Public Meeting - December 4


We held a live meeting on December 4 to learn more about the Port Lands Flood Protection project.

We’re three years into this seven-year project that will renaturalize the mouth of the Don River and create a new river valley through the Port Lands. When this project is complete, Toronto will have a new island, new parks and green spaces and new roads and bridges – the foundation for future communities just minutes from downtown.

At this meeting, we made the following three presentations:

  1. Overall project update from Waterfront Toronto, including construction updates.
  2. Final design update on the river valley and parks from Michael van Valkenburgh and Associates. Learn about programming and design features in Promontory Park and River Park and see how public feedback has shaped the final designs, some of which is already under construction.
  3. Design update for public realm improvements on Lake Shore Boulevard East from West8 and Entuitive. This includes modifications to the Lake Shore Bridge required for the Port Lands Flood Protection project as well as the reconstruction of Lake Shore Boulevard East as part of the City of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration (Gardiner East) project. We have been working with the City on a proposal to complete all required construction on Lake Shore Boulevard and the Lake Shore Bridge at once, reducing the duration and cost of construction and fast tracking the completion of critical east-west connections for cyclists and pedestrians. In June 2020, Toronto City Council gave approval for Waterfront Toronto to proceed with detailed design for public realm improvements along Lake Shore Boulevard between Don Roadway and Carlaw Avenue, including intersections at Don Roadway, Booth Street and Carlaw Avenue. This includes rebuilding the roadway, new sidewalks, bike facilities and landscaping. We are now presenting these designs.

These presentations were followed by a live Q&A with project team members.

Due to COVID-19, this meeting took place online using Microsoft Teams.  You can watch the presentation at your leisure on this page in the sections below. You can also watch a recording of the live Q & A here, and read the questions and answers here.

If you were unable to join the live meeting, the materials and recording of the Q&A are available on this page.  A summary of the meeting can be found here.

How to Participate

If you are unable to join the live meeting, the materials, presentations, and survey are available on this webpage. A recording of the Q&A is available below. A survey accompanied this meeting, and is now closed.

  • Be respectful. Waterfront Toronto is an inclusive public organization. Racist or other forms of discriminatory, prejudicial, or hateful comments and questions will not be tolerated.
  • Be brief and limit yourself to one question or comment at the time, there will be other opportunities to engage.

What if I did not get a chance to ask my question during the meeting?

 You can always send your comments and questions to us at [email protected] after the meeting. A member of the project team will contact you with answers to your questions.

Will the meeting be recorded? How can I have access to the recording?

Yes, the meeting was recorded. We post recordings of our public meetings on our Youtube channel.

How will Staff decide the order of participants who ask questions?

Questions will be answered in the order they were received. The moderator will read your question and may skip the ones that have already been answered.

Port Lands 101

The Port Lands Flood Protection Project is about taking action to protect Toronto’s southeastern downtown area. Right now, in an extreme weather event, floodwaters from the Don River would overwhelm portions of the Port Lands, South Riverdale and Leslieville. Our plan is to reconnect the Don River to Lake Ontario by creating a naturalized river mouth. To do this we are embarking on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Toronto’s history.

Watch this video for an overview of this project that was presented at a community consultation in February 2018:

Watch this video to learn more about what we’re building:

  • Click here to see an interactive map of what we’re building
  • Click here to learn more about ongoing construction

It’s been 15 years since the Port Lands Flood Protection project officially began, with an Environmental Assessment (EA) to study how best to restore the natural mouth of the Don River. But that’s just a blip in the life of this 38-kilometre river. Going back as far as 7,000 years, this river was a gathering place for Indigenous peoples, and a source of food and water.

Two hundred years ago the area we now call the Port Lands was one of the largest freshwater marshes on Lake Ontario and home to many different species of wildlife. Ashbridges Bay Marsh, named after the Bay bordering its west side, was created by the lower Don River as it emptied into Toronto’s inner harbour.

Starting in the 1870s, human-made interventions to the shoreline and marsh began with the construction of a series of breakwaters. The Keating Channel was built along the northern edge of the marsh in the late 1890s, and by the early 1900s, the marsh was filled in.

In the 1950s, the Leslie Spit, Hearn Generating Station and Commissioners Incinerator were built in the Port Lands and the Gardiner Expressway was built over the mouth of the Don River.

By the 1970s, the area became home primarily to civic and city-serving uses such as salt storage, as well as light industrial uses including a healthy film industry. Despite these ongoing industrial uses, much of the Port Lands had become post-industrial, underused land.

In 1989, a citizen advisory committee called the Task Force to Bring Back the Don ignited the idea of the river mouth and surrounding valley as an important natural space that should be restored and publicly accessible.

In 2005, we began the process to establish the Terms of Reference process for the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Environmental Assessment (DMNP EA). This set the conditions of the EA.

In September 2006, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change approved the Terms of Reference for the DMNP EA and the study formally began.

In 2007, Waterfront Toronto launched an international design competition to create a concept design that included habitat creation and flood protection, and a comprehensive plan for addressing urban design, transportation, naturalization, sustainability and other ecological issues. This involved an extensive public consultation process and a week-long public exhibition. The winning design is by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. This provided the framework for what would become the preferred alternative through the DMNP EA.

In 2011, Toronto City Council adopted what would later be called the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative (PLAI). The goal of the initiative was to retain the core ideas behind the DMNP EA while developing strategies for accelerating revitalization in the Port Lands. This plan was refined in 2012 and became known as PLAI 2, which included the Port Lands Planning Framework, Villiers Island Precinct Plan and Port Lands and South of Eastern Transportation and Servicing Master Plan Environmental Assessment.

In 2014, the Lower Don Lands Master Plan Environmental Assessment was approved.

In 2015, the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Environmental Assessment was approved.

In May 2015, work began on the Due Diligence Report for Port Lands Flood Protection.

In October 2016, the Due Diligence Report for the Port Lands Flood Protection Project was completed, providing governments with additional assurance on the cost of this project, ways to mitigate the risks, and a strategy and schedule for executing the project.

In October 2016, the Due Diligence Report for the Port Lands Flood Protection Project was completed, providing governments with additional assurance on the cost of this project, ways to mitigate the risks, and a strategy and schedule for executing the project. The first piece of work as part of Port Lands Flood Protection, Cherry Street Lakefilling, received tri-government funding in 2016 through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund

In June 2017, $1.25 billion in municipal, provincial and federal funding was awarded to the Port Lands Flood Protection Project.

In October 2017, the Port Lands Planning Framework and Villiers Island Precinct Plan were adopted by Toronto City Council.

Construction on the full Port Lands Flood Protection project began in December 2017. This ambitious undertaking is slated for completion in 2024. Cherry Street Lakefilling was completed in 2019. And with excavation on the river valley well underway and the first of four new bridges slated to be installed in fall 2020, this project is on track.

Public consultation has been an integral part of the planning process and continued through detailed design. This summary reflects comments from over 5,300 people at 22 meetings and events since starting detailed design work on the new roads, bridges, river valley, parks and trails for the Port Lands (between August 2017 and May 2020).

Meeting Materials

If you’re not familiar with Port Lands Flood Protection, check out the Port Lands 101 section above.

Click here for an update on construction progress.

Click here to see upcoming construction.

Here’s an update on work with Indigenous communities.

View the presentation slides here.


This is the second presentation, a design update on the river and parks.

View the presentation slides here.

This is the third set of presentations, designs for the roadway and public realm along Lake Shore Boulevard East between Don Roadway and Carlaw Avenue. This presentation begins with an overview of the proposal to deliver some elements of the City of Toronto’s Gardiner East project along with the Port Lands Flood Protection project.

Design direction for work on the Gardiner East and Lake Shore Boulevard East comes from the approved Environmental Assessment carried out by Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto. More information on that study can be found here.


Explore the Lake Shore Boulevard East plan in more detail: view the slides here.

A live Q & A took place during the meeting on December 4th. Watch a recording of the meeting here:

A document containing all the questions and answers, including answers to questions that were not fully addressed during the live Q & A can be found here.

The Survey is now closed. A summary of feedback can be found here.