In October 2011, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto began working on 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 massive underutilized industrial area with extensive waterfront access conveniently located close to downtown is an unprecedented future development opportunity.
The Port Lands is a 356 hectare (880-acre) district bounded by the Keating Channel/Don River and Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, the Toronto Inner Harbour in the west, Ashbridges Bay in the east and Lake Ontario and Tommy Thompson Park in the south. This extensive, underutilized area presents an unprecedented opportunity for waterfront revitalization. Much of the Port Lands is publicly owned and is within a 30 minute walk of downtown Toronto. The southern portion of the Port Lands is bordered by Lake Ontario and much of it is used formally and informally as recreational space.
The Port Lands are man-made and were created by decades of infilling what was once one of the largest wetlands on Lake Ontario. Beginning in the 1880s, the area was gradually filled in to make more land available for industry and shipping. Since it was created, most of the Port Lands have been utilized for industrial uses and the majority of the area currently lacks servicing for other uses. Much of the area is also in the flood plain of the Don River and flood protection must be created before the area can be fully developed.
Given the size and numerous challenges with the area, revitalization of the Port Lands is a long term initiative.
The undertaking is the result of Toronto City Council's September 21, 2011 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 the work we have completed to date, including our plans for the Lower Don Lands.
The work has been a highly collaborative process. Waterfront Toronto and the City worked closely with Toronto and Region Conservation and sought input from other agencies such as the Toronto Port Lands Company and PortsToronto (Toronto Port Authority). Stakeholders such as land owners, tenants, port users and sector specific groups were engaged throughout the process.
Public consultation played a central role in the creation of the go forward plan for the Port Lands and included traditional in-person public meetings and interactive social media and web enabled consultations. A Stakeholder Advisory Committee consisting of a broad range of representatives from interested and affected stakeholder organizations was formed along with a Landowner and User Advisory Committee.
In the autumn of 2015, a public consultation meeting was held to present the emerging plans and findings from three concurrent studies — the Port Lands Planning Framework, Villiers Island Precinct Plan and the Port Lands and South of Eastern Transportation and Servicing Master Plan Environmental Assessment.
To view project information including summary reports, presentations, videos and other meeting materials please visit the consultation website at www.portlandsconsultation.ca.
final port lands acceleration initiative reports
The key findings and supplementary reports developed as part of the Port Lands Acceleration Initiative are now available. The staff report on the initiative was considered by the City’s Executive Committee on September 10, 2012. On October 2, 2012 Toronto City Council unanimously adopted the amended recommendations from the Executive Committee to accelerate development in the Port Lands.
Click here to view the final Port Lands Acceleration Initiative reports.
mouth of the don river and port lands flood protection
The Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project will reroute the existing river from its current location. The project will create a new river outlet to Lake Ontario, continuous riverfront open space and expanded opportunities for interaction with the water. It will also enhance habitat for natural species and will re-establish wetlands in the area, which provide social and environmental benefits and naturally moderate the effects of flooding and erosion. Learn more here.
improving the area
A number of initiatives have taken place to make the Port Lands more people friendly and to ensure the area is utilized prior to full-scale development.
We have landscaped and enhanced key streets and intersections, and added cycling trails as part of a greening of the area.
Recreational facilities have also been improved. In 2004, Waterfront Toronto completed landscape improvements and restoration of Cherry Beach, one of Toronto’s most popular beaches located along southern shore of Lake Ontario in the western end of the Port Lands. And, the Cherry Beach Sports Fields were opened in 2008, including two premier regulation-sized soccer and lacrosse fields.
An exciting future initiative will be the development of Lake Ontario Park. It will transform the southern portion of the Port Lands into part of a massive new park. Encompassing 375 hectares (927 acres) and 37 kilometres of shoreline, Lake Ontario Park will be Canada’s next great urban park. It will encompass numerous ecologically unique and distinctive landscapes, from the spectacular wetlands that define Tommy Thompson Park, to the cathedral stand of cottonwoods that frames Cherry Beach. Lake Ontario Park will be a world renowned urban wilderness and recreational park that will truly define our relationship with the water’s edge.
planning for the area
Historically, Port Lands revitalization has been hampered by fragmented land control, the cost of soil remediation and infrastructure and business relocation challenges. To date, planning efforts by Waterfront Toronto and City of Toronto have established an overall vision for creating vibrant, mixed-use communities in the Port Lands.
A draft Port Lands Implementation Strategy Report was created to develop a clear and realistic strategy for Port Lands revitalization. The plan is intended to be the road map to achieve green, sustainable communities. It leverages previous work and finds ways to add value through things like design, commercial development, and environmental improvements to the area in a structured way that is flexible enough to respond to events that will occur over the many years it will take to completely revitalize the Port Lands.
The plan reconfirms and where necessary defines, land use, public spaces, linkages between parks, infrastructure, development, phasing and investment considerations.
The plan addresses things like precinct boundaries and sequencing; ultimate and interim land uses and leasing; relocation and mitigation; urban structure; phasing of infrastructure and development; parks and public space linkages; transportation structure; recreation and water's edge use; master servicing; soil remediation strategy; energy strategy; and a sustainability process.
pilot soil recycling project
Much of Toronto’s waterfront was constructed by filling in parts of Lake Ontario with materials that are considered contaminated by current standards. Treatment of these soils is needed to allow for revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront, including the development of new parks and public spaces.
In an effort to raise the bar on brownfield remediation and in support of our soil management strategy and overall commitment to sustainability, Waterfront Toronto conducted a pilot soil recycling project in the Port Lands.
Click here to learn more about this initiative.
Size: 356 hectare (880-acre)
Location: Keating Channel/Don River and Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, the Toronto Inner Harbour in the west, Ashbridges Bay in the east and Lake Ontario and Tommy Thompson Park in the south.
Proximity: much of it is within a 30 minute walk of downtown Toronto.
History: Man-made area created by infilling what was once one of the largest wetlands on Lake Ontario. Beginning in the 1880s, the area was gradually filled in to make more land available for industry and shipping.
Image Gallery: Click here to view the Port Lands image gallery