A new naturalized river mouth is being constructed for Toronto’s Don River, a vast infrastructure project physically reshaping the city’s natural geography.
Part of the broader Port Lands Flood Protection project, the rebuilt Don River mouth will form the new Villiers Island, creating new parks and development lands and reducing flooding risks for a wide swathe of the city.
Waterfront Toronto provided a progress update this week on the $1.25 billion undertaking, offering drone-captured aerial footage following the twists and turns of the new naturalized river course and the various parks and wildlife habitats being constructed around it.
The drone video highlights the future path of the Don River that has been etched through the Port Lands.
A plug currently holds back water from the current river mouth at the Keating Channel as crews widen and deepen the area north of the future river course. A sediment and debris management area under construction west of the existing channelized river will help maintain the depth of the naturalized river mouth.
A new bridge is under construction to carry Lake Shore Boulevard traffic over the widened river. South of this bridge, the barrier dividing the existing river from the new naturalized mouth is visible. Beyond the barrier, crews continue to install the river rock baselining the riverbed.
Project features, including a greenway, human-made wetlands flanking the river, some of the over six kilometres of trails, and a pair of pedestrian bridges, can all be spotted in varying states of completion.
Past the river mouth, an area known as Canoe Cove is now filled in with water, creating a group of small islands people will be able to paddle to in watercraft. Wildlife has already moved into the area, and Waterfront Toronto has noted the presence of mink, beavers, herons, and even bald eagles.
West of Canoe Cove, the future Promontory Park is still in a somewhat raw state, but features like a future promenade have begun to take shape. The adjacent Promontory Park North includes a pair of fish habitats, which have also begun to attract life.
The drone video also provides an update on the realignment of Cherry Street, which is being shifted several metres to the west to allow better connections in the future Port Lands neighbourhood.