Friday, January 02, 2009

Don Watcher Predictions for 2009

Predicting the future is always fraught with peril but I think I can make a few educated guesses about what might happen this year. I won't be forecasting any big events. There's always the possibility of some mother of a storm causing all sorts of bad things but these are are hard to predict. What I can say with some certainty is that work will proceed on some projects. At least one project will finish, some other projects will continue through the year and one or two more will get started.

West Don Lands. I expect that the "flood protection landform" or berm that is currently being constructed south of Queen will be finished this year. I predict an official opening of Don River Park (which will be situated on top of the berm) will happen fall 2009. Construction of the West Don Lands neighbourhood will likely begin in 2010.

Don River Mouth. The Environmental Assessment will finally be completed this year. It's been a long haul since 2005 but full EAs are expected to last this long. What will happen after the TRCA hands in its final report is anybody's guess. Some rumours circulating now predict that funding for this project have been diverted to other priorities so work may not begin until 2014.

Coxwell Trunk and Don River Stormwater Diversion. This one has a lot of names only because it is a colossal project. Basically the city wants to build a huge holding tank underneath the DVP similar to the ones underneath the eastern and western beaches. This one will capture stormwater currently running directly into the river. If that's not enough, they're also tackling a sewer replacement as well. This project wants to 'twin' one of the of the main conduits of Toronto sewage. This sewer is a single pipe running deep underneath Coxwell Avenue. It collects all the sewage for 750,000 Torontonians and funnels it to the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant. This one was expected to be a multi-year project but may be fast-tracked. It was reported in the news this week that an investigation within the sewer revealed cracks in the inner lining of the pipe. The pipe is approximately 50m underground so it will be very difficult to ascertain the extent of the damage. However, a failure of this pipe would be catastrophic since there is no alternate route. A failure would start dumping millions of litres of raw sewage directly into the Don River.

Don Watershed Plan. The TRCA will release its plan for the Don Watershed. Parts of the plan are currently available in draft form. This is a mammoth undertaking that hasn't received a lot of press. I'm going to try and review parts of the draft this year since I expect to have more free time to spend on Don issues.

So there's a rundown on what I expect to see for 2009. Of course there all sorts of other interesting events going which I am sure I will get to throughout the year. Some of my guesses for 2008 turned out to be pretty close to the mark but we will have to wait another year to see how these pan out.

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