Port Lands Flood Protection

Port Land picture

  • Client

    Waterfront Toronto

  • Region

    Toronto, ON

  • City


  • Budget

    $1.25 Billion

  • Year Completed


  • Size

    81 Hectares

  • Sector


  • Sub-Sector

    Water & Wastewater


• Phase 1 – Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling Project
• Phase 2 – Port Lands Flood Protection and Enabling Infrastructure Project
• Majority of work done in or near water, including lake filling, marine landscaping, and river diversion
• Removal and remediation of large amounts of contaminated soil
• Reclamation of unused land

The Story

The Port Lands Flood Protection and Enabling Infrastructure Project (“PLFPEI”) is a collaborative venture being undertaken by Waterfront Toronto, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (“TRCA”), and the City of Toronto Port
Lands. The Port Lands is a 400 hectare (988 acre) man-made 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.

The Port Lands were created by decades of infilling what was once the largest wetland on the Great Lakes. 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 usage has been industrial and the majority of the area currently lacks proper servicing. 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 redeveloped.

Transforming the existing channelized Don River mouth into a healthier, more natural river outlet to the lake and eliminating the flood risk posed by a regulatory storm event is a priority goal for Waterfront Toronto. Flood protection of the West Don Lands and adjacent downtown areas has been achieved through construction of a flood protection landform along the west bank of the Lower Don River, and hydraulic capacity improvements to the CN Rail crossing of the river.

Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling Project

The Port Lands Flood Protection Program is comprised of two separate projects: the recently completed Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling Project and the Port Lands Flood Protection and Enabling Infrastructure Project. The Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling project included the creation of new land that will form the foundation of the future Promontory Park. This took place in several stages, beginning with the construction of a CORE Stone Revetment Berm and Combi Dock Wall. The new dock wall including concrete cap, tie backs, and sheet piles form the border for the lake filling process, which will place 436,000 cubic metres of locally sourced clean fill into the water, creating a new land mass adjacent to the new Cherry Street Bridge and edge of Promontory Park North.

To source the clean fill for the new landmass, EllisDon maximized the reuse of excavated materials where environmental standards were met. In addition, fill was imported from multiple adjacent project sites in operation throughout the duration of construction.

Landscaping will be added, both in water to create a fish habitat and on the new park land. Geotechnical monitoring measures are also set in place to ensure future preservation of the site. The primary purpose of the new land created by the lakefiling work is the relocation of Cherry Street and the existing bridge crossing the Keating Channel, however it also provides public use space, with an active recreation area, public garden, playground, and event space, as well as a wooded area and wetlands preserve.

One of the challenges of the lakefilling and revetment scope was dealing with the abundance of sediment at the bottom of Lake Ontario. To minimize risk, the team dredged the outside of the revetment, ensuring that the core stone would rest on the lake bed. To remove the sediment, the project partnered with Ports Toronto to transport the removed soil to where it could be used as lakefill on the nearby Toronto Island.

Port Lands Flood Protection Project

The PLFPEI Project comprises the flood protection and naturalization features, as well as the construction of major municipal infrastructure to maintain functional transportation and service networks. The project site is also categorized as one of the most industrialized lands of Toronto. Due to the size and scope of the project, extensive coordination with multiple trades subcontractors is required.

As part of the early works package, demolition of existing buildings on the site were completed, with the preservation of Fire Hall 30, a designated heritage building, which will be relocated and serve as an information centre.

The Port Lands is approximately 81 hectares with the river valley spanning 1.2 km within the site, and excavation of roughly 1.5 million cubic metres of fill creating 25 hectares of green space. By methods of bioremediation and combustible process, roughly 70% of soil will be repurposed and reused back into the Port Lands area. Excess soil management protocols have been put in place that include the testing and tracking of soil in and out of the job site. Once the project is complete it will provide 300 hectares of flood protection.

Port Lands enhancements include:

• Two new outlets for the Don River: a kilometre-long river valley ending in a naturalized river mouth, and the Don Greenway, which provides excess capacity to manage flood water;

• The Keating Channel will also be improved as a means to address floodwater;
• Wetlands, meadows, forested valley slopes to provide habitats for fish, birds, reptiles and other wildlife;
• Park lands and trails; and
• Open public space.

The civil/infrastructure work consists of:

• Raising the elevation grades by an average of 2 metres;
• Creation of Villiers Island;
• Three new bridges;
• A new, realigned Cherry Street and re-built Commissioners Street;
• Transit rights-of-way; and
• Critical servicing (watermains, storm and sanitary sewers).

Key scopes of work EllisDon is self-performing are site labour, formwork for dock wall repairs and environmental controls.