Waterfront Toronto breaks ground on river valley of Port Lands Flood Protection Project

rendering of a person jogging along a waterfront trail

Flood protection essential to waterfront redevelopment and revitalization

Today in the Port Lands, Waterfront Toronto and all three orders of government took another important step for waterfront revitalization by breaking ground on a new river valley as part of the Port Lands Flood Protection project, one of the most ambitious construction projects in Toronto's history.

Waterfront Toronto’s Board Chair Helen Burstyn and Chief Project Officer David Kusturin joined Chief Stacey LaForme of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Phillippe Champagne, and Toronto Mayor John Tory for this milestone.

This winter, Waterfront Toronto will start excavation on a kilometre-long river valley, a natural spillway and new mouth for the Don River. Along with other critical infrastructure to protect the area against flooding, this work will create the foundation for a future island community on the waterfront. Once developed, Villiers Island will provide homes to thousands of people and economic opportunities to thousands more.

Flood protection in the Port Lands means that 290 hectares or more than one third of Toronto’s waterfront will be unlocked for revitalization. This next phase of waterfront revitalization will not only bring thousands of new residents and jobs, but will also provide more access to the waterfront for everyone and create a globally-significant destination where people can experience the natural wonder of the waterfront.

In June 2017, all three governments announced $1.25-billion in shared funding for Port Lands Flood Protection after Waterfront Toronto completed extensive study and consultations.

A third-party economic impact study conducted by urbanMetrics (2016) estimates Port Lands Flood Protection and future development in the Port Lands will generate approximately:

  • 51,900 full-time years of employment;
  • $5.1 billion in value added to the Canadian economy;
  • $1.9 billion in revenues to the three orders of government.


Media Contact:


Mira Shenker
Project Communications and Public Engagement
Waterfront Toronto




“Protecting the Port Lands from flooding means that Toronto is that much closer to having beautiful, sustainable and prosperous communities along the waterfront. This is a very exciting time for the city, and the Government of Canada is committed to working with our partners to build vibrant sustainable communities. We are now well on our way to building a new neighbourhood that will provide well-paying jobs and economic growth, and a great place to work, live and play.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities


"Today, the work begins on the river valley of one of the largest waterfront revitalization projects in the world and certainly one of the most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects in Toronto's history. The Port Lands Flood Protection project is a key Council priority and a long-term investment in our city's social, economic, environmental and ecological future. The project will unlock the potential of underutilized waterfront lands, protect the area from flooding and create new parks, natural areas, and neighbourhoods where people will live, work and play."

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto


“We are committed to investing in critical infrastructure projects, at the right time and in the right place. Today’s groundbreaking is a significant step in the right direction. Investing in and protecting the Port Lands means the creation of new jobs and a transformed waterfront community, making Ontario open for business again.”

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure


“Waterfront Toronto’s ambitions for the waterfront include social, economic, and environmental goals. Goals that lead to tangible benefits for Torontonians, Ontarians, and Canadians. We have a record of creating affordable housing, commercial space, aquatic habitat, critical infrastructure, and beloved public spaces on the waterfront. This project is a game changer, opening up an area roughly the size of Toronto’s downtown for new homes, workplaces, parks and more access to our waterfront’s natural wonder.”

Michael Nobrega, Acting CEO of Waterfront Toronto


Media Kit:


Artist renderings:

rendering of a winding river

The view looking east from Canoe Cove at Promontory Park
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rendering showing people using binoculars to look out at a river

The view looking east from Overlook at Don Greenway
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rendering of someone paddling down a river

View Looking East from Wetland at River Valley Park South
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a rendering of people along a river path in the fall

View Looking Northeast from Levee Trail at River Valley Park South
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rendering showing a river trail

View Looking South at River Valley Park South
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people with kayaks getting into a river

View Looking South from Cobble Beach at River Valley Park North 
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rendering of a person sitting and looking out at a river

View Looking South from Picnic Terrace at River Valley Park North 560
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Additional Images: 

aerial view and a concept rendering

Current view of project area and future vision
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aerial map showing a flooded area in blue

Area shown in blue is currently at risk of flooding from the Don River during a Regulatory Storm.
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Infographic showing the size comparison

Infographic: Port Lands Flood Protection will become one of the most intensive earth moving projects in recent history
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group photo of dignitaries with shovels at a groundbreaking event

From left: MP Adam Vaughan, Toronto Mayor John Tory, MP Julie Dabrusin, Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philippe Champagne and Waterfront Toronto Board Chair Helen Burstyn are surrounded by project partners and community members as they mark the start of excavation on the new river as part of Port Lands Flood Protection.
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dignitaries posing next to an excavator

Front row from left: Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher, Waterfront Toronto Board Chair Helen Burstyn, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philippe Champagne, MP Julie Dabrusin. Back row from left: Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation Chief Stacey LaForme, MP Adam Vaughan.
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Video: Construction progress at Cherry Street Lakefilling which started in January 2018


To learn more about how we’ll transform the Port Lands by 2024 visit the project website - https://portlandsto.ca/