The major Toronto construction projects that will make headlines in 2023

There’s always some uncertainty about what the new year will bring, but Torontonians can expect at least one thing in 2023 — construction, and lots of it. 

Traffic levels experienced over the last few months will stick around for 2023, city says

Condo buildings keep popping up across the city, and that's expected to continue in 2023. (John Rieti/CBC)

There's always some uncertainty about what the new year will bring, but Torontonians can expect at least one thing in 2023: construction, and lots of it. 

From housing developments to road construction, there are hundreds of projects in the works across the city.

Here are a few major development projects you can expect to make headlines in 2023. 

The Well 

After years of anticipation, The Well, located on Front Street West and Spadina Avenue, will open its doors to the general public this year.

It's a 3.2-million-square foot development that occupies eight acres (3.2 hectares). There will be six residential condo buildings, 1.2 million square feet of office space and 350,000 square feet of residential use. 

The Well's shopping and entertainment area will be a four-tiered, open-air structure covered with a glass canopy. The area known as Wellington Market will feature fresh food markets and high-end restaurants. There will also be space for entertainment, such as concerts.

Jonathan Gitlin is president and CEO of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Dozens of foot-wide pedestrian street-style corridors, inspired by European architecture, will allow people to enter the area from different streets. 

"It feels intimate and it feels like it fits into the surroundings around it. I am biased, but I think we have done a really good job," said Jonathan Gitlin, president and CEO of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust. 

"I think it really will create a mark in Toronto that is going to be recognizable and known as a place to be for many years to come." 

Scaffolding against the walls of an open-air, four-level tunnel. In the picture viewer can see bridges connecting the left side of the tunnel to the right.
The Well is slated to open to the general public toward the end of 2023. This photo shows the four-tiered, open-air passage that will house restaurants, a market and food vendors. (CBC)

The development also sits on a two million gallon tank. Cold water from the bottom of Lake Ontario will run to and be stored in the tank. The water will be used to flow to all of the units in the development and also the entire downtown west district in order to heat and cool the community in a more environmentally friendly way. 

"Developers in Canada have a definite responsibility to be dynamic. To not just put up something that is going to be used for a few hours a day, it's something that can be used 24 hours a day," Gitlin said. 

A view of the Enwave Well, under construction. (Enwave Energy)

The Greater Golden Mile 

This will be a crucial year in the planning of a massive residential development project in Scarborough. 

The Greater Golden Mile is being hailed as the largest over the next decade, with 77 residential towers slated to house more than 50,000 people. 

It's a project that started decades ago, according to the United Way Greater Toronto, which is a co-lead of an initiative to enhance local economic opportunities in the Greater Golden Mile. The redevelopment is focused on three priorities identified by the community: deeply affordable housing, good jobs in the community and strong social supports close to home. 

"How do we ensure today that the GTA we are building and leaving for our kids and newcomers is inclusive for all? I think this is one example of how we are collaborating in ways that most people wouldn't even imagine for United Way to make these solutions as we go forward," said Daniele Zanotti, president and CEO of United Way Greater Toronto. 

Renderings of what 77 residential towers will look like along the Golden Mile in Scarborough. (Stephen Velasco of Future Model Toronto)

The redevelopment project is expected to create close to 20,000 jobs. Some of those jobs are targeted at local residents through a joint construction venture that is 49 per cent owned by Aecon Development and 51 per cent owned by the community.

Groups like RioCan, Enbridge and the Daniels Group have agreed to work with the joint venture to hire local residents as apprentices. These jobs, which include general labourers, electricians and hydrovac workers, will have a lifespan of about 20 years. 

As well as a major hiring campaign, developers will start doing preliminary studies and mapping this year before shovels hit the ground in 2024.

The United Way said it will be planning to make sure these residential units will be affordable for people in the area for years to come. 

"What is it going to take for somebody on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability to live in the Greater Golden Mile in 10 years?" Zanotti said.

"We better be having these discussions with people who live and work in that neighbourhood and have the strongest voice, often the voice that is unheard at these planning tables."

Metrolinx's Ontario Line 

Construction on the Ontario Line, a 15.6-kilometre subway line that will run from Exhibition Place to the Ontario Science Centre, will continue in 2023 on Queen Street.

Some businesses along the Queen West stretch are concerned about what construction will mean for their livelihood. 

Original, a women's clothing store on Queen Street West, is located directly above where the Ontario Line will run. Co-owner Simon Lugassy said Metrolinx has contacted him about buying the land underneath his business.

Simon Lugassy, co-owner of Original, a store on Queen West holds a colourful purse up to the camera while smiling largely.
Simon Lugassy shows off a purse at his store, Original, on Queen Street West. (CBC)

He wants to know what years of construction will mean for his 40-year-old business. 

"What kind of comfort is it when you have no understanding of what the future is going to be like?" Lugassy said.

He said he's watching what is happening to the businesses around Metrolinx's Eglinton Crosstown LRT project and other issues related to cost and the timeline around completion. 

Back in 2020, the doors of 140 businesses had to close as a result of construction in the area. 

"Look what [they've] done to the people that were there. Did [they] take care of them? No."

Lugassy said he's still trying to come back from the revenue loss the business took over the course of the pandemic. 

"We just went through a terrible, terrible time where we are lucky to be here, we are very lucky to be here. How much do you want to kick us, how hard do you want to kick us?" he said. 

(Submitted by Metrolinx)

There's no doubt about it, said former Ward 10 councillor Joe Mihevc, that the construction will be severely disruptive to businesses in the area. He said the closer one is to a subway station, the more disruptive it may be. 

"There is no hiding that truth, it is absolutely the best thing to confront that truth directly," Mihevc said. 

However, he's hoping the city, Metrolinx and businesses can come together to work on a plan that would limit disruption as much as possible. That could include making pedestrianization a priority and deploying people with business expertise to help store and restaurant owners with online businesses.

"It could be a moment of creativity and a different kind of entrepreneurship that could save a lot of businesses and make the pain be as minimal as possible," Mihevc said.

Mihevc said people have to keep in mind that this is a project that will transform moving around the city following its completion and is necessary to support Toronto's growth.

Metrolinx told CBC News that a more detailed scheduling plan will be determined in collaboration with the contractors awarded the project in November.

Traffic issues 

At the end of 2022 the City of Toronto had 147 major road restrictions in place, which the city admits has contributed to worse-than-usual traffic issues.

"I think it just indicates what a vibrant and growing city Toronto is right now with a massive amount of private development, condo construction and these major transit expansions, along with our own capital infrastructure construction projects," said Craig Cripps, a traffic co-ordinator with the city.

He said the reason the city is facing so many road closures is because of older infrastructure that won't accommodate dozens of emerging projects.

The traffic is not expected to get better, as a number of these projects — like Metrolinx's Ontario Line — will take years to complete.