Flood Protection

Aerial view of flood protection landform

The West Don Lands, East Bayfront and the Port Lands are all within a designated Regulatory Flood Plain1 due to their proximity to the Don Watershed. To lift the regulatory restriction on developing these sites and realize the economic benefits of revitalization, Waterfront Toronto is required to remove the risk of flooding on these lands. After doing so, the lands may be rezoned for residential and commercial development.

West Don Lands and East Bayfront

On behalf of Waterfront Toronto, Infrastructure Ontario (previously Ontario Realty Corporation) constructed a flood protection landform along the Don River from King Street down to the rail corridor. The landform spans approximately 8 hectares and consists of a clay lining surrounded by roughly 400,000 cubic metres of clean soil. The bank along the river, known as the 'wet side', consists of an armoured wall providing additional protection against erosion. In addition to the landform, flood protection was also provided by widening the channel of the Don River so that it could accommodate a larger flow of water. This work was completed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority as part of the Lower Don River West Remedial Flood Protection Project. These measures protect the West Don Lands, East Bayfront and an additional 210-hectare area, which includes Toronto's financial district, from flooding during an extreme flood event.

The topography of the flood protection landform also serves as the foundation for a new park, Corktown Common, which has been built on top of it. Corktown Common is a naturalized space that has become a focal point for the new West Don Lands community.

The Port Lands

The Port Lands is a 356 hectare site bounded by Lake Shore Boulevard in the north, Toronto's Inner Harbour in the west, Ashbridges Bay in the east and Lake Ontario and Tommy Thompson Park in the south. Once part of a massive wetland supporting a vast range of plants, fish, waterfowl, and mammals, the area was in-filled to support industry in the 1880s. Today, this land is underutilized and is within the Don River's flood plain.

To address this, Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and the Toronto Port Lands Company have proposed to rebuild the mouth of the Don River into a healthier, more naturalized river outlet. The proposal would create a new river mouth between the Ship Channel and the Keating Channel and add an overflow green spillway. By investing in flood protection and infrastructure, the area's development potential for vital urban growth will be unlocked. The Don Mouth Naturalization Project will remove approximately 240 hectares of land from flood risk and allow the creation of new mixed-use communities.

The first part of this project, the Due Diligence and Project Planning Phase, is currently underway. The result will provide government funders with greater certainty on the costs, schedule and risks associated with the project.


1The Regulatory Flood Plain is the approved standard used to define the limit of the flood plain in a particular watershed. Within the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority's jurisdiction, the Regulatory Flood Plain is based on regional storms, Hurricane Hazel, or the 100 year flood; whichever is greater.