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Planning for Nature in the City: The Restoration of the Mouth of the Don River as a Case Study

Planning for Nature in the City: The Restoration of the Mouth of the Don River as a Case Study

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Title: Planning for Nature in the City: The Restoration of the Mouth of the Don River as a Case Study
Author: Sutton, Amanda
Identifier: MESMP02548
Abstract: The Don River once travelled from the Oak Ridges Moraine, through dense forests, to empty into a large marsh at its mouth in Lake Ontario. The Don River now travels through some of the most urbanized parts of the Greater Toronto Area, to its final destination at the Port Lands, where it empties into the Keating Channel. The Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Plan (DMNP) is a plan to restore and realign the mouth of the Don River so as to return it to a semblance of its former self, while simultaneously revitalizing the Port Lands and providing essential flood protection for downtown Toronto. The DMNP holds the potential to undue a legacy of environmental degradation in the lower Don River while forging an important connection between the built and natural environments. Additionally, the DMNP plans to transform the Port Lands from an industrial site to an urban mixed-use community with a realigned and restored mouth of the Don River running through the centre of the community. For these reasons it must be recognized as an important city building moment for Toronto.

This paper examines the proposed restoration of the mouth of the Don River using a framework established by Eric Higgs. This examination looks to the future, at the eventual implementation of the DMNP plan, and identifies potential strengths and weaknesses associate with the restoration project. An ecosystem approach is applied which places the project within the larger natural and built environments within which it is situated and whose processes have an impact. A political ecology approach is applied which reveals the political influences and decisions surrounding the planning process for the restoration project. This inquiry reveals that the DMNP plan possesses both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the likely outcome of the restoration. The DMNP planning process to date has been rife with complexities and intricacies of a social, political, and environmental nature. How the plan will progresses through to implementation will depend on such influences and will greatly impact the outcome of the restoration. The intent of this research paper is to provide an analysis capable of informing those interested in the project so that they may derive inspiration, learn from its mistakes, and gain knowledge to guide future work.
Type: Major paper
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/30276
Citation: Major Paper, Master of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Date: 2014

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