Built to Weather the Storm: The Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility

A rendering of a cyclist passing the new Cherry Street Stormwater Facility


By: Kaleigh Wisman

In order to create vibrant and sustainable places along Toronto’s waterfront, essential infrastructure is needed. Things like sewers and watermains may not sound exciting yet they set the ground (sometimes literally) for vibrant communities to take root.

One such initiative is the stormwater management system that we are building to serve current and future waterfront communities. This system, featuring the soon-to-be-completed Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility, is how we are tackling the urban challenge of managing stormwater runoff along the waterfront. In true Waterfront Toronto form, we are taking a holistic approach to this system, integrating projects where possible and incorporating innovation and world class design at every step of the way. 

The facility under construction

With beautiful design and state-of-the-art technology, the Cherry Street Stormwater Management facility will serve as an architectural landmark along Lake Shore Boulevard East.

Protecting the environment

Managing and treating stormwater–created by rain and melting snow- is critical to convey runoff, prevent flooding and to ensure pollutants are removed from the water prior to being discharged into Lake Ontario. Developed in line with Waterfront Toronto’s Resilience and Innovation Framework for Sustainability, this new stormwater management system will address the growing number of extreme weather events caused by our changing climate and alleviate the pressure on our current sewer system.

The stormwater management system will include the Cherry Street Sanitary Pumping Station (currently active), the Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility (operational by the end of 2020), the UV Treatment Facility beneath Sherbourne Common (currently operational) and an in-water pipe beneath a new segment of boardwalk along the Water’s Edge Promenade in East Bayfront (construction to be finished by the end of 2022).

The areas that this system will serve include East Bayfront, West Don Lands (including the Canary District) and the North Keating Community. 

Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility

Located at the northeast corner of Cherry Street and Lake Shore Boulevard East, the Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility will use state-of-the-art technology to receive and treat stormwater run-off created by rain and melting snow. In addition to exceeding the City’s Wet Weather Flow Management Guidelines for stormwater treatment, the facility will also meet Waterfront Toronto’s broader commitment to protecting and enhancing the natural environment. More can be learned about the facility’s three-step treatment process on the facility’s project page or in this blog.

The internal chamber of the stormwater treatment facility

When the Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility begins operating later this year, its twin treatment chambers will have capacity to treat 1,450 litres of water per second.

Beautiful Design and Groundbreaking Technology

Creating a stormwater management facility in a dense downtown urban setting requires ingenuity. While designing the 300-square-metre Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility, the prime consultant (R.V. Anderson Associates Limited) and their architecture subconsultant (gh3) had to address the challenges of the site while meeting Waterfront Toronto’s requirements for design excellence. Their approach was to design a simple and elegant building to contain the treatment process, that brings a modern interpretation to the ancient tradition of water infrastructure.

Although the facility is yet to be completed, it was honoured with a 2011 Award of Excellence by Canadian Architect magazine while the building was in its design stage. Read more about this recognition and the facility’s unique design here.

Pulling the pieces together

The north side of Sherbourne Common, the signature park in the East Bayfront neighbourhood and the 'Light Showers' art sculpture designed by Jill Anholt

Light Showers, a public art sculpture found in Sherbourne Common, will be the destination for 25% stormwater treated by this new integrated system.

As master-planners, we ensure that our work across the waterfront is well integrated and thoughtfully designed—this stormwater management system is no exception.

This is how the elements of the system will work together: 

Upon completion of the Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility in March 2021, treated stormwater will be conveyed to the Sherbourne Common Facility for additional treatment and use in the fountains and water features, before it is directed into Lake Ontario. 

In 2022, we will complete an in-water pipe (integrated with a new segment of public boardwalk).This in-water pipe will be located along the dock wall at the foot of Sherbourne Common and will move stormwater eastward for treatment at the Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility before flowing into the lake. You can read more about this upcoming project here.

By spring of 2022, the water treated by the facility will serve a rather artful purpose. Approximately 25% of the treated water will flow to Sherbourne Common where it will run through the water channel and be released through nine-metre-high public art sculptures called Light Showers by artist Jill Anholt.

With the completion of the Cherry Street Stormwater Management Facility in late 2020, the waterfront will be home to one of the most innovative urban stormwater management systems in Canada. Not to mention, the facility will be a beautiful addition to the waterfront’s growing collection of iconic, award-winning buildings.

A rendering of a bicyclist passing the new stormwater facility

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