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green infrastructure

From stormwater management to flood protection, Waterfront Toronto is creating next-generation infrastructure that adds value by future-proofing the city while optimizing form and function to serve multiple uses.

Stormwater Management


The huge volume of stormwater that enters Toronto’s sewers during heavy storms often temporarily exceeds the sewer capacity causing them to overflow. This can have a devastating effect on lake and stream water quality, as the runoff picks up and then deposits pollutants including heavy metals, organic chemicals, bacteria and phosphorus.


Being able to effectively manage and treat stormwater – created by rain and melting snow – is critical to safely guide runoff, prevent flooding and ensure pollutants in the water are removed prior to being discharged into Lake Ontario. Waterfront Toronto is constructing an extensive and integrated stormwater management system that will manage stormwater for the East BayfrontWest Don Lands, and Keating Channel communities.   


constructing a comprehensive stormwater management network


In 2013, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto initiated an addendum to expand the treatment capacity of the West Don Lands stormwater facility to accept flows from the East Bayfront and the Keating Channel precinct, update the treatment process and phasing of the implementation. The original strategies were limited to dedicated precinct infrastructure. 


This revision required amending the related Environmental Assessments. The amendments were completed and the Storm Water Quality Facility (SWQF) system is currently being redesigned to increase the capacity. Construction of the facility is slated to start in 2015 with completion in late 2016.


west don lands

The West Don Lands and Keating Channel precinct are located within the floodplain of the Don River and flood mitigation and stormwater management are critical issues that needed to be addressed. The West Don Lands also lacks appropriate stormwater infrastructure to support the influx of new residents that redevelopment will bring, and construction of the area’s flood protection landform has rerouted stormwater flows away from the Don River, which previously received the bulk of the area’s stormwater.


The new system for the West Don Lands will be the first of its kind in Canada, featuring a state of the art design that uses selected technologies in a multi-step treatment system. The system consists of a treatment facility, an oil grit separator, a series of strategically located underground shafts and tunnels, and a discharge outfall at the Keating Channel.


The system was planned to maximize the extremely tight footprint of the site and reduce the need for above ground space for the equipment, as well as to minimize the environmental effects and associated soil remediation required by an alternative method of construction.


The tunnel portion of the system was constructed by boring through bedrock deep beneath the soil, which minimizes intrusion in the area. Unlike traditional systems that fill in the shaft following construction, the West Don Lands system will reuse the tunnel construction shaft, built to launch the tunnel boring machine as a storage facility to decrease flows to the stormwater treatment facility. This unique approach reduced the overall size of the system, thereby reducing both the cost to construct it and maintain it.


treatment process


Stormwater runoff is collected and conveyed to a hydro dynamic oil grit separator, which removes sediment, screens debris and separates oil from the stormwater. From there, stormwater is conveyed to a storage chamber for the second stage of treatment, which removes any fine suspended solids not captured by the oil separator using ballasted flocculation - a process that introduces a substance that binds the materials together to make it heavier. The weighted material then sinks to the bottom of the chamber where it is isolated from the clarified water.

The treated water is then conveyed to the third and final stage where it is treated using ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. Following UV disinfection, the treated water is discharged into Lake Ontario at the Keating Channel.


treatment plant


The treatment facility that is being built at the northeast corner of Lake Shore Boulevard and Cherry Street will be a landmark structure for the West Don Lands. The architecture team, gh3, designed a simple and elegant building that will be embellished by etchings on its surface that act as a system of rain channels running from roof to the walls, and down through the shaft.


The building will feature glazed openings set within the façade that will reveal glimpses of the building’s inner workings and become glowing features at night. Interior and exterior LED lighting will register information about the building’s performance to reveal the inner workings of this critical piece of civil infrastructure. 


award winning design


The building’s design was honoured with a 2011 Award of Excellence by Canadian Architect magazine. One of only two national award programs devoted exclusively to architecture, the Awards of Excellence have recognized significant building projects in Canada annually since 1968.


West Don Lands stormwater management system quick facts

Location: Treatment plant and main shaft located at 480 Lake Shore Boulevard East

Design Team: R.V. Anderson Associates LimitedConestoga-Rovers & Associates, and gh3

Construction Team: Eastern Construction Co. Ltd.

Treatment plant size: housed in a 279-square-metre (3,000 square foot) building.

Tunnel and shafts:

  • The main shaft is 25 metres (82 feet) deep and can store approximately 3,000 cubic metres (106,000 cubic feet) of water.
  • The concrete-lined tunnel is three metres (10 feet) in diameter, 350 metres (1,150 feet) long, and 25-metres (82 feet) deep.
  • The tunnel was constructed deep in bedrock using a tunnel boring machine.
    Oil Grit Separator:
  • The structure is approximately 95 square metres (1,023 square feet) and 12 metres (39 feet) deep with twin treatment chambers and a total treatment capacity of 385 gallons of water per second (1.75 cubic metres per second)

Stormwater Management Image Gallery


East Bayfront


Waterfront Toronto is also constructing a stormwater management system in East Bayfront. This system is integrated into design of the area’s public art installations at Sherbourne Common. This integrated approach allows the required stormwater infrastructure to not only be functional and sustainable, but creates a beautiful, cost effective public amenity.


Sherbourne Common is the first park in Canada to integrate an ultraviolet (UV) facility for neighbourhood-wide stormwater treatment into its design. The facility is located in the basement of the park’s pavilion.


East Bayfront, like most of the 2,000 acre designated waterfront, was former industrial brownfield lands lacking the infrastructure necessary to support redevelopment of the lands into a mixed-use community. In 2006, Waterfront Toronto, in cooperation with the City of Toronto, completed a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) Master Plan to address water, sanitary servicing, stormwater management, and transportation needs for the East Bayfront Precinct Planning Area. 


Since then, the East Bayfront Class Environmental Assessment Master Plan has been amended twice to leverage new technology and operational efficiencies, resulting in a stormwater management solution that has evolved over time. In 2013, the EAs for both the WDL and EBF precincts were amended to expand the facility at 480 Lake Shore Blvd. East in the West Don Lands to accommodate flows for both areas.


The amendments were completed in 2013, and the West Don Lands Stormwater Management Facility is currently being redesigned to accommodate the increased capacity. Construction of the facility is schedule to start in early 2015 with completion in late 2016.


east bayfront stormwater attenuation shaft


A significant component of the East Bayfront system is the Stormwater Attenuation Shaft, which is part of a larger stormwater management strategy for the area. The purpose of the Stormwater Attenuation Shaft (SAS), as the name suggests, is to attenuate stormwater flow for the entire East Bayfront Precinct to more effectively and efficiently manage stormwater for the area. Currently, stormwater flows for East Bayfront simply discharge into the lake, untreated.


The system is comprised of a series of sewers that collect and direct stormwater flows from development and roads within the EBF precinct. The collected stormwater undergoes initial treatment at one of three Oil Grit Separators (OGS) located within the EBF precinct. The OGS treated flows then move to the SAS where they are attenuated and sent to the second stage of treatment at the Stormwater Management Facility located in the West Don Lands precinct at 480 Lake Shore Blvd. East, where they are treated using a ballasted flocculation process. Following this process, a portion of the combined flows then return to East Bayfront where they will undergo a third and final treatment at the Sherbourne Common UV Treatment Facility.


East Bayfront Stormwater Attenuation Shaft (SAS) quick facts

Location: located south of Queens Quay west of Parliament below the future Merchant’s Wharf road allowance, at the southwest corner of the Bayside lands.


Design Team: 


  • Bayside Linear –West 8+DTAH (lead), MMM Group civil
  • Bayside Shaft - West 8+DTAH (lead), RV Anderson civil
  • Bayside External Linear – WSP Group
  • Stormwater Management Facility at 480 Lake Shore Blvd East – RV Anderson


Construction Team:


  • Bayside Linear – PCL Constructors Canada (CM), Fourwinds Construction Inc.
  • Bayside Shaft - PCL Constructors Canada (CM), Technicore and W.A. Stephenson Mechanical
  • Bayside External Linear – PCL Constructors Canada (CM )
  • Stormwater Management Facility at 480 Lake Shore Blvd East – PCL Constructors Canada (Construction Manager)


Size:  The SAS interior dimensions are 12m in diameter and 20m tall.  The walls are 0.5m thick and the shaft sits 2.0m below the finished road elevation.  There are 2 inlet pipes 900mm and 600mm in diameter and a temporary 1.2m diameter outlet pipe to the lake that will be retrofitted in the future to receive the stormwater flows from the western half of East Bayfront.


Related Documents:



Flood Protection


flood protecting the West Don Lands


The West Don Lands area is a brownfield site in the flood plain of the Don River. Before any revitalization and development could occur, the area required remediation and flood mitigation.


In 2002, Waterfront Toronto and Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) partnered to undertake the Lower Don River West Remedial Flood Protection Project, a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) to address the risk due to flooding in the West Don Lands (WDL). By October 2005, a preferred alternative had been selected and approved. The overall solution included two major components:


  • Construction of a large berm, or Flood Protection Landform (FPL), to provide a physical barrier to prevent floodwaters from flowing westward into downtown Toronto from the Don River, and  
  • Widening of the Kingston Subdivision Bridge over the Don River, just north of Lake Shore Boulevard. The widening of the elevated railway bridge was completed in October 2007 by TRCA and Waterfront Toronto. The bridge widening accommodates floodwaters which would have gone westward through the WDL and was required to ensure that no off-site flood impacts would result from the construction of the FPL. 


These two flood protection components, when combined, provide a comprehensive solution to eliminate the risk due to flooding to 210-hectares of land west of the Don River, including the 32 hectares (80 acres) that make up the WDL.


flood protection landform


In 2007, the Ontario Realty Corporation - since merged with Infrastructure Ontario - began work on behalf of Waterfront Toronto to construct the massive flood protection landform (FPL). The 8-hectare FPL removed the flood risk to 210 hectares (519 acres) of Toronto’s downtown east end, and a portion of Toronto’s financial district.


Located along the Don River from the rail corridor to King Street, the massive landform was constructed from clean soil taken from construction sites within the Greater Toronto Area. Approximately 400,000 cubic metres of fill was used to construct the low-lying landform, which is equivalent to about 40,000 dump truck loads.


The landform provides the necessary flood protection for the new West Don Lands community, permitting the removal of the flood-plain designation and allowing the land to be rezoned for residential development.


To maximize the utility of this critical piece of infrastructure, the FPL was engineered to allow a large park space to be incorporated within its design. At 7.3 hectares, Corktown Common covers most of the FPL, with the eastern - or wet side - connecting to the city’s trail system at the Bala Underpass, completed as part of the Lower Don River West Remedial Flood Protection Project.


Corktown Common is a key component of the revitalization of the WDL and has helped demonstrate the area’s potential to private sector investors, developers and potential residents. By building the park on top of the flood protection landform and designing it to take full advantage of the site’s unique topography, Corktown Common has leveraged essential public infrastructure to deliver a magnificent public amenity.


flood protecting the Port Lands: renaturalizing the mouth of the Don River


The Port Lands is a 356 hectare (880 acre) area in Toronto’s east end that presents an unprecedented opportunity for waterfront revitalization. 


Situated on what was once the largest and most biodiverse freshwater wetland in North America, the massive area was gradually filled in to make more land available for industry and shipping. Today, much of the area is in the flood plain of the Don River and flood protection must be completed before this underutilized area can be fully developed.


Renaturalization of the mouth of the Don River is a magnificent city building project that will transform the existing mouth of the Don River into a healthier, more naturalized outlet and deliver critical infrastructure. This complex project will remove the risk of flooding to 240 hectares (593 acres) of urban land to the east and south of the river enabling development of the surrounding area.


The Don Mouth Naturalization and Flood Protection Project (DMNP EA) is the Environmental Assessment that will allow this project to proceed.  Led by Toronto Region Conservation, in partnership with Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto, the DMNP is currently awaiting approval from the Ontario Ministry of Environment.


Additional information on Port Lands redevelopment, including public consultation reports is available on the Port Land Consultation website.


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