Port Lands Flood Protection
Toronto’s Port Lands have a troubled history of pollution, neglect, and decay. The MVVA team’s winning response to the Lower Don Lands competition of 2007 proposed a new future for this vast, flood-prone area covering 330 acres. The proposal envisioned a dramatic repositioning of hydrological, landscape, and transportation systems to enable smart, climate-adapted growth. Implementation of the first phase of what is now known as the Port Lands Flood Protection project (PLFP) has recently begun. First and foremost a public safety project, PLFP calls for digging a new River Valley capable of carrying large volumes of stormwater out to Lake Ontario.
Once complete, this new mouth of the Don River will protect existing communities from flooding during storm events while also creating opportunities to safely build new neighborhoods on Toronto’s waterfront.
Benefitting from the beauty of the restored riparian environment, the project will also permit expansion of the public realm. Gaps in bike trails will be mended, expanding opportunities for nonmotorized travel between existing parks and neighborhoods. New parklands will allow Torontonians to immerse themselves in the urban waterfront.
New landforms, water channels, soils, and plants will create generous wetlands that flank the sinuous waterway, allowing native ecological communities to return to the site. A forested edge cools and buffers the water from urban runoff while providing quality wildlife habitat.
Along with flood protection, PLFP is also a massive soil remediation project. Former industrial soils are categorized for safe reuse and retention on site or for off-site treatment, maximizing construction efficiency along with environmental health.
The Port Lands Flood Protection project improves the safety and quality of life for the people of Toronto through ecosystem-based strategies at an urban scale. It will enable the growth of a new urban district with a living, working landscape at its heart.
Researchers study plants sprouting from century-old seeds uncovered during Toronto Port Lands excavation