From re-naturalizing the mouth of the Don River, to soil recycling, flood protection, improving Toronto’s urban forest, and restoring wetlands and wildlife habitats, Toronto’s waterfront will be an urban refuge and greener than ever.
Waterfront Toronto's integrated and holistic community building and urban planning model is creating smarter, healthier and more sustainable communities.
A key consideration for every Waterfront Toronto initiative is to do everything possible to ensure we contribute to creating a healthy environment. We also believe that proximity to nature, public greenspace, and pedestrian-friendly public spaces are all requirements for healthy urban living. To achieve our objectives, our approach to revitalization incorporates economic, social, cultural, and ecological sustainability criteria into all decision making. It will all add up to a lasting environmental legacy now and a revitalized waterfront that is the envy of the globe.
Waterfront Toronto is assigning a central role to parks, open spaces, bike paths, trails, trees and water. It’s dedicating 25 percent of the revitalized area to waterfront parks and public spaces, and planting about 34,000 trees.
Lake Ontario Park will be one of the most exceptional and distinctive landscapes in Toronto; a world class, 925-acre contiguous public park with over 37 km of shoreline extending from Cherry Beach to Ashbridges Bay, with connections to Toronto’s eastern beaches. Waterfront Toronto’s plans for the
park will see existing parks, beaches, former industrial sites and regionally significant ecological areas joined together to form this magnificent urban oasis.
Trees are a fundamental part of green infrastructure systems and provide a range of benefits. Not only do trees provide welcome shade, they also help clean the air and improve our environment.
The revitalized waterfront will feature trees in abundance – along streets, the water’s edge and in parks. Waterfront Toronto is working with leading tree experts and employing the latest technologies to ensure that planted trees mature and thrive.
Given our mandate, water is a central theme in all of our work. In addition to connecting people with the waterfront, we are striving to ensure that revitalization has a positive impact on water quality and conservation. Our plans and designs include water conservation measures, creative and more effective stormwater management systems, and the use of grey water recycling where appropriate.
As part of the Don River mouth restoration, we are building wetlands to replace those that were destroyed in the 19th century. Wetlands provide an array of social and environmental benefits. They support many species of wildlife, moderate the effects of flooding and erosion, and mitigate climate change through the storage of carbon dioxide.
Waterfront Toronto is an active member of Aquatic Habitat Toronto, a consensus based partnership that is working to improve the aquatic habitat in the City. Aquatic Habitat Toronto is responsible for the implementation of the Toronto Waterfront Aquatic Habitat Restoration Strategy. The aquatic habitat enhancement work being done is having a positive impact on the aquatic ecology, and it has won a Public Sector Quality Fair award.
Waterfront Toronto is employing grey water recycling practices in several projects in an effort to conserve potable (treated, drinking quality) water for the uses for which it is intended. Grey water will be used across the waterfront for “lesser” uses such as irrigation and in addition to directly supporting our water conservation objectives, grey water recycling also contributes to our energy conservation objectives by reducing the amount of energy required to maintain our parks and public spaces.
In the West Don Lands, 50 per cent of storm water will be recycled for irrigation uses and in Don River Park, 100 per cent of rainwater will be captured and used for irrigation. Along the Martin Goodman Trail at Ontario Place captured storm water from runoff is collected in a soil trench and used to irrigate trees. In addition to 100 per cent of the rainwater captured is being used for irrigation and toilets.
Sherbourne Common is the first park in Canada to integrate an ultraviolet (UV) facility for neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment into its design. The UV facility for East Bayfront’s stormwater management system is located in the basement of the Park’s Pavilion. Collected stormwater is treated in the UV facility; the clean water is then released back out to Lake Ontario.
The US television series profiles Toronto's waterfront revitalization.
One of the projects that will deliver significant environmental benefits to the City is the renaturalization of the mouth of the Don River. When complete, the newly restored river mouth will reconnect Toronto's Lower Don Lands, Port Lands and wider waterfront to green space in the Don River valley. The project will include the development of new parkland, wetland and marsh areas, and an expanded tree canopy in the area to provide a refuge for urban wildlife.
A primary objective of the renaturalization of the mouth of the Don River is flood protection which is necessary before any redevelopment can take place.
In addition to removing the risk of flood to the Port Lands and the Lower Don Lands the naturalized and flood protected river mouth will create a floodplain in which the river is restored to a similar state as it would have been in nature, allowing it to flow more naturally.
Restoration will also provide an ecologically functional river mouth, and provide opportunities to revitalize the Port Lands area. Restoring the
mouth of the Don River will remove the risk of flooding and will result in the Don River once again becoming a major feature of Toronto’s waterfront and the centerpiece of new mixed-use neighbourhoods, parks and green spaces in the Port Lands and Lower Don Lands.
In the West Don Lands, an 8-hectare flood protection landform has been built to provide necessary flood protection for a 99 hectare (245 acre) area including Toronto’s financial district. The flood prevention measures have permitted the removal of the flood-plain designation, allowing the land to be rezoned for development. The flood protection landform is also providing the foundation and unique topography for Don River Park, of one Waterfront Toronto’s signature waterfront parks.
Waterfront Toronto’s commitment to sustainability includes everything from the ground up and we are striving to raise the bar on brownfield remediation. Our soil management strategy considers soil a recyclable resource that needs to be managed in an effective and sustainable manner. Wherever possible, we plan to use the latest and best technologies to treat and reuse soil, rather than "digging and dumping", and transporting soils off-site to landfill. This will reduce the amount of soil going to landfill and by treating soil as a recyclable resource it will reduce the need to import aggregates from rural areas.
The use of recycled soil and other materials such as concrete for road base and drainage layers also provides a better match between available materials and their intended uses. For example, high quality soils can be preserved for uses such as parkland, while recycled concrete or similar materials can be used for less sensitive uses such as road base or bedding for utility lines.