Chester Springs Marsh is part of the ongoing effort to "Bring Back the Don" by restoring some of the natural habitat that once flourished in this degraded area of the valley. This restoration project was developed to show the benefits a marsh (wetland) would bring to rehabilitating the Don.
Wetlands play a major role in preserving the watersheds ecology by:
- providing habitat -shelter, food and breeding ground for wildlife;
- regulating water quantity by absorbing and releasing water as needed; and
- filtering and removing harmful pollutants and contaminants from the environment.
Chester Springs Marsh is located just south of the (Bloor Street) Prince Edward Viaduct. This restored wetland habitat covers 3 hectares (about the size of 7 football fields). Built on the site of an early 1900s landfill, Chester Springs Marsh was one of the first major wetland restorations in the Don Valley. The marsh, or wetland, is divided into two parts separated by the Don River.
The East Marsh, on the eastern side of the river, borders the Lower Don Trail and is open to the public to visit.
On the west side of the river, the West Marsh provides a protected habitat for a variety of wetland wildlife.
Innovative habitat features such as sunning logs, perching stumps, bird boxes and snake hibernaculi were built into the design of the Marsh in order to provide the appropriate conditions for resident and migratory birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Chester Springs Marsh was completed in 1996. It has been monitored since then. The data collected indicates a substantial increase in the number of species recorded at the site. Monitoring results show a variety of plants and animals now inhabit the site. Our volunteers planted most of the vegetation in 1996, but many species have found their way into the marsh on their own. The marsh was built with the intention of providing habitat for the unique species that are attracted to wetland environments. Today, the marsh attracts many new and old species, the presence of which indicate that the wetland is functioning as a healthy ecosystem.
Chester Springs Marsh also acts as a natural flood control mechanism. Presently, the Don has the ability to flood over very quickly during storm periods. Wetlands play a significant role in the water cycle as they help regulate both water quality and quantity. Chester Springs Marsh plays its part to replenish underground aquifers during dry periods and ensures a well-balanced water table in the region. Importantly, the marsh cleans unwanted pollutants and excessive nutrients from the Don as its aquatic plants act as a filtering mechanism.
Chester Springs Marsh is becoming a dynamic urban wildlife haven. On a visit to the site, you may see great blue heron, black crowned night heron, sandpiper, belted kingfisher, American toad, red-winged blackbird, painted turtle or red fox.
Chester Springs Marsh was designed and constructed by Harrington & Hoyle Ltd., Landscape Architects. Visit Harrington & Hoyle's virtual tour of the Marsh.