Transforming the long-neglected area into new urban communities connected to the natural environment will creating a new global model for sustainable city building.
The Lower Don Lands is Waterfront Toronto’s most complex and ambitious project to date. Planning for the area needed to address a myriad of requirements and challenges including flood protection, infrastructure, urban design and transportation, plus a comprehensive process was needed to produce a master vision to integrate the various components.
Waterfront Toronto launched an International Design Competition in February 2007 to produce a concept that would provide the unifying vision for merging the natural and urban fabric into a green, integrated and sustainable community and provide common ground for the numerous environmental assessments (EAs) required for the area. In May 2007, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. (MVVA) “Port Lands Estuary” was announced as the winning design.
Due to the complexity of the Lower Don Lands planning initiative the integrated planning process began with an Issues Identification Study to determine critical programs and phasing criteria. Study results were used to help the City of Toronto, TTC and Waterfront Toronto develop a Framework Planning Process to guide effective planning of the project. This process allows the team to work on the design of the site as a whole, and integrate the project’s numerous concurrent EAs, including the Don Mouth Naturalization and Flood Protection Project EA, the various transit EAs and the Master Servicing EA, with the design of the Precinct Plan for the Keating Channel neighbourhood.
In April 2008, Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto and Toronto Transit Commission, as tri-proponents, began a study to integrate the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) process with the Precinct Planning process that has resulted in a Master Plan for transportation (including transit), water/wastewater and storm water management in the Lower Don Lands.
Lower Don Lands planning documents went to Toronto City Council in summer 2010 and were unanimously approved.
As with all waterfront planning initiatives, public consultation has been and will continue to be a key component of Lower Don Lands planning. The planning process has included numerous stakeholders and public meetings as well as a number of workshop sessions.
In September 2007, Waterfront Toronto held the Don Greenway Workshop, to develop consensus on the functions and uses of the Don Greenway, consistent with the EA for the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection. Workshop results were incorporated into the terms of reference for preparing the framework plan by MVVA team. A draft report was circulated to participants following the event providing them an opportunity to review and comment on it.
An integrated public workshop – “Rise of the New Don” – was held in March 2008 to present the evaluation of alternatives and the selection of a preliminary preferred alternative to naturalize the Don Mouth. The session also included an update on how the results of the design competition would be integrated with the EAs.
Discover more about why plans for the Lower Don Lands are helping to set a new global standard for sustainable urban development.
Take a walk through the Lower Don Lands with renowned urban designer Ken Greenberg and hear plans for the transformation of the area.
Waterfront Toronto has held three public meetings for the Lower Don Lands EA process. Read the meeting reports: