The Lower Don Trail is a 4.7 kilometre section of multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists that runs along the Don River, from Pottery Road to Corktown Commons. Home to a wide array of plant and animal species, revitalization of sensitive natural habitat is ongoing.

Part of Toronto’s ravine trail network, the Lower Don Trail is a key part of the Pan Am Path, an 82 kilometre trail linking communities across Toronto and an important legacy of the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games.

Lower Don Trail Improvements include a number of works to improve the conditions of the existing trail and access into the surrounding trail network. These improvements are based on the Lower Don Trail Master Plan (2013).

In 2012-2013 the City of Toronto commissioned a Master Plan for the Lower Don Trail that would guide the development of this increasingly well-used parkland resource.  The goals of the plan were:

  • To recommend strategies to improve environmental protection and access, and consider possibilities for public art in the lower Don River valley lands.
  • To provide a long-term strategy to establish a theme, create positive user experiences and improve access.
  • To incorporate all existing studies, plans and initiatives in the study area.

The Lower Don Trail Master Plan informed recreation planning initiatives in the Lower Don Valley and clarified the City’s priorities for improvements in the area.

What we heard from stakeholders, including the City Disability Steering Committee:

  • Viewing interest, rest areas and seating desired
  • Signage important
  • Turning radius considerations
  • Sightlines and views (especially for people in wheelchairs)
  • Surface texture differentiation (thermaplast/paving textures)
  • Phased approach to larger accessible city destinations

The ramp needs to service as many users as possible, including:

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Cyclist with trailers
  • People who use wheelchairs
  • People who use walkers or canes
  • People who use recumbent bikes and hand pedals
  • People walking dogs
  • Caregivers with strollers
  • People who are visually impaired

Summary of Consultation with Project Partners

Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

  • Minimize overall site disturbance and limit amount of new features within the floodplain
  • Minimize filling within the floodplain
  • Avoid impacts to existing natural features
  • Restore/ improve existing habitat
  • Locate new structures away from river banks
  • North Switchback Option preferred

Metrolinx

  • Standard Transport Canada Railway Clearances
  • Potential derail containment structure or barrier (Pier Protection)
  • Consider future electrification

City Maintenance and Operations

  • Accessible route from West side would require future phased connections/ impact on park programming
  • East Side accessibility to be implemented with this project
  • Ongoing maintenance requirements (no winter maintenance)

Past Consultations

July 19, 2018

A Stakeholder Information Meeting was held at Riverdale Library and several stakeholders came out to attend and provide input. The design to date was well received and comments received are helping the project team move further into detailed design. Comments to the project team can best be integrated into the design prior to August 20, 2018.

Summary of Design

A new ramp is planned that will provide easier access to the Lower Don Trail from the Riverdale pedestrian bridge. The ramp will extend off the north side of the bridge, with a switch-back down to the trail. It will complement the existing staircase on the south side of the bridge.

The position of the ramp is between the rail (Bala Metrolinx line) and the Don River.  Based on the constrained site width (between rail and river) there is only one turn to the switch back. The switchback is in the northward direction and has a vista lookout at the turn around point. The existing stairs will remain (south of the bridge).

The sloped path gradient is consistent with the accessibility guidelines for paths of a max 5%. There is a resting area, with an accessible bench at the turnaround.

The ramp will meet existing grade and integrate with the adjacent 4.0 metre wide trail in the existing location.

The width of the ramp is proposed to be a minimum of 3 metre and significantly wider at the turn around (6 plus metres). The maximum height of the ramp where it connects to the bridge is approximately 9 metres, and the distance between the access from the bridge and the outward edge of the turnaround is 113 metres.

The materials to be used will be similar to those used in recently constructed projects in the valley. These are called the Lower Don Valley Palette:

  • Weathering steel
  • Reclaimed timber
  • Native perennial plantings
  • Stone
  • Galvanized steel

February 15, 2017

A special meeting was held with the Community Disability Steering Committee.

June 2, 2015

This was a Riverdale Bridge site visit.

May 27, 2014

This public consultation meeting took place at St Simon the Apostle Church at 525 Bloor Street East.

If you require assistance in understanding these materials, please contact Jason Diceman at 416-338-2830.

The first phase of construction was completed in September 2017 and included:

Pottery Road Bridge and Connection

A new bridge for pedestrians and cyclist to connect the new Pottery Road Trailhead and the new Bayview Avenue Multi-Use Trail at ground level (at-grade) and separated from motorized traffic.

Bayview Avenue Multi-Use Path

On the east side of Bayview Avenue, a new bi-directional trail separated from traffic was installed. The trail is between 3.5-4 metres wide and connects with the existing multi-use trail on Bayview Avenue.Two sections of the trail were installed – from Pottery Road to south of the Brick Works, and from south of Bloor Street to Rosedale Valley Road.

Trail Surface Improvements

A review of existing trail conditions from Pottery Road to Belleville Underpass was carried out. Minor improvements were needed to address safety, circulation, visibility/sight-lines.

Belleville Underpass Realignment

The Belleville underpass was:

  • re-aligned and widened,
  • the grade/slope was reduced
  • sight lines were improved
  • lighting was installed

Wayfinding Pilot

The new signs in the Lower Don Trail represent the first deployment of the new Parks and Trails Wayfinding Strategy. Comments related to the new signs have been forwarded to project managers, who are evaluating this pilot phase over the winter. You can send additional comments to parkwayfinding@toronto.ca.

Riverdale Accessible Ramp

A new ramp is planned that will provide easier access to the Lower Don Trail from the Riverdale pedestrian bridge. The ramp will extend off the north side of the bridge, with a switch-back down to the trail. It will complement the existing staircase on the south side of the bridge.

Background

This project is related to The Lower Don Trail Access, Environment + Art Master Plan (2013).

  • August 2014 Council adopted a motion to undertake further study on potential points of access onto the Lower Don Trail, in particular, the pedestrian bridge joining Riverdale Park East and West
  • 2015 Council Direction for the ramp at Riverdale Pedestrian Bridge

Sloped Path: Design Information

  • Pedestrian and cyclist loading
  • Sloping pathway at continuous 5% slope; not considered a ramp as per Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • 3m clear width
  • Vertical rise 9-10m between the bridge deck and grade
  • The distance between the bridge and the outward edge of the turnaround is approximately 113m.

The materials to be used will be similar to those used in recently constructed projects in the valley. These are called the Lower Don Valley Palette:

  • Weathering steel
  • Reclaimed timber
  • Native perennial plantings
  • Stone
  • Galvanized steel

Opportunities for Input

  • Finish and surfacing materials: ramp deck; upper lookout; switchback lookout; railings; trail; etc.
  • Seating/interpretive opportunities: switchback look-out, below ramp adjoining trail.
  • Aesthetic treatments: concrete wall surfaces; lookouts; benches; existing bridge; pavement markings.
  • Signage and wayfinding: at foot of ramp or bridge
  • Planting: range of native plantings.

We do not have a proposed Phase 2 construction schedule at this time, but for construction updates follow the Lower Don Trail blog.

Planned Phase 2 work includes:

Dundas Street Staircase

The bridge over the Don River at Dundas Street connects the east and west sides of the Don Valley. New stairs from the sidewalk on the bridge to the valley below will be installed. The new staircase will include a bike trough for cyclists to use, to help guide their bikes as they walk up or down the staircase.

Trail Widening and Drainage

The existing trail located between Belleville and Bala underpasses will be widened to 3.5-4 metres (where necessary), resurfaced, along with drainage/flood resilience improvements and minor realignments.

The government of Canada's Canada 150 logo with a graphic of a stylized maple leafThanks to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Project, the Lower Don Trail project had enhancements to the infrastructure work. Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Project funding combined with existing City funds allowed for improvements of a new cycling/pedestrian bridge at Pottery Road and reconstruction of the rail underpass north of the Riverdale Pedestrian bridge. These improvements improve active recreation through this area.

The word 'evergreen' in green textPhase 1 enhancements to the Lower Don Trail were also generously funded in part by donations from Evergreen.