This stretch of Toronto’s waterfront needs to be looked after in ways that respect and protect the significant natural and cultural features of the Bluffs.
Looking after our waterfront means finding the right balance
By Alexandra Papaiconomou
Ever since The Waterfront Plan was developed for Metro Toronto Planning Area in 1967, the desire to have a waterfront that balances land uses, complements nearby areas, is readily accessible, and recognizes natural features has propelled many projects along Toronto’s Lake Ontario shoreline. Today, achieving this delicate balance forms the foundation of the work underway by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to create a system of greenspaces along an 11-kilometre stretch of the shoreline between Bluffer’s Park to East Point Park -- a project called the Scarborough Waterfront Project.
Unlike neighbouring waterfront areas, this stretch of the Scarborough waterfront includes a unique natural feature. The iconic Bluffs shoreline offers strikingly beautiful natural greenspaces, providing habitats for a wide variety of fish, birds and other wildlife. The distinctive quality of the Bluffs and their value to our urban landscape means that this stretch of Toronto’s waterfront needs to be looked after in ways that respect and protect the significant natural and cultural features of the Bluffs now and for future generations.
As experience has shown in cities worldwide, nature in a city needs to be effectively managed or it will decline. For the Bluffs, that means balancing the realities of being located among millions of people, building and maintaining infrastructure that offers a high quality of life to all, protecting natural features and wildlife habitats, and ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy the Bluffs and the Scarborough waterfront as well. Public access and trails are vital to this balance. They need to be strategically placed and managed to accommodate existing and planned infrastructure such as the railway, and to encourage the protection of wildlife habitats and uncommon Bluffs plant species such as the Buffaloberry.
In January 2016, after months of planning between TRCA, the City of Toronto and various specialist stakeholders, a range of several alternatives were proposed for the Scarborough Waterfront. In June 2016, following further consultation, TRCA issued the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (the option that best meets the Project Objectives that were developed in the Terms of Reference phase) for the entire 11 km stretch of the project area.
Community interest in this project has been tremendous. To date, TRCA has received and considered more than 1,500 comments since the release of the Preliminary Preferred Alternatives in June. Not surprisingly, there is a diversity of opinion and suggestions on how the project should be implemented. The broad range of opinions that exists in the community reflects the delicate balance that this project needs to strike. These opinions include the push to allow for the accessibility of high-quality experiences for all, and the recognition that nature must be protected for generations to come.
TRCA will continue to engage with local community groups to provide updates on the project and seek feedback. While the Preliminary Preferred Alternative is established, many decisions about how it will be executed remain, and community input will be actively sought as the project proceeds. In the meantime, TRCA will work with local councillors over the next few weeks to plan an open house for residents to hear about the project and ask questions. Your community association will be notified as soon as details are confirmed. If you have any questions about the project, you can contact TRCA at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 416-661-6600, ext. 5305.