Harbourfront is a neighbourhood on the northern shore of Lake Ontario within the downtown core of the city of Toronto, Canada. Harbourfront extends west from Yonge Street to Bathurst Street along Queen's Quay. East of Yonge to Parliament St. along Queen's Quay, this mostly industrialized stretch is slated for the future East Bayfront development.
Toronto's harbour has been used since the founding of Toronto for shipping and industrial purposes. The Town of York was founded to the west of the Don River, along the waterfront. When the town was founded, the water's edge was approximately where today's 'Front Street' is located. Over time, the area south of Front Street to today's water's edge south of 'Queen's Quay' was filled in with landfill, creating piers and area for industrial development.
Prior to the 1972 federal election, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau announced the Harbourfront project, which would expropriate the industrial port lands from York Street west to Bathurst Street, south of Queen's Quay and convert them to a cultural and residential district for Toronto, similar to the Granville Island district in Vancouver. The federal government has converted the industrial area to an area mixed with art galleries, performance spaces, boating areas and parks. The surrounding neighbourhood, formerly industrial has been converted by private land developers into a series of condominium towers overlooking the project and Lake Ontario.
Harbourfront Centre, housing galleries and performance spaces is located at the foot of Lower Simcoe Street. Harbourfront houses four craft studios; ceramics, glass, metal and textiles. All studios began in 1974 and still operate, providing new craft artists with subsidized work spaces at the beginning of their careers. Harbourfront hosts an extensive program of arts and cultural events throughout each summer, including craft and artisan fairs, theatre and dance performances and musical concerts. A series of free concerts is staged at Harbourfront's outdoor concert stage every weekend throughout the summer and in winter there is a free open-air ice rink.
Queen's Quay Terminal, next to Harbourfront Centre, is a former warehouse converted into a mixed-use building including a shopping centre designed for high-end retailers, commercial office space, and a residential condominium development. Today, the mall houses some stores and restaurants, predominantly catering to tourists.
The Canada Malting Silos along the waterfront at the western edge of Harbourfront, are one of the last vestiges of the industrial past of the neighbourhood. The buildings, long ago abandoned by the company that built them, but a proposal for demolition was cancelled when the estimated cost for demolition rose into the millions of dollars. The site is also now considered a heritage site, and any development must conserve some aspect of the industrial past. Two proposals have been made, a Canadian music museum and a Toronto history museum have both been proposed for the site. Both proposals keep the silos, but demolish other buildings on the site.
To the south of the Silos, Toronto Ireland Park was inaugurated in 2004. The site has memorials to an 1878 exodus of Irish persons to Toronto.
To the east of Yonge, at the foot of Jarvis Street is the Redpath Sugar Refinery, which is both an active sugar refinery and a sugar production museum.
The area is accessible from the Spadina, Yonge/Bay and Jarvis street off-ramps of the Gardiner Expressway.
The Toronto Island Airport is another neighbourhood issue. The airport, located to the south-west of the neighbourhood, is opposed by local community groups and some city politicians, including Toronto's mayor, as an impediment to the waterfront lands redevelopment. The airport, built in the 1930s, is utilized for regional air travel. The airport generates hundreds of noise complaints monthly to its operator, the Toronto Port Authority. The Toronto Port Authority confirmed on September 12, 2008, that Porter Airlines was fined for breaking noise curfews in its operations at the Island Airport. A study by the Port Authority is being conducted into reducing noise from Porter's takeoffs and landings.
Queen's Quay is currently a four-lane thoroughfare with a separate right-of-way for Toronto's streetcars. A development plan is proposed to modify the street further to provide a central section of the Martin Goodman Trail, a cyclist and recreational pathway along the waterfront.
The area to the east of Yonge Street, predominately still industrial, is slated for redevelopment as part of Waterfront Toronto's plans to create a residential and commercial district. Corus Entertainment will move their television studios to a site along the water. Low-rise apartment buildings and parklands are also slated for the area.