Footage shows water being pumped into new stretch of river that will reshape Toronto’s waterfront

Aerial footage is giving a glimpse into the reshaping of Toronto’s waterfront as the city begins pumping water to flood the new mouth of the Don River.

The process began on Jan. 31, when crews started pumping water into the newly constructed river valley in the Port Lands, south of the Gardiner-DVP juncture.

Footage shows water being pumped into new stretch of river that will reshape Toronto’s waterfront

In a blog post, Waterfront Toronto said that while the step is exciting, people should not expect to see a scene out of an action film.

“Flooding the new mouth of the Don River is an exciting event – but not the dramatic gush of water many people imagine,” the organization said. “We’ve been working towards this moment for years, and now you can follow along as we start the slow and careful process of adding water to the river we built.”

It will take about three weeks to completely flood the river. Each day, enough water will be pumped to fill the Goodyear blimp. Altogether, the equivalent of 30 Olympic sized swimming pools will be pumped in over the three weeks.

New mouth of Don River

At that point, the waters will be 6.5 metres at their deepest point and around two metres at their shallowest, and they will be roughly the same height as the lake waters.

Crews will then remove cut-off wall plugs in three locations, allowing the new waters to touch Lake Ontario.  

The north plug is where the existing Don River will flow into the new river valley; the west plug is where the new river will flow out into the inner harbour and Lake Ontario; and the south plug is where the Don Greenway meets Lake Ontario.

New mouth of Don River

The Don Greenway is being flooded first. The area isn’t expected to touch the river except during an extreme storm where it will act as “an emergency relief valve.” 

“Flooding the river is a slow and controlled process to protect the plants and riverbank materials we’ve installed,” Waterfront Toronto said. “When complete, you’ll be able to see the river from the Cherry South and Commissioners Street bridges.”

New mouth of Don River

The move is a key step in the revitalization of the Port Lands area in order to protect it from flooding.

The  winding path of the new river, visible in the footage, was modelled after other rivers in the GTA, such as the Humber River and the Rouge River. It will include features to help promote wildlife as well as steps for fishing and canoeing.   

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