The week, Waterfront Toronto hosted a ground breaking ceremony to celebrate the start of the Port Lands Flood Protection Project, a $1.2 billion initiative as part of a long term plan to transform the industrial brownfield lands into a mixed use community with residential, office and parkland uses. As part of a multi-decade project, the current undertaking is to naturalize the mouth of the Don River to allow water to flow more naturally and efficiently into the inner Toronto Harbour. This will reduce the flood risk for 290 hectares of land in south-eastern Downtown and Leslieville that currently sits in a flood plane. Work like this has been done on a smaller scale at Corktown Common, which protects the post-industrialized West Don Lands and Distillery District neighbourhoods.

Current view of the project and future vision, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Although the ground breaking took place just this week, it was largely ceremonial. Work has been underway since the end of 2017, and the current stage of construction began in September. Crews can be seen in the video below doing lake-filling work for what will be the greened mouth of the Keating Channel (the river's current, industrialized mouth). 

Concurrent with the ceremony, Waterfront Toronto released a video prepared by contractor EllisDon, outlining the phases of construction through its intended 2023 completion date.

Work in 2018 has largely been focused on the excavation of the River Valley System in the centre of the Port Lands, and that will continue into the majority of 2019. The new year will also bring about the re-alignment of Cherry Street slightly west of its current location, and the construction of a new Cherry Street bridge which will connect the new island to the mainland. As the trench for the new river becomes deeper, a Commissioners Street bridge will also be constructed on the east side of the island to improve its east-west corridor.

Following in 2020, Commissioners Street will be reconstructed and the Hydro One infrastructure needed to support redevelopment of the area will be completed. In the following three years, a third more southerly bridge will be constructed for Cherry Street over the naturalized river, two parks will be completed, and the Keating Channel will be modified to promote water flow into the new extension of the river. The video below shows the construction staging process planned out for the next five years.

Several Government officials attended the ground breaking including Mayor John Tory and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philiipe Champagne. The project itself is estimated to bring $5.1 billion to the Canadian economy through the 51,900 years worth of employment time for construction workers. The project will also be revenue positive to the Government itself, contributing over $1.9 billion in revenue to all three levels.

Officials from all three levels of Government at the Groundbreaking Ceremony, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Once all of the infrastructure is set up, development can begin on what will be a very sustainable, green community. Villiers Island, named after a main street this northwestern portion of the Port Lands, will be a Climate Positive Community, meaning it will produce more energy than it uses, one of the first of its kind in Canada.

View of the curve of the newly naturalized Don River, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

We’ll provide regular updates as this massive construction project progresses over the next five years. To learn more about the project, check out our database file, linked below, where you'll find additional renderings, or the associated forum thread with construction photos and finer details about what's coming to the Port Lands.

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