Key Studies and Plans

As we design the parks, naturalized spaces, roads and public realm we’ll build as part of Port Lands Flood Protection, we’re following criterion set by environmental assessments and other planning initiatives. There are also several planning documents that will help guide future development in the Port Lands, once flood protection is complete in 2023.

Below are descriptions of some key documents. You’ll find materials related to meetings and community consultations for these studies and plans in the Documents Library.

Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto finalized the Class Environmental Assessment Lower Don Lands Master Plan (LDL MP EA) in 2010. It was then revised in 2014 to align with a master plan for transportation, water/wastewater and stormwater management in the Lower Don Lands.

The LDL MP EA represents a key component in the revitalization of Toronto’s Port Lands.

The Lower Don Lands is a 125-hectare area that runs from the Parliament Street Slip east to the Don Roadway and from the rail corridor south to the Ship Channel in the Port Lands. The Lower Don Lands is a critical site for establishing connectivity between Toronto’s downtown and the Port Lands. By providing a plan for integrated and sustainable infrastructure, the LDL MP EA supports the revitalization of these lands and adds to the health, vitality and sustainability of Toronto’s waterfront.

The LDL MP EA refines the location of road alignments and includes all of the critical infrastructure elements identified in the City of Toronto’s Central Waterfront Secondary Plan. Recognizing that the site is a critical link between city and harbour, the LDL MP EA provides multiple connections to the surrounding neighbourhoods, existing and proposed, and to the harbour on all sides.

The road and transit network has been shaped to frame the new Don River alignment based on the standards for all the bridges set out in the Don Mouth Naturalization and Flood Protection EA (DMNP EA). The LDL MP EA includes the realignment of Queens Quay East, Lake Shore Boulevard East and Cherry Street and the location for bridges at the Keating Channel, Commissioners Street Bridge and Basin Street Bridge over the Greenway.

The Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Environmental Assessment (DMNP EA) was approved by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in 2015.

Naturalizing the mouth of the Don River and providing flood protection to the Port Lands were identified as one of the top priorities for all three levels of government when they first announced the establishment of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation in 2001. Planning for this work was initiated in early 2005 when Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) and Waterfront Toronto, the project co-proponents, with the commencement of the Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference.

This environmental assessment established a plan to transform the existing mouth of the Don River – including the Keating Channel – into a healthier, more naturalized river outlet to the Toronto inner harbour and Lake Ontario and remove the risk of flooding to 240 hectares of land. This became the Port Lands Flood Protection project.

The Port Lands Planning Framework was adopted by Toronto City Council in 2017.

Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto developed this high-level plan to establish a coordinated and comprehensive framework to guide investment and future revitalization of the Port Lands.

The framework lays out the steps required for the long-term revitalization of the Port Lands. As certain parts of the Port Lands won’t be developed in the near-term, this vision will guide the transformation of the Port Lands over the next 50+ years.

It incorporates the direction provided by two approved Environmental Assessments (Lower Don lands Master Plan EA, Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project EA) and the Villiers Island Precinct Plan, adopted by city council in 2017.

It provides direction for updating and refining the vision in the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan. This includes direction on land use, parks and open spaces, cultural and heritage resources, community infrastructure, movement and access, buildings, arts and culture, innovation and sustainability, biodiversity and green infrastructure.

The Villiers Island Precinct Plan was adopted by Toronto City Council in 2017.

The Villiers Island (formerly Cousins Quay) precinct is approximately 22 hectares of land bounded by the Keating Channel to the north, Toronto harbour to the west, and the future Don River valley to the east and south.

In 2013, Waterfront Toronto in collaboration with the City of Toronto and Toronto Region and Conservation released a request for proposals, seeking area-wide plans and design guidelines for the Cousins Quay Precinct (now Villiers Island).

Precinct planning forms the bridge that allows the city to move from the policies in the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan to zoning by-law provisions. Precinct plans establish the location, scale and character of blocks and streets, buildings, parks and public spaces, and community facilities within a specific area. More detailed urban design guidelines are also developed.

The Villiers Island precinct plan ensures this will become a complete community by recommending locations for community services and facilities, public art, transportation, affordable housing, office/retail and sustainable infrastructure.

The precinct plan complements the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project Environmental Assessment, Lower Don Lands Master Plan Environmental Assessment and the Port Lands Planning Framework.

The Film Studio District is bounded by the Don Roadway to the west, Lake Shore Boulevard East to the north, Carlaw Avenue to the east and the Ship Channel to the south. The area has a mix of private and public ownership, with long-term leases on public lands. The most significant recent development in the area is the Pinewood Film Studios, with two special effects stages and 11 soundstages on 4.9 hectares of land.

In October 2012, Toronto city council directed city staff, with Waterfront Toronto, to initiate precinct planning for the Film Studio District. Precinct planning forms the bridge that allows the city to move from the policies in the Central Waterfront Secondary Plan to zoning by-law provisions. Precinct plans establish the location, scale and character of blocks and streets, buildings, parks and public spaces, and community facilities within a specific area. More detailed urban design guidelines are also developed.

Subsequent to the 2012 city council direction, precinct planning for the district was put on hold. More detailed policy direction will be included for the district in the Port Lands Planning Framework, and the major street network will be established through the Port Lands and South of Eastern Transportation and Servicing Master Plan (TSMP). Precinct planning may continue following a decision by city council on the Planning Framework and TSMP.

Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto began work in October 2011 to create a development and implementation plan for the Port Lands. The goal of the initiative is to deliver a high-level road map for accelerating development and maximizing the value of the Port Lands as a unique city legacy.

The undertaking is the result of Toronto city council’s September 21 unanimous decision for Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto to lead a review of the Port Lands and to ensure the process is informed by extensive public consultation. This work is designed in part to build upon Waterfront Toronto’s work to date, including its plans for the Lower Don Lands.

The key findings and supplementary reports developed as part of the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative were considered by the city’s Executive Committee. In October 2012, Toronto city council unanimously adopted the amended recommendations from the Executive Committee to accelerate development in the Port Lands.