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villiers island

The Villiers Island Precinct is one of the premier redevelopment sites on the waterfront.

The Villiers Island precinct (formerly referred to as Cousins Quay) will be a stunning new waterfront community that embraces its distinct industrial functions and the spectacular new parks, public spaces and ecological richness that will result from the naturalization of the mouth of the Don River. Surrounded by water on all sides, the Villiers Island precinct will introduce a vitality to the area that honours the distinctive culture associated with waterfront districts and vibrant working ports.


Currently not an island, Villiers Island will be created when the new mouth of the Don River and flood protection features are built. It will be bound by the Keating Channel to the north, Toronto’s Inner Harbour to the west, Polson Slip to the south and the Don Roadway to the east. The island will be approximately 35.5 hectares (88 acres) in size, with a developable area of 22 hectares (54 acres). The remaining 13.5 hectares (34 acres) will be water’s edge parks and public spaces.


West of Cherry Street, the precinct includes both the Essroc and Cousins Quays. Essroc and Cousins Quays are landfilled piers that are entirely publicly owned, and are currently utilized by Essroc, Toronto Port Authority, and GFL Environmental. East of Cherry Street there is a mix of publicly and privately owned lands with continuing industrial uses, restaurants and sound studios.


With exceptional views of Toronto’s Inner Harbour and the city’s skyline, Villiers Island will form a gateway from the West Don Lands and East Bayfront neighbourhoods to the rest of the Port Lands. The island will evolve over the longer term, but in the initial development phases, the island will be transformed from a purely commercial/industrial area to one that invites people to the water to enjoy a diverse range of activities and spectacular new parks and public spaces. When redeveloped into a mixed-use area, Villiers Island will offer an unprecedented experience that celebrates its industrial heritage and provides a contemporary model for sustainable city building.

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planning the villiers island precinct


Waterfront Toronto, in collaboration with the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, is developing a precinct plan for Villiers Island Precinct. This planning exercise is one of four initiatives currently underway in Toronto’s Port Lands.


Precinct planning is important because it ensures that the area is planned in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner that takes into account the myriad of variables and constraints at play in the area. It ensures orderly development and helps to advance the guiding development principles for the area, established in consultation with stakeholders and the community, while also advancing the policies of the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan.


The precinct plan will establish design and development objectives, local street patterns, block structure, linkages between local parks and open spaces, and built form controls. The plan will also identify other mechanisms needed to ensure revitalization and high-quality development in the Villiers Island Precinct. The plan will also imbed strategies to ensure a complete community is established, including identifying locations for community services and facilities, public art, heritage conservation and celebration, active and passive transportation routes, affordable housing, office/retail and sustainable infrastructure.


The Villiers Island Precinct Plan will complement and be coordinated with the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project Environmental Assessment (DMNP EA), the Lower Don Lands Master Plan Environmental Assessment (LDL EA), and the Port Lands Planning Framework currently underway.


Villiers Island Precinct planning is being undertaken now because when the DMNP EA and LDL EA are complete it will be one of the first areas within the Port Lands to undergo redevelopment. Completing precinct planning now ensures that redevelopment can take place as soon as flood protection work and the renaturalization of the Don Mouth are complete.


guiding principles


Guiding Principles for the redevelopment of Villiers Island, established in consultation with community members and stakeholders:


  1. Animate and activate the water’s edges to provide a variety of memorable experiences along the river, harbour and channel edges
  2. Plan for a diversity of great open spaces and waterside parks to serve the local precinct community, city and region
  3. Provide for a catalytic opportunity– a facility, experience, use or activity – which reinforces the island as a regional and transformative destination
  4. Reinforce the Island as a key gateway and access point to the main Waterfront, Lower Don Lands and Port Lands districts
  5. Celebrate the area’s industrial heritage, character and legacy through appropriate conservation
  6. Prioritize transportation choices to, from and on the Island, by providing connected pedestrian and cycling networks and optimizing planned transit infrastructure
  7. Plan for a diverse, mixed use and inclusive community
  8. Provide a variety of building forms to create a comfortable and inviting public realm, and establish a distinct skyline
  9. Develop an innovative model for a sustainable urban community and demonstrate excellence in community design
  10. Ensure that the precinct plan is viable and implementable and maximizes place-making opportunities in the initial phases of redevelopment

consulting with the community


Public consultation is an important component of the development of the precinct plan. This includes consulting with the public through workshops, presentations, meetings and a dedicated consultation website to enable public involvement and input. It also includes obtaining advice and guidance from a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) and the Land Owners and Users Advisory Committee (LUAC) at key points during the project.


meeting materials


Community Consultation Meeting #1:



Recent Meetings and Material

November 18 , 2015
Public Workshop - Connecting the Port Lands and South of Eastern Areas

November 17 , 2015
Public Workshop - Placemaking in the Port Lands


November 14 , 2015
Port Lands Public Open House and Information Sessions

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project status

Approved Budget:

quick facts

Boundaries:  The Keating Channel to the north, Toronto’s Inner Harbour to the West, Polson Slip to the south and the Don Roadway to the east.

Size:  35.5 hectares (88 acres)

 22 hectares (54 acres) of developable area
13.5 (34 acres) of water’s edge parks and public spaces.

Proximity:  30 minute walk from downtown

Design Team:  Urban Strategies Inc. (precinct plan lead)

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