Construction starts on berm and new waterfront park

    Major milestone in development of first new waterfront neighbourhood

    TORONTO, June 25 /CNW/ - Federal Environment Minister John Baird, Ontario
Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal David Caplan and Toronto Mayor David
Miller today launched the start of construction of both a flood protection
berm and the Don River Park in the West Don Lands, the first new community to
be developed as part of waterfront revitalization.
    "The revitalization of the West Don Lands will transform an underused
industrial area into a vibrant new sustainable community for Torontonians,"
said the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment. "The health of
our cities and communities is critical to our country's ongoing success. That
is why Canada's New Government is providing $17.6 million to fully fund the
construction of the Don River Park. We are committed to working with other
levels of government to renew Toronto's waterfront and ensure a high quality
of life for residents and visitors alike."
    Don River Park will be an active, vibrant and inviting neighbourhood park
serving the community, the City and visitors alike. Don River Park will
provide a rich and diverse offering of landscape experiences. It will
transform an abandoned and contaminated post-industrial site into a dynamic,
re-natured public park that is animated year-round. It will invite the city to
the Don River and enhance the experience along the river's edge.
    Waterfront Toronto in partnership with the Ontario Realty Corporation is
overseeing the construction of the six-hectare berm. The berm is a key
requirement for developing the West Don Lands which are located in the flood
plain of the Don River. The berm will provide flood protection for a
174 hectare area that extends west to York Street, including Toronto's
financial district. Don River Park, a signature piece of the new West Don
Lands community, will be built on top of the berm.
    "The waterfront's future really begins today - as we begin the process of
transforming the provincially owned West Don Lands into a new community that
will one day rival London's Canary Wharf or New York's Battery Park," said
Caplan. "The long awaited berm construction is the critical step to making the
West Don Lands, one of Canada's first complete and sustainable communities."
    Approximately 200,000 cubic metres of fill will be used to construct the
low-lying berm. This is the equivalent to the load carried by 10,000 dump
trucks. At its high point, the berm will be four metres high. The berm is
scheduled to be complete in 2008 after which final landscaping for Don River
Park will take place. The park will be open in 2009. The cost of constructing
the berm is $25 million. Don River Park will cost $15 million.
    "This berm is vital to the transformation of the West Don Lands into the
dynamic community Torontonians have long been looking for in the vicinity of
their downtown waterfront," said Mayor David Miller. "It will be an affordable
and accessible community that will attract a wide variety of families and
residents from diverse economic backgrounds who want to live, work and play in
a clean, green urban environment."
    Starting construction of the berm and Don River Park is part of a number
of development activities now underway in the West Don Lands. On June 18,
2007, Waterfront Toronto issued a Request for Qualifications for the
development of 850 units of residential housing in the West Don Lands. And,
Toronto Community Housing, Waterfront Toronto's affordable housing partner for
the first phase of West Don Lands development, will start construction of
130 units of affordable rental housing in the fall of 2007.
    "Today represents a major milestone for revitalization of Toronto's
waterfront," said Mark Wilson, Waterfront Toronto's chair. "Building this berm
has been one of the biggest barriers to transforming this area into a new
vibrant neighbourhood. Today we officially overcome that barrier and start the
major construction of the first new waterfront community."
    In addition to the berm, flood protection is also being provided by
widening the channel of the Don River so that it can accommodate a larger flow
of water. Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) is carrying out this work.
Widening the river channel requires extending the railway bridge that spans
the channel. This bridge work will be complete in July along with a new
pedestrian underpass that links the new West Don Lands community to the
existing Don River and waterfront trails. The underpass will open in 2009 when
Don River Park is complete.
    The West Don Lands, made up of 32 hectares next to the Distillery
District, run from Parliament Street east to the Don River and from King
Street south to the rail corridor. Waterfront Toronto has made community
consultation an integral part of the design and development of the West Don
    "In 1999 our community identified flood protection as the single biggest
barrier to redevelopment of the West Don Lands," said Cindy Wilkey, Chair of
the West Don Lands Committee. "When the flood protection berm is completed in
2008, landscaping for the fabulous new Don River Park can start and new
neighbours will finally be able to move in. The $20 million for flood
protection and the $19 million for the creation of Don River Park are critical
investments that will stimulate private sector partnership in building this
new neighbourhood."
    The Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto
created Waterfront Toronto to oversee and lead the renewal of Toronto's
waterfront. Public accessibility, design excellence, sustainable development,
economic development and fiscal sustainability are the key drivers of
waterfront revitalization.

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Kristin Jenkins, Waterfront
Toronto, (416) 214-1479; Eric Richer, Environment Canada, (819) 997-1441; Amy
Tang, Ontario Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, Minister's Office,
(416) 325-4048; Don Wanagas, City of Toronto, Mayor's Office, (416) 338-7134

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