Toespraak van Zijne Majesteit de Koning tijdens de 'Seminar on Urban Redevelopment, Evergreen Brickworks' in Toronto

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Ladies and gentlemen,   

It's great to be here in Toronto, one of Canada's most vibrant cities.

The thing that always strikes Dutch people about Canada is its enormous size. Even if you come here often, the sheer scale is overwhelming. To give you a comparison: the Netherlands is only twice the size of Lake Ontario.

On the other hand, our lack of space means we have a thousand years' experience of urban development and water management.

Toronto is a fascinating place for the Dutch, because your ambitions and challenges are very familiar to us. And that's why this seminar is so valuable. I see many parallels between us.

You're working on Toronto's urban dynamics. How do you keep the city a  lively, attractive place for young and old alike, and for all income groups?
You're working to strengthen the spatial relationship between the city and the water.
You're working on flood protection. With urban planning for a truly waterproof city.
And you're working towards a cleaner city. With sustainable solutions for waste processing, energy supplies and mobility.

These are all equally hot issues in the Netherlands.
Our country is actively addressing the effects of climate change. We feel that urgency at first hand. And we're seeking out other countries, all over the world, that face similar challenges.

You've already shared a wealth of knowledge and explored some common issues. As this morning's session made clear, water has a key role in urban development.

There's an important guiding principle that we can hold onto as we develop solutions. It's not a blueprint, but a source of inspiration: we need to see water in a different way. Not as an enemy, but as a potential ally.

The old style of water management - where the city turned its back on the water, hiding behind higher and higher dykes - simply doesn't work anymore.
So instead of going on the defensive, it makes more sense to welcome water and give it room to move. In the Netherlands we call that 'building with nature'.

As a result, water is now a priority in spatial planning. It has become a decisive factor, a source of new approaches and designs.
This philosophy can be put into practice in all kinds of ways, depending on the local situation.

At thirty sites in the Netherlands, for example, we are giving our major rivers more room. This will help prevent flooding and ensure that four million Dutch people can safely go on living by the water.
In cities like Rotterdam, we're experimenting with water plazas. When the sun's out you have a lovely city square where kids can run around. And when there's a downpour, the plaza floods with water and the kids can sail their toy boats.
Dikes and dams are being transformed into raised parks. And just like in Toronto, more and more Dutch buildings now have a green roof, which collects rainwater and helps reduce air pollution.

It also makes sense to work closely with Mother Nature as we work to improve water and soil quality. In the Netherlands we are using bacteria as a sewage treatment agent. And increasingly, sewage sludge is considered a precious resource, which can yield valuable minerals and biogas. These are examples, large and small, of building and innovating in harmony with nature.

It's immensely valuable for Canadian and Dutch partners to explore new opportunities. And Toronto is a showcase for such collaboration. The key feature of the Waterfront Toronto project is the way it enhances the natural relationship between the city and the water, highlighting the city's unique character much more clearly.

Toronto is embracing its water with open arms, as an element that adds value for its residents, businesses and visitors.

This is the biggest urban revitalisation project in North America - an enormous undertaking. It's good that the local, regional and federal authorities are working together closely. And that the city's residents and business leaders are giving their input too.

The Netherlands has a lot of expertise that could help you in this process. Together we can really move forward. In a moment you'll be using the results of this morning's workshops to explore specific connections and shared opportunities.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada has always been a very popular destination for Dutch immigrants. And when people move to Canada they don't regret their decision. The vast majority of Dutch new arrivals don't get homesick. They stay.

I think this has something to do with the 'can-do' mentality here, and the importance that Canadians attach to 'the good life'. It's a mind-set and an atmosphere you can clearly sense in Toronto.

I am convinced that a great future awaits this dynamic city. I hope you enjoy the challenge of making that future a reality and I wish you every success!

Thank you.