The ten infrastructure projects for a more competitive Ontario

Ontario REALTORS® believe in the unlimited potential of this Province. That’s why we at the Ontario Real Estate Association want to shine a spotlight on big projects that will generate sustained prosperity for the most people.


This is a paper about future-shaping infrastructure

As we begin to emerge from the devastating effects of the global pandemic, we must focus on recovery and kickstarting resilient, long-term growth.

A robust economy leads to more take-home pay, which can put the Canadian dream of home ownership within more people’s reach. Home ownership fosters vibrant communities. These act as magnets for talent and investment, increasing economic output. Economic growth then allows us to pay for the types of infrastructure and public services that spur productivity, which in turn triggers entrepreneurship, business investment, job creation and higher incomes. And so on in a mutually reinforcing cycle.

OREA's Top 10

We’ve shortlisted ten projects to focus Ontarians on big thinking.

We asked KPMG Global Infrastructure Advisory to help us identify projects that fit this description. We worked with them to gather the facts and consult leading minds in commerce, industry and academia. We thought hard about the pandemic and what it means for new ways of working, regional supply chains and the extraordinary growth of e-commerce. Based on that research, we put together our Top 10 list.

These game-changing projects will boost the productivity of our human capital and increase Ontario’s ability to produce and ship value-added goods. They will open new routes and remove barriers to and from our largest trading partners. In short, they’ll help us compete.

We invite Ontarians to take our list as a starting point — and to engage us in an important dialogue about how we can use infrastructure to enhance Ontario’s competitiveness.

Greater Toronto Area

1A Pearson Area Transit Hub
2A New Bypass for GTA Freight Rail
3Extending the Yonge Subway into York Region
4An Eastern GTA Transit Hub


5.1The Ontario Line Subway
5.2Rapid Transit for Toronto’s Waterfront

Ottawa & Eastern Ontario

6Frequent and Reliable Rail Service between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal

Southwestern Ontario

7A New Freeway and 21st Century Border Infrastructure for the Niagara Peninsula

Northern Ontario

8A Strategic Transportation Link to Ontario’s Ring of Fire

Provincewide Opportunities

9Broadband to Address the Urban-Rural Digital Divide
10Ontario’s Clean Energy Potential

With KPMG’s support, we looked at a list of projects under a variety of infrastructure asset classes that are typically considered to have direct impacts on the economy. We then assessed the candidate projects against a selected set of criteria and determined our Top 10 list.

Greater Toronto Area

The GTA’s central economic challenge is grappling with its own success: how to keep people and products moving in the face of sustained, explosive growth.

An Eastern GTA Transit Hub

The number of transit projects in the region that are currently in the planning stages should be tied together with other modes of existing transit and transportation using a new multimodal Eastern GTA Transit Hub.

About this Project

Extending the Yonge Subway into York Region

This project will enhance north-south connectivity in the northern GTA, linking Union Station in downtown Toronto with Richmond Hill Centre in York Region.

About this Project

A New Bypass for GTA Freight Rail

A project long-known as “the Missing Link” would enable significant growth in passenger volumes by separating freight and passenger trains onto distinct railway tracks.

About this Project

A Pearson Area Transit Hub

A transit hub in the Pearson area would cut through the congestion by integrating several existing and planned transit lines into a new multimodal transportation anchor.

About this Project


It is home to nation-leading clusters in financial services, technology, culture, education, health care and sport. Toronto is the GTA’s anchor.

Rapid Transit for Toronto’s Waterfront

Unlock the Port Lands’ full economic potential by implementing flood protection and constructing a transit link with the existing downtown network.

About this Project

The Ontario Line Subway

A 16-kilometre long Ontario Line to create new north-south and east-west routes to and from the City’s Central Business District.

About this Project

Ottawa & Eastern Ontario

Eastern Ontario is the Province’s gateway to Quebec, Atlantic Canada and New England.

Frequent and Reliable Rail Service between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal

Creating new and dedicated tracks for passenger trains to support easy and efficient travel between the thriving economies.

About this Project

Southwestern Ontario

Ontario meets the United States in Southwestern Ontario.

A New Freeway and 21st Century Border Infrastructure for the Niagara Peninsula

Creating a new freeway as a supplemental transportation corridor to the Queen Elizabeth Way and twinning the Peace Bridge to alleviate the border bottleneck of goods and people.

About this Project

Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario’s rich and abundant natural resources built our province’s economic foundations and will continue to be a source of growth and prosperity for generations.

A Strategic Transportation Link to Ontario’s Ring of Fire

Construct a north-south roadway to the Ring of Fire to untap Canada’s largest known source of mineral wealth.

About this Project

Provincewide Opportunities

Kick-starting Ontario’s economic recovery through twenty-first century innovations.

Ontario’s Clean Energy Potential

Exploring clean energy solutions including renewable natural gas, charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, and hydrogen that will help strengthen Ontario’s role as an innovative leader.

About this Project

Broadband to Address the Urban-Rural Digital Divide

Continue the Province’s unwavering commitment to broadband infrastructure and seek further commitments from the Universal Broadband Fund and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

About this Project

Delivering these ten projects will be difficult, but their corresponding benefits will be transformational.

The pace of change across the global economy continues to accelerate. Yet our decisions on infrastructure projects still too often take decades. If progress isn’t made each year against all of the ten projects or focus areas highlighted above, then they will steadily become more expensive and logistically challenging. This will put Ontario at a competitive disadvantage.

The most successful infrastructure initiatives combine public-sector leadership with private-sector ingenuity. In some cases, this will require the Province to lead the end-to-end development of a project. In other cases, it will require Queen’s Park to advocate for a project — to the Government of Canada, to the United States, or to investors. In still other cases the provincial government will simply act as a facilitator, ensuring that red tape doesn’t stand in the way. Risk takers in the private sector will continue to place big bets on megaprojects, particularly in sectors like energy, telecommunications and power generation.

Of course, Ontario’s infrastructure needs go beyond the ten projects identified in this paper. The bigger our economy grows, the larger its infrastructure needs become. In an era of fiscal restraint and pandemic recovery, it’s even more important than usual to prioritize projects that will yield the most bang for the buck. To be an effective partner, government must provide opportunities for scale, improve clarity around the project pipeline, and be transparent about how projects are selected. Maintaining existing infrastructure is critically important, too.

We invite Ontarians to take our list as a starting point, and to engage in dialogue on how to use infrastructure investment to enhance Ontario’s future economic prosperity. Our infrastructure build has too often lagged our infrastructure need. OREA recognizes that any investment decisions should be based on the best available evidence and strongest value propositions. We encourage the development of robust business cases for these and other projects, recognizing also that some projects will require a long-term vision and benefits may not always be immediate or quantifiable with precision. Rather, infrastructure funding will require acknowledgement that our decisions today will influence the prosperity and shape of Ontario’s economy for many years to come.