researchers from social scientific, humanities and scientific disciplines,
project investigates Toronto's waterfront
during the past hundred years. The project uses the ideas of social
nature and political ecology to study the waterfront, a special place
where land and water meet, as an interactive space in which the social
and the natural are constantly remaking one another. That is, urban
waterfronts are always both social and natural and need to be studied
as such. The overarching question our research addresses is: How have
various, discourses and practices combined to produce and regulate
Toronto’s waterfront as a socio-economic and ecological space?
We approach this question by observing that during the last few decades,
policy makers, planners and developers have looked to waterfronts in
North American and European cities as sites for massive urban revitalization
projects that contribute to expanding the roles of metropolitan regions
and the formation of new urban hierarchies in a globalized economy.
The strategy for achieving our research objectives entails both
analytic and synthetic methods. The analytic aspects of the research
strategy are embodied in five research projects, based upon the themes
of waterfront governance, institutions, planning and landscape transformations,
that have been identified as constituent parts of the overarching
research question. Each of these research projects has a specific
methodology. As research proceeds on these projects, however, we
intend to engage in a synthetic and reflexive research process (monthly
colloquia) for building common understanding and greater insights.
The study contributes to scholarly work and professional
debates not only on Toronto’s future but also on other waterfront
cities in two novel ways: first, by examining waterfront development
a contested process in which new urban spaces and natures are simultaneously
produced; and second, by using a hundred year period as the basis
for our analysis and interpretation of societal and ecological transformations.