Cottonwood Flats is one of Toronto's many natural areas and the latest to be restored. Cottonwood Flats, located at the base of Beechwood Drive in the Lower Don River Valley has a rich and varied history. Its industrial heritage dates back to the early 1800s when a water channel was constructed as part of a ‘mill race’ to power a local mill. The mill probably stopped operating by 1820, but a new mill was built in the same location about 1858. An insulation manufacturing facility took over the site between 1940 and early 1960s and the site was used to store excess snow cleared from Toronto roads until 2009.
In 2009, the Natural Environment and Community Programs section of Parks, Forestry and Recreation began working with The Task Force to Bring Back the Don and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority staff on a restoration plan for the site.
The Cottonwood Flats restoration plan was created by Schollen and Company, an award winning landscape architecture and ecological restoration firm, and later revised based on stakeholder input and results from various environmental and ecological studies.
Implementing the Cottonwood Flats restoration plan will enhance the ecological diversity of the 7-hectare site by:
The plan will also improve public access to the area with formal trails and lookouts that will provide opportunities for interpretation of natural and cultural heritage features within the Don Valley corridor.