Case for Clear Indicators
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Toronto’s waterfront is undergoing a large-scale redevelopment effort led by the arm's length public corporation Waterfront Toronto. Since 2005, Waterfront Toronto has operated a design review panel as a discretionary planning implementation tool. Case studies of design review in Canada and abroad have shown that design review can be an effective tool to improve design quality, but some development actors maintain the process faces challenges of clarity, consistency, and justification. These challenges and the recent demands from politicians to increase transparency of Waterfront Toronto’s decision-making helped form the overarching research question of this study: How can Waterfront Toronto’s design review panel (WDRP) advice become more transparent? Primary and secondary sources were used throughout this research project to provide a descriptive account of the level of WDRP transparency. I found that generally, but with some notable exceptions, the panel does operate transparently. Means for improving the process through monitoring and evaluation are theoretically feasible, but the realities of resource allocation are likely to be a constraint and therefore only incremental, informal monitoring may continue.