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port lands

Toronto has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform an underused resource in the heart of downtown. The Port Lands will be home to sustainable new communities that deliver affordable housing and job opportunities, along with renewed connections to the water and natural environment.

The Port Lands is a 356 hectare (880-acre) district bounded by the Keating Channel/Don River and Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, the Toronto Inner Harbour in the west, Ashbridges Bay in the east and Lake Ontario and Tommy Thompson Park in the south. This extensive, underutilized area presents an unprecedented opportunity for waterfront revitalization. Much of the Port Lands is publicly owned and is within a 30 minute walk of downtown Toronto. The southern portion of the Port Lands is bordered by Lake Ontario and much of it is used formally and informally as recreational space.

 

The Port Lands are man-made and were created by decades of infilling what was once one of the largest wetlands on Lake Ontario. Beginning in the 1880s, the area was gradually filled in to make more land available for industry and shipping. Since it was created, most of the Port Lands have been utilized for port and industrial uses, and the majority of the area currently lacks servicing for other uses. About 290 hectares (715 acres) of the area is also in the flood plain of the Don River and flood protection must be created before the area can be fully developed.

 

Given the size and numerous challenges with the area, revitalization of the Port Lands is a long term initiative.

 

public consultation

 

Public consultation is an important component of planning the Port Lands. Throughout the development of the Planning Framework and the Transportation and Servicing Master Plan, Waterfront Toronto worked with the City of Toronto to conduct the same robust consultation process that was established during the original Port Lands Acceleration Initiative. This includes a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) and Land Owners and Users Advisory (LUAC) providing input and guidance on the development of the Planning Framework at key points during the project, as well as consultation with the broader public. Find the consultation process summary report here.
 

Extensive consultation was also undertaken during the Don Mouth and Port Lands Flood Protection Project Environmental Assessment (DMNP EA). On December 17, 2010, TRCA and Waterfront Toronto submitted the Final DMNP EA for public, agency and stakeholder review and approval as required under section 6.2(1) of the Environmental Assessment Act and according to the Terms of Reference approved by the Minister of the Environment on August 17, 2006. Find the consultation record here.

 

mouth of the don river and port lands flood protection

 

The Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project will create a new river outlet to Lake Ontario, continuous riverfront open space and expanded opportunities for interaction with the water. It will also enhance habitat for natural species and will re-establish wetlands in the area, which provide social and environmental benefits and naturally moderate the effects of flooding and erosion. In 2017, Waterfront Toronto received $1.25 billion in tri-government funding to deliver this project. Find out more about the new river here.
 

 

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improving the area

 

A number of initiatives have taken place to make the Port Lands more people friendly and to ensure the area is utilized prior to full-scale development.

 

We have landscaped and enhanced key streets and intersections, and added cycling trails as part of a greening of the area.

 

Recreational facilities have also been improved. In 2004, Waterfront Toronto completed landscape improvements and restoration of Cherry Beach, one of Toronto’s most popular beaches located along southern shore of Lake Ontario in the western end of the Port Lands. And, the Cherry Beach Sports Fields were opened in 2008, including two premier regulation-sized soccer and lacrosse fields. 

 

An exciting future initiative will be the development of Lake Ontario Park. It will transform the southern portion of the Port Lands into part of a massive new park. Encompassing 375 hectares (927 acres) and 37 kilometres of shoreline, Lake Ontario Park will be Canada’s next great urban park. It will encompass numerous ecologically unique and distinctive landscapes, from the spectacular wetlands that define Tommy Thompson Park, to the cathedral stand of cottonwoods that frames Cherry Beach. Lake Ontario Park will be a world renowned urban wilderness and recreational park that will truly define our relationship with the water’s edge.

 

planning for the area

 

Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority continue to work together to revitalize the Port Lands. Toronto City Council adopted the Port Lands Planning Framework in 2017. It provides the foundations for updating and refining, as appropriate, the vision in the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan for the Port Lands, and established the planning context for guiding development in this key redevelopment area of the city. The Port Lands Planning Framework incorporates the work completed for revitalizing the Lower Don Lands and flood protecting the Port Lands endorsed by City Council in 2010, as revised through the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative in October 2012, and as per the completed Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project and Lower Don Lands Infrastructure Master Plan Environmental Assessments. It will also incorporate outcomes of precinct planning recently completed for Villiers Island.


For more details on planning the Port Lands, including the extensive public consultation it involved, visit PortLandsConsultation.ca

quick facts

Size: 356 hectare (880-acre)

 

Location: Keating Channel/Don River and Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, the Toronto Inner Harbour in the west, Ashbridges Bay in the east and Lake Ontario and Tommy Thompson Park in the south.

 

Proximity: much of it is within a 30 minute walk of downtown Toronto.

 

History: Man-made area created by infilling what was once one of the largest wetlands on Lake Ontario. Beginning in the 1880s, the area was gradually filled in to make more land available for industry and shipping.

 

Currently, 290 hectares of southeastern downtown – including parts of the Port Lands, South Riverdale, Leslieville, and the East Harbour development site – are at risk of flooding from the Don River and can’t be revitalized until they are flood protected. The Port Lands flood protection project will protect these lands, allowing them to be redeveloped. It involves building a new river valley though the Port Lands, which will create Villiers Island, and re-naturalizing the mouth of the river.

 

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