Revitalizing a contaminated urban brownfield and creating an ecologically functional river mouth will create a new sustainable community and reduce the risk of flooding in Canada’s largest city.

The City of Toronto is working with Waterfront Toronto, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government to re-naturalize the mouth of the Don River into a healthier and ecologically functional river outlet to Toronto’s Inner Harbour. This will allow for the transformation of the Port Lands, an underutilized and contaminated industrial area, into a new sustainable community. Creating the new river mouth will protect 290 hectares of land east and south of the Don River which is currently at risk of flooding and will include the decontamination or removal of approximately 2.5 million m3 of polluted soil.

23% annual reduction in CO2 emissions from the revitalization project

Cities100 – 2015

The plan is to transform the Port Lands Neighbourhoods into a resilient and sustainable community with 12,500 homes, 279,000 m2 of commercial and retail space, and 53 hectares of parks and public spaces. The sustainability focus includes implementing aggressive energy and transportation strategies such as targets for energy use intensity and measures to encourage active mobility by building bike-share facilities and designated lanes for pedestrians and bikes.

The challenge

The Port Lands Neighbourhoods was once a massive wetland teeming with aquatic wildlife, but the area was filled to create an industrial district. Now, after years serving industrial purposes, the district has become an underutilized, heavily contaminated brownfield site. Toronto plans to revitalize the area to develop a sustainable community.


Economic The direct investment in flood protection will generate approximately $859 million in economic value added to the Canadian economy.

Environmental The project aims to reduce potable water consumption in the new community by mandating high-efficiency fixtures and appliances in buildings and exploring opportunities for grey water reuse for irrigation, toilets, and other uses.

Health The project aims to make the district a zero waste export community by requiring high levels of domestic, commercial, industrial, and construction waste diversion, reducing pollutants from unmanaged waste and overused landfills.

Social The project is estimated to generate 7,672 person years of employment.

About Toronto

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. With a population in 2016 of 2,731,571, it is the fourth most populous city in North America and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world. While the majority of Torontonians speak English as their primary language, there are over 160 different languages spoken in the city. Toronto is a prominent centre for music, theatre, motion picture production, and television production. Toronto is known for its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings.

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