Final Phase 1 Update

Mayor Tory riding over Pottery Road bridge

This is the final post for the Lower Don Construction Blog related to the Phase 1 improvements on the trail, which are now substantially complete with the reopening of the trail on September 23, 2017.

Thank you for following and contributing.

Here are some final updates, forward-looking comments, and ways you can continue to follow trail news and interact with us…


Rail crossing at Pottery Road

Many of you have provided valuable insights into the rail crossing by the new Pottery Road trail bridge.

  • Thanks to your comments, this spring, new pavement markings will be applied to the trail leading up to the crossing as well as warning signage adjacent to the trail. The markings, saying “CAUTION [Rail symbol] CROSSING,” will alert riders to the crossing ahead.
  • We are also working with Metrolinx to re-examine the P-gate arrangement at the crossing to see if further improvements can be made at this location.
  • Pavement markings will also be added to the trail in both directions leading up to the new Belleville Underpass, to alert riders to the tunnel and slight trail curve.


Wayfinding Pilot

The new signs in the Lower Don Trail represent the first deployment of the new Parks and Trails Wayfinding system. 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


Phase 2, Lower Don Trail improvements

Planned Phase 2 work on the Lower Don Trail includes:

Riverdale Ramp:

A new accessible ramp will connect the Riverdale footbridge to the trail below. Staff is in the final stages of completing design and feasibility studies on such issues as floodplain hydrology with our partners at Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. We’ll be providing project updates on our other communications platforms, see below.

Dundas Street staircase and Trail Improvements between Riverdale footbridge and Don Landing/Corktown Common:

Design work has been completed and tender documents prepared. Construction is currently not funded, though staff is working on securing funding for this important work. Announcements, including timing, will be made on our other platforms.


Sorry, we do not have a proposed Phase 2 construction schedule at this time, but we are working on it.  We anticipate updates to this blog with general information on Phase 2 timelines by spring.


Lessons learned

Lessons learned on Phase 1 projects will be incorporated into Phase 2 planning and sequencing. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Working with other jurisdictions in the Lower Don to compress the permit application process, which added a considerable amount of time to Phase 1 projects
  • In common with other critical transportation infrastructure projects, working with contractors and stakeholders to improve timeline forecasting and set appropriate schedules that minimize inconvenience and the length of any necessary trail closures
  • Creating better detour options and more robust communications around those options and around project progress.


Maintenance, flooding, vandalism

The Lower Don Trail is located in an active floodplain and conditions change. Please report any flooding or maintenance issues, including vandalism, to 311. You can call 311, email or tweet @311toronto.


Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issues flood alerts. Visit for current conditions and alerts.


Keeping in touch

There are many other ways to stay in touch with us.

  • If you subscribed to this blog and supplied your email address, you’ll receive Phase 2 updates. You can opt out at any time.
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive Lower Don Trail project and programming updates, along with news about the new Council-approved Ravine Strategy and other news from Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
  • You can call 311 with specific inquiries or concerns.

Thank you.

Lower Don Trail is Open!

After (way too many) months of a frustrating trail closure, the City is happy to announce the Lower Don Trail is now open again for your enjoyment and travel!

Belleville Underpass – Before and After

The section of the Lower Don Trail that was closed was south of Pottery Road to Riverdale Park Bridge.  You can now bike, walk, run, and roll through this section and continue on north and south.    Below is a gallery of photos of some of the completed upgrades, including the new Pottery Road trail bridge, Belleville rail underpass,  Bayview multiuse connection, and new signs,  art,  seating , and surface repairs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thank you, to everyone, for your patience as we completed this work.

Join us on September 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate!  Ravine Days events on the Lower Don will include food, games, activities, and music at three stops: the Cloverleaf, Riverdale Park East, and the Don Landing. Bring yoga mats for free yoga at Riverdale.

All Ravine Day activities are listed at

See you on the trails!

Lower Don Trail to reopen September 23, as part of Ravine Days

Final paving of affected trail segments, especially at Pottery Road and the Belleville Underpass, is scheduled to take place the week of September 18. This section of the trail is currently closed and will be used by heavy equipment during this time. Please stay off the closed portion of the trail, between Riverdale footbridge and Pottery Road, until the reopening on September 23.  Paid-duty police officers will be on site to control access.


Pottery 1

Pottery Road: Landscaping, including new post-and-rail fencing and new plantings, is in place prior to final paving of the trail connecting the Lower Don Trail over the new Pottery Road bridge to the Bayview Multi-Use Trail.


Belleville Underpass: Works crews complete final grading before landscaping and paving of this section of the Lower Don Trail. It tunnels under the currently inactive rail line at the new Belleville Underpass. This section of the trail is closed and being used by heavy equipment until September 23.


The Lower Don Trail reopening will include:

  • New connection to the Bayview Multi-Use Trail over the new Pottery Road trail bridge
  • New, wider, safer trail tunnel at the Belleville Underpass
  • New art installations in the Lower Don Parklands, just north of the Bloor Viaduct, in partnership with Evergreen
  • New trail signage as part of the Parks and Trails Wayfinding Pilot.

The reopening is part of Ravine Days, a weekend of events planned for September 23 and 24. Residents and visitors are invited to celebrate and enjoy Toronto’s beautiful ravine network during Ravine Days. Featured events include:

  • Activities along the Lower Don Trail
  • Launch of Evergreen’s new Don River Valley Park Art Program in Lower Don Trail
  • Harvest Day at the Toronto Botanical Garden
  • Harvest Festival at Todmorden Mills
  • Tree Planting in Cedarvale Park

On September 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ravine Days events on the Lower Don will include food, games, activities, and music at three stops: the Cloverleaf, Riverdale Park East, and the Don Landing. Bring yoga mats for free yoga at Riverdale.

All Ravine Day activities are listed at

Ravine Days will coincide with the presentation of the Ravine Strategy to City Council’s Executive Committee for approval on September 26, and subsequently to City Council on October 2-4. The final strategy will build on the draft principles that were released for public feedback in June 2016, and will provide a framework for collaboration between City divisions and agencies moving forward.

Thank you again for your patience as we worked through many issues during construction to arrive at this important moment in the history of the Lower Don Trail.

We hope to see you September 23 and onwards. Enjoy the trail!


Upgraded Trail to be Reopened Mid-September, Pending 3rd Party Work


Metrolinx has issued permits for third-party work required before City contractors can complete the trail work. The third-party work includes a cable utility relocation at the new Belleville Underpass, and the trail crossing over the active rail line by the new Pottery Road trail bridge. The rail crossing work can only happen on weekends due to weekday commuter rail traffic.

Meanwhile, City contractors are assembling all the plant material and new soil required for site restoration and enhancements, ready to mobilize when the third-party providers have completed their work in the next few weeks. Re-grading and paving the affected portions of trail will be the last step.

Plans are coming together for a re-opening event and celebration of Toronto’s ravines in September. It will be announced here, and we hope you will join us to ride, walk, and enjoy the new connections and underpass.

An Update from Parks Construction Manager

Key Message: Trail will open soon, pending 3rd party utility re-location. Final construction work will continue into September.

Dear Trail Users

I understand your frustration on this project. We are working to get this trail open as soon as possible. When we reopen, the safety of this trail, its surfaces, connection to the Bayview multi-use trail and the visitor experience will be greatly improved, but I realize it is hard to take comfort in these improvements while the trail remains closed.

Currently, we are waiting for a third-party utility that runs across the trail to be relocated so that final grades are acceptable for cyclists and do not impose a hazard. While this relocation is not the last of the work to be done, we expect that the trail will open after this work is completed. Additional safety protocols will be established to allow the final construction work to be completed while the trail remains open.

The Lower Don Trail is a major spine in the utility infrastructure of this city. Three high-pressure oil pipelines, a gas line, as well as a major high-speed fibre optic line are all hidden in the trail alignment. On top of this is the visible utility infrastructure of electrical corridors and two rail corridors, all sandwiched within this green oasis of a recreational trail. As a result, there is very little working room between the rail, Don Valley Parkway and the river.

Unusual high water and heavy rain this season has also affected the productivity of crews working in tight proximity to the river. Water levels of the Lower Don overflowed the banks in several areas of the project more than once this year, causing flooding in our work areas.

I do want to clarify the status on the permits required and the timing of the applications. The City consulted with both Metrolinx and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) about requirements and permits through the design process beginning in 2014.  TRCA permits were completed in one step. Metrolinx requires permits be completed in a sequential process for each stage of work, as each stage is completed.  Each submission takes several weeks to review and process and some of these permits have required several submissions. The most recent permit is a final re-submission for the last of 15 Metrolinx permits, which includes those needed by third-party utilities to relocate within the corridor as part of the project as well. This is the process for all Metrolinx permits for these types of projects.

There have been lessons learned in the permit review and approval process that will be applied to the next stage of Lower Don work, and indeed all future trail work. Also, I am working with staff to improve how we plan and communicate trail detours to reduce the effect on trail users. This work includes ensuring contractors are better able to safely maintain, to the fullest extent possible, public access to trails and public facilities during construction.

We look forward to the reopening and we hope you will attend the formal celebration of the improved trail later in the fall.


Daniel McLaughlin

Manager, Construction Management & Capital Projects

Parks Development and Capital Projects

Parks Forestry and Recreation

Aiming to Reopen Trail in July – Date to be Determined

The City is in the final stages of work to reopen the improved section of Lower Don Trail between Pottery Road and the Riverdale Parks Bridge.

flooded tunnel

Record rainfall has caused intermittent flooding, slowing progress. Here, contractors inspect the completed Belleville trail underpass structure.



Bala Track removed

Tracks Removed:  The rail bed on top of the Underpass, before laying the new track ballast and rails.


train tracks over underpass

Tracks Replaced: City contractors have replaced the rail line above the Belleville underpass and largely completed the earthworks around the new structure.


In recent weeks, here’s what’s been completed:

  • The rail line above the new Belleville trail underpass has been replaced, which is a Metrolinx requirement for potential future use of the rail corridor
  • Earthwork around the new underpass is almost finished, despite the wet soil conditions
  • Work has been completed for some of the necessary engineering features at the new Pottery Road trail bridge as well as railings on bridge approaches
  • Drainage improvements have been made to minimize flooding risk within the Belleville Underpass
  • Seating circle has been created at Pottery Road Trailhead


big square rock being movedContractors have been able to incorporate old foundation stones unexpectedly found at the Belleville Underpass site into the new earthworks shoring up the tunnel


Here is what’s left to do as of this posting date:

  • City contractors await Metrolinx permits for the final trail connection over the rail line at the new Pottery Road trail bridge, connecting the trail to the new, completed Bayview multi-use trail
  • City contractors await Metrolinx permits to reinstate utilities at the Belleville underpass, a requirement before the trail can be paved in that section
  • Soil quality and environmental approvals are pending to ensure the topsoil on site is appropriate for the plant material and meets the specifications of the contract
  • Asphalt installation and resurfacing from Pottery Road to the Belleville underpass
  • Planting of native species and other landscaping elements
  • Installation of new trail signs and surfacing associated with sign approach areas and seating area at Pottery Road


high water in river

Rising water levels in the adjacent Don River from record rainfalls have challenged construction work.

Higher than normal rainfalls causing flooding have delayed some work.

Assuming enough favourable weather and permit approvals from our partners, we are optimistic the trail can be safely reopened in July. Stay tuned to this blog for announcements.

Until the trail is opened, please do not trespass past the fences.  Along with construction area dangers, there has been flooding in this section of trail, as there have been extreme weather events, with water levels far above normal for this time of year.

Thank you again for your ongoing patience.

April 2017 Construction to Resume – Trail to Remain Closed to July

With above zero temperatures now the norm, construction crews will be returning to the work site on the Lower Don Trail next week. To facilitate the construction traffic in a safe manner, the section of trail between Pottery Road and Riverdale Park Bridge will remain closed until July 2017.

For trail users looking to connect to the trail north or south of the closure, the recommended detour remains via Broadview Avenue (view detour map).

We apologize for this extreme ongoing inconvenience, but unfortunately the contractors and City project team were previously overly optimistic with the date for re-opening the trail in the spring.  City staff have pressed for the trail to be reopened as soon as possible, but with public safety concerns on site, July remains the projected date for reopening.

Belleville Rail Underpass tunnel

Belleville Rail Underpass tunnel in progress

On the positive side, major works have been accomplished, such as the installation of the trail bridge at Pottery Road, and more recently the main concrete work for the Belleville Rail Underpass tunnel.

The next tasks will include large amounts of soil movement for grading and drainage works.  After this, crews will be planting, repairing sections of trail, paving, top soil placement, grading and seeding.

The City is also looking forward to required works by Metrolinx related to their rail crossing, to allow for the connection of the trail across the new Pottery Road bridge to the new Bayview multi-use trail to Rosedale Valley Road.

We can’t wait to post an update this summer celebrating the opening of this much improved section of the Toronto’s fantastic ravine trail network.  Thank you again for your patience.

Learn more about the Lower Don Trail Improvements at


Trail Still Closed – Concrete Work in Progress

498406322.jpgUnfortunately Lower Don Trail will remain closed between Pottery Road and Riverdale Park Bridge in to spring 2017.

This extended closure is caused by unforeseen underground site conditions and challenges with 3rd party existing infrastructure in the work zone.

Heavy concrete trucks are travelling in the work area now. Please respect the trail closure that is in place for your own safety. See recommend detour route map via Broadview Ave below or at this link .

The new Bayview Ave multi-use trail is now passable from Pottery Road to Rosedale Valley Road, which makes a good alternate route connecting west to the Brick Works, The Beltline Trail or into the city.

More update information…

The project team has been hard at work on the Belleville Rail Underpass portion of the project.  Sub-grade works have been complete with the placement of the final caisson and the advancement to the structure works.  The footing concrete and associated rebar have been placed with our crews working on forming the accompanying wingwalls and retaining walls.

At the Pottery Road segment of work, contractors have been excavating and grading the pathway connection from Bayview to the new Pottery Structure.  They are coordinating with the railway to create an appropriate at-grade crossing plan. Please note the new trail bridge is not yet open.

Please be reminded that construction activities and the associated truck traffic pose a risk to the public.  We have to stress that all parties respect the trail closure that is in place as it is for the safety of the public.  Unfortunately, it has been observed that some individuals choose to disregard the signage, fencing, site personnel and closure.  The act of disregarding this closure can pose a risk not only to yourself but to others as well.

See recommend detour route map via Broadview Ave below.  Bayview Multi-use trail is also now passable from Pottery Road to Rosedale Valley Rd.

Lower Don Construction Areas and Detour Map

Pottery Rd. Reopened Sunday after New Trail Bridge Installed Ahead of Schedule

Pottery Road is open again to vehicles and pedestrians ahead of schedule following the successful installation of the new trail bridge on Saturday.


Thanks to some professional crane operators, great project team work, and follow through on commitments by Mother Nature, the new pedestrian-cycling bridge is now in place and the weekend construction area closures have been removed.  Thank you, trail users and motorists, for your patience.
Trail users can again connect to the Lower Don Trail north of Pottery Road to Beechwood and also to the trails in Crothers Woods.  Sorry, but the Lower Don Trail, south of Pottery Road, will remain closed in to late fall for the challenging construction of the Belleville Underpass.
The new Pottery Road bridge itself will not be open until connecting pathways are completed – stay tuned to this blog!
The new bridge will connect the Lower Don Trail to the new Bayview Multi-use trail, separated from the roadway with a guide rail, now under construction (see drawings on panel #12 under Phase 1 Construction on the project web page)
We hope you all have a delightful Sunday!

Pottery Rd. & Trail Closures August 27-28 for New Trail Bridge (more details)

[Update August 28: Pottery Rd. Reopened Sunday after New Trail Bridge Installed Ahead of Schedule]

This weekend, Pottery Road is closed and the Lower Don Trail is closed to and from Pottery Road going north and south.  That means no trail access south of Beechwood Drive/Don Mills through to Riverdale Park. Please avoid this area.

Access from the trails in Crothers Woods to and from Pottery Road will also be closed. 

See map and more details below…Aug 27 2016 Pottery Closures

The good news:

The Pottery Road new pedestrian/cycling bridge is being placed the weekend of August 27-28! It will connect the new Bayview Avenue multi-use trail, now under construction, to the Lower Don Trail as part of Lower Don Trail improvements.


The bad news:

Bridge installation requires the following closures the weekend of Aug. 27-28:


Pottery Road:

Pottery Road between Bayview Avenue and Broadview Avenue will be closed to all through traffic the weekend of August 27-28, beginning 6 a.m. Saturday. Local access only to Fantasy Farms and Todmorden Mills will be maintained from Broadview Avenue.

Cyclists coming down Pottery Road from Broadview will not be able to connect to the Lower Don Trail. Same goes for pedestrians, skateboarders, incline skates, and uni-cyclists. Sorry.


Lower Don Trail, north of Pottery Road:

The trail will be closed south of Beechwood Drive/Don Mills. Any trail user arriving at Pottery Road will be turned back up the trail. There is no exit during construction.


Lower Don Trail, south of Pottery Road:

This portion of the trail is already closed, from Pottery to Riverdale Park, for continuing work on the new Belleville Underpass tunnel.


Crothers Woods Trail, north of Pottery Road:

The trail will be closed at the top of the hill leading down to Pottery Road. Any trail users arriving at Pottery Road will be turned back up the trail. There is no exit during construction.


The Worse News:

Unfortunately the closure on Lower Don Trail, south of Pottery Road, will be extended in to late fall.  The complications in constructing the Belleville Underpass tunnel continue to be a serious challenge for our construction contractors.  I know, this is really  frustrating and annoying.

As a positive distraction,  try the new Bloor Street bike lanes, which we just installed!   Ya! Let’s just talk about Bloor, right?   (sigh)