TORONTO, May 7 /CNW/ - Waterfront Toronto unveils detailed plans for
transforming the Lower Don Lands, a 125-hectare (308-acre) industrial area
located south of the rail corridor in the east end of Toronto's harbour, into
new sustainable parks and communities.
As part of waterfront revitalization, Waterfront Toronto has taken bold
and innovative approach to naturalize the mouth of the Don River and to
transform the Lower Don Lands, a critical link between the new waterfront
communities emerging in East Bayfront, the West Don Lands and the Port Lands.
The plans would see the mouth of the Don River moved from its current
location at the Keating Channel near the Don Roadway to Lake Ontario on the
eastern side of Toronto's inner harbour. The river would be re-routed through
the middle of the Lower Don Lands between the Shipping Channel and the Keating
Channel. This will result in the Don River once again becoming a major feature
of Toronto's waterfront and the centerpiece of new mixed-use neighbourhoods
and parks and green spaces in the Portlands.
Waterfront Toronto's plans were developed through a comprehensive
Environmental Assessment (EA) process which has included the examination of
several alternative planning solutions. The plans are rooted in planning
designs developed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) as part of the
international design competition for the Lower Don Lands held by Waterfront
Toronto in 2007.
"What excites me about the plans for the Lower Don Lands is that it
provides a new type of neighbourhood for Toronto," says Waterfront Toronto
President and CEO John Campbell. "The plans are models for new sustainable
communities. They will create a new destination for Toronto where the city,
lake and the river interact in a dynamic and balanced relationship - an urban
"How often does a city re-locate the mouth of a river, restore the river
to a condition that nature would applaud, create a new park along its edges
and build the most carbon neutral new urban neighbourhood possible?" says
Michael Van Valkenburgh, Principal of MVVA and the consultant team lead for
the project. "The Lower Don Lands project proposes an approach to an urbanized
river which no city has taken before."
Creating sustainable communities is a fundamental objective for
Waterfront Toronto. To ensure that its plans for the Lower Don Lands were
based on innovative and multifaceted approachs to sustainability, Waterfront
Toronto created an integrated design process that utilized the expertise of
landscape architects, urban designers, hydrologists, ecologists, climate
engineers, environmental specialists, sustainability specialists, and economic
The Lower Don Lands plans take a holistic approach through the
introduction of urban development, native ecologies, and public infrastructure
in the transformation of the area into vibrant, mixed-use communities lined by
generous promenades and traversed by a series of bridges for vehicles,
transit, cyclists, and pedestrians.
As part of Waterfront Toronto's broader sustainability goals, the Lower
Don Lands plans prioritize transit as a mode of transportation creating
dedicated space for high frequency light rail transit. In addition, extensive
multiuse trails in the area will act as major connecting links with the Don
Valley Trail system, the Don Greenway, and the Martin Goodman Trail,
maintaining continuity and enhancing the public realm.
Sun and wind movement studies have been used to shape the orientation of
buildings and street blocks in the plans for the Lower Don Lands. This will
not only further the development of an energy efficient indoor building
climate but will also provide for a more comfortable experience in the public
realm by maximizing the natural cooling effects of summer breezes and shade
while offering protection from winter winds.
"By working with and understanding climate, a more comfortable and
sustainable city can be created at less cost to the environment," says
The plans for the Lower Don Lands envision a mix of 75 percent
residential and 25 percent non-residential space.
The first community to be developed in the Lower Don Lands will be the
Keating Channel neighbourhood, the area that runs from East Bayfront to the
Don River and from the West Don Lands to Villers Street. The precinct plan for
the area consists of 25 blocks that will feature a variety of built-forms and
architecture that support a diversity of experience and use.
The public will have an opportunity to review the plans, ask questions of
the design team and provide input at a public meeting on Saturday May 9 from
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East.
At the meeting Waterfront Toronto will present detailed plans for the
Lower Don Lands and a draft precinct plan for the Keating Channel
neighbourhood. Toronto and Region and Conservation, the agency assisting
Waterfront Toronto with the EA for the new mouth of the Don River, will
present the new river alignment and innovative flood protection strategies for
the Don River.
"We are pleased to partner with Waterfront Toronto, their design team led
by Michael Van Valkenburg Associates, our EA consultant team led by AECOM, and
the City of Toronto in developing this concept design for the naturalized
mouth of the Don," said Brian Denney, Chief Administrative Officer, Toronto
and Region Conservation. "This project integrates our key goals of
naturalizing the mouth of the Don while removing the risk of flooding to the
most vulnerable area in our jurisdiction."
The original design for the Lower Don Lands upon which current plans are
based has already received recognition from the international design
community. Waterfront Toronto together with MVVA received the 2008 Royal
Architectural Institute of Canada's Sustainable Development Award for the
concept design of the Lower Don Lands. The project has also won the American
Society of Landscape Architects 2008 Honor Award in Analysis and Planning.
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
For further information:
For further information: Media Contact: Sheri DeCarlo, Waterfront
Toronto, (416) 214-1344 x 279