By Joanna Lavoie, Toronto.com
December 18, 2019
Toronto has launched the largest and most significant stormwater management program in its history.
On Saturday, Dec. 14, boring officially began on the new Coxwell Bypass Tunnel, which is the first stage of the $3-billion Don River and Central Waterfront Wet Weather Flow System. This multi-year project is one of five connected initiatives being done to improve water quality in the Lower Don River, Taylor-Massey Creek, and along the Inner Harbour. The plan is to keep combined sewer outflow out of the city’s waterways by upgrading technology and the capacity to capture, transport and treat outflow.
The new Coxwell Bypass Tunnel will have a diameter of 6.3 metres and a length of 10.5 kilometres. The boring machine, which is 115 metres long, can excavate at least 20 metres of the tunnel per day.
A 1,000-tonne boring machine named Donnie is digging the underground passage, which will be located 50 metres below ground and parallel to the Don River.
Donnie will dig its way westward along Lake Shore Boulevard East to the Don Roadway, north up the Don River valley to the North Toronto Treatment Plant, and then eastward to the Coxwell Ravine Park shaft site where the tunnel ends.
Designed to capture, store and transport overflow rainwater and sewage for treatment at the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant, the tunnel is expected to be completed by 2024.
“The grand scale of the tunnel boring machine makes you realize the incredible scope and complexity of this project. I’m delighted to be here today to mark this momentous next step in a project that will bring considerable benefits in cleaning up Toronto’s waterways and aquatic habitat and enhancing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors,” said Scarborough-Rouge River Coun. Jennifer McKelvie — who is also the vice chair of the city’s infrastructure and environment committee — at the launch event.
York Centre Coun. James Pasternak, the chair of the infrastructure and environment committee, said an important milestone has been reached with Donnie’s arrival.
“Years of planning, engineering and design will soon be realized as Donnie gets digging to create what will be a significant piece of infrastructure,” he said in a release.
“This project will be of critical importance to our growing city and will improve the quality of Toronto’s waterways, which will benefit generations to come.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said the project is “of great importance to our city and the future of our waterways” and vowed to secure assistance from the federal and provincial government to speed up the work.
Further, Coun. Paula Fletcher, who represents Toronto-Danforth, said the Coxwell Bypass Tunnel is “part of the forward-thinking solution to the complex problem of improving the quality of Toronto’s waterways.”
“While this work is part of a longer-term connected system, the benefits will be well worth the wait,” she said.