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Leading developer Julie Di Lorenzo resigns from Waterfront Toronto board ahead of key vote on Sidewalk Toronto

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Highly-respected real-estate developer Julie Di Lorenzo stepped down from her board role at Waterfront Toronto Monday evening, effectively abstaining from a key vote on the Quayside development partnership between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs.   

Helen Burstyn, board chair, announced Di Lorenzo’s resignation at a Waterfront Toronto board meeting Tuesday morning.

The remaining members of the board held a vote Tuesday morning, where they agreed to a new Plan Development Agreement with Sidewalk Labs that will supersede the initial framework agreement. The vote passed unanimously. Both documents are expected to be released Tuesday afternoon.

Multiple sources told The Logic that Di Lorenzo had been displeased for months by how Waterfront Toronto leadership had been handling the process with Sidewalk Labs.

Burstyn confirmed this in an interview, saying, “I think she was uncomfortable with the nature of the agreement to begin with or the nature of the people with whom we’re negotiating with.”

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Talking Point

Julie Di Lorenzo, the highly-respected real-estate developer who has served on the boards of seven organizations, has stepped down from her board role at Waterfront Toronto.

With Di Lorenzo—and her experience with major development projects—absent, Waterfront Toronto signed a new Plan Development Agreement with Sidewalk Labs.

“I’m looking forward to working as a citizen city-builder outside the board to advocate for the interests of the city, the country and its residents,” said Di Lorenzo in a statement on her resignation provided to The Wall Street Journal.

Her resignation comes on the heels of another high-profile departure first reported by The Logic: John Ruffolo, head of OMERS Ventures. Ruffolo resigned from the volunteer panel established to advise Waterfront Toronto on digital strategy related to the Sidewalk Toronto project.

Di Lorenzo was the chair of the Investment and Real Estate Committee for Waterfront Toronto when the framework agreement with Sidewalk Labs was presented to the board for a vote on Oct. 16, 2017.  She was the only board member to vote against the agreement.

According to recorded minutes from that meeting, Di Lorenzo noted that the committee had only had four business days to review the agreement, and that she had been unable to complete her due diligence on the transaction or support a resolution to approve the agreement.

The following day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, then Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory stood side-by-side with Waterfront Toronto’s then CEO Will Fleissig and Sidewalk Labs’ Dan Doctoroff to announce the agreement.

As president of the Diamante Urban Corporation, Di Lorenzo is considered a leading and highly-respected figure in the community. She has served on seven boards, including the boards of the Greater Toronto Home Builders-BILD—where she was also president—Harbourfront Centre, The Next 36, The York School and Havergal College. She spent nine years on the board at St. Michael’s Hospital and currently serves on their Foundation.

Di Lorenzo was appointed to the Waterfront Toronto board by the Ontario government in November 2015. Her term was set to end this November.

Waterfront Toronto—whose agreement with Sidewalk Labs stems from a Request for Proposals put out in March 2017—was created in 2001 with support from the City of Toronto, the Ontario government and the federal government. Their 25-year mandate tasks the organization with the renewal of 2,000 acres of land on the city’s waterfront into mixed-use communities and public spaces.

 

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