A 2016 announcement of $65 million in infrastructure funding from the provincial and federal governments for Waterfront Toronto's Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling project marked an important step forward for Toronto's Port Lands. The once thriving industrial district was hit by a decrease in Great Lakes shipping over the last third of the 20th century, and a subsequent movement to reclaim under-utilized land for urban uses has made the area a target for reuse and better connections to the surrounding city. Before that can happen, a $1.25 billion Flood Protection project must be carried out.

Cherry Street Stormwater Lakefilling, Port Lands, Essroc Quay, TorontoThe first shipment of core stone is deposited in the Inner Harbour, image via CNW Group/Waterfront Toronto

Years of studies have brought us to a point where the first major earthworks are finally underway. Work commenced today on the Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling project, with the first shipment of stone now being deposited into the inner harbour at Essroc Quay. The milestone was celebrated at an event attended by Julie Dabrusin, MP for Toronto–Danforth, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau (on behalf of Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli); Toronto Mayor John Tory; CEO of Waterfront Toronto, Will Fleissig; and Chief of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation, Stacey R. Laforme.

"The start of construction in Toronto's Port Lands marks an important milestone in the City's vision for a vibrant, clean Toronto waterfront," reads a statement issued by Mayor John Tory. "This is the beginning of unlocking the potential of our underutilized waterfront lands, protecting the area from flooding, and supporting new places to live, work, and play in Toronto." 

The project will stabilize the local shoreline, protect land from flooding, and create a new landmass to begin the re-naturalization of the Don River's mouth. The area being filled will become part of 'Promontory Park', a new major green space across the harbour from Toronto's skyline, and will also allow for a realignment of Cherry Street, revising the local road network to foster economic development in the area in the future.

Cherry Street Stormwater Lakefilling, Port Lands, Essroc Quay, TorontoDon Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project, image via TRCA

"We know infrastructure is about more than buildings and roads," said Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau, speaking on behalf of Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli. "It's about improving lives and creating opportunities for the people of Ontario. This project will lead, over time, to increased access to the waterfront and successful new communities where families can thrive and businesses can grow and create new jobs." 

We will keep you updated as more information about the Essroc Quay Lake Filling and Naturalization Project becomes available, and as the Lower Don Lands Redevelopment continues to take shape. In the meantime, additional information about the area's redevelopment is available in our database file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about today's announcement? Leave a comment in the space below, or add your voice to the ongoing discussion in our associated Forum thread.