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Toronto Real Estate: The Portlands Project

Toronto Real Estate: The Portlands Project

Where Are The Port Lands?

Toronto real estate continues to grow as the Port Lands project is underway. The Port Lands are 356 hectares of space in downtown Toronto. The borders of this area include Ashbridges Bay to the East, Toronto Inner Harbour to the West, Lake Ontario/Tommy Thompson Park to the South and the Keating Channel/Don River and Lake Shore Boulevard to the North. It is easily accessible to Toronto’s downtown core, being approximately a 30-minute walk away.

A Brief History Of The Port Lands

The Port Lands was once one of the largest natural wetlands on any of the Great Lakes. The lower Don River emptied itself into Toronto’s inner harbour which created the Ashbridges Bay Marsh. This presented a number of problems for the settlers of York. In the 1870s, the settlers decided to build man-made structures including channels and breakwaters to help manage the marsh. Most of these attempts failed to protect the area so plans were made to change this area in the 1910s.

It was decided in 1912 that the Ashbridges Bay Marsh would be turned into an industrial area that would have summer homes and waterfront parks. In order to create this, the Don River’s mouth was rerouted into the Keating Channel and they began to infill the wetlands. Over 200 hectares of land were made on the former marsh through infilling by 1922. In the following years, an additional 200 hectares were made. The newly created land was quickly taken over as industrial and shipping space. The plans of waterfront parks and homes never came to fruition.

The mouth of the Don River and the Ashbridges Bay Marsh area became inaccessible in the 1950s after the building of the Gardiner Expressway. Since then, Torontonians have been asking to have the land revitalized and to naturalize the mouth of the Don River.

What is the Port Lands Flood Protection Project?

The Port Lands Flood Protection Project is the key to revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront area. The city has the Port Lands under mega construction to provide flood protection (including the Port Lands, South Riverdale, Leslieville and the East Harbour) by rerouting the Don River to create a naturalized river valley. The plan is to redevelop the Port Lands to create an infrastructure that is a sustainable community called Villiers Island.

The calls of Toronto residents to naturalize the mouth of the Don River and revitalize the Port Lands area were answered in 2017. The Port Lands Planning Framework and Villers Island Precinct Plan were acquired by the Toronto City Council in October 2017. Construction began in December 2017. The project is projected to be completed in 2024.

The Port Lands Flood Protection Project aims to save Toronto’s southeastern downtown area from a potential flood risk. If an extreme weather event occurred, Don River’s flood waters could negatively impact Leslieville, South Riverdale, and the Port Lands. The Port Lands Flood Protection Project will reconfigure the Don River’s connection to Lake Ontario through the creation of a natural river mouth.

Villiers Island

Once the river is rerouted, a new river valley will flow through the Port Lands and work can begin on building parks, bridges, roads, and municipal infrastructure into a new area that will be known as Villers Island. Villiers Island will transform Toronto’s real estate with the projection of creating homes for over 25,000 people with 20% being affordable housing and providing 30,000 jobs. It will be Toronto’s first climate-positive community where they can harness renewable energy.

Villers Island will create new parks and green spaces for the public to enjoy. Opportunities to fish, kayak, and even snowshoe throughout this space will be made possible through the carefully crafted plans for developing a mixed-use island community. Villers Island will serve as a gateway from the Keating Channel and West Don Lands neighbourhoods. It will transform the city into a future-oriented, environmentally responsible, and viable area to live, work, play and explore.

The next time you are downtown Toronto and feeling frustrated by the construction, just envision the possibility that the Port Lands Project and Villers Island are creating. Once construction is complete and it is time to move to Villers Island and enjoy all that it has to offer, don’t hesitate to call your favourite Toronto real estate agent to discuss the opportunity.


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