Toronto, ON – One of North America’s largest water infrastructure projects reached a major milestone on Wednesday, January 31, when pumps were activated for the first time to begin pushing water into the new Don River valley.

The $1.3-billion, 10-year flood protection project is part of a reclamation project that will connect the river to Lake Ontario later in 2024. It will take a couple of weeks to fill the 1.3-kilometre river valley, allowing crews to gauge how the water initially moves through the new infrastructure. The pumps will run until an overall depth of two to three metres is achieved.

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 has been 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.


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