Wilket Creek Rehabilitation Project

The purpose of the Wilket Creek Rehabilitation Project is to protect public infrastructure and mitigate erosion and flooding while enhancing Wilket Creek’s ecosystem.

The project follows a long-term rehabilitation plan focused on enhancing channel stability and ecological integrity of the system in an economical and sustainable manner and in accordance with the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process.

 

Project Map

Zoom in and click on the coloured lines on the map to see reaches, project sites and project details.

Learn More About the Project

 


Current News – June 2018
Notice of Project Commencement for Wilket Creek Reach 2 (Phase 2)

Construction within the first phase of Wilket Creek Reach 2 is now complete, and construction staff are now preparing to begin the second phase of the work. This phase will complete all currently planned construction activities for the Wilket Creek Rehabilitation Project within Wilket Creek Park. Work is anticipated to be completed by December 2018, with restoration of the path and tree plantings to follow as weather permits. Please review the Notice of Construction Sign and Trail Closure Information Map for additional information.

 

 


Master Plan

In accordance with the Environmental Assessment Act, the Wilket Creek Channel within Wilket Creek Park Rehabilitation Study to Address Erosion Hazards Threatening Infrastructure and Wilket Creek Geomorphic Systems Master Plan (hereon in referred to as the Master Plan) was completed as a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA), the prescribed process for projects of this nature.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) on behalf of the City of Toronto, completed the study to assess the geomorphic systems of the Wilket Creek subwatershed in order to develop a long-term strategy to address erosion hazards to municipal lands and infrastructure.

Between 2011 and 2015, emergency repairs at the three critical sites within Wilket Creek Park were carried out to safeguard municipal infrastructure while the overall strategy was being developed. The Master Plan was completed in March of 2015.

Planning Mechanism for the Undertaking

The project followed the planning and design process prescribed in the MCEA for Schedule “B” projects. The intent was to develop a Master Plan for long-term remediation of the entire watercourse.

The Class EA requirements for the development of a Master Plan are as follows:

  • Phase 1: Definition of the Problem(s);
  • Phase 2: Identification and Assessment of Alternative Solutions;

These phases identify the potential negative and positive effects of the implementation of the project and review a number of solutions. TRCA documented the decision making process and the value judgments made in selecting the best solution. A detailed Master Plan report was developed upon completion of the study; the report includes all background information, technical analyses, community involvement, a list of the solutions and the analysis of each.

The Master Plan was available for review and comments for a thirty-day period from February 19, 2015 to March 21, 2015 and remains in two libraries permanently for public review. These libraries are; The Locke Library at 3083 Yonge Street and the North York Civic Center at 5120 Yonge Street. The report is also available for download in sections at the bottom of this page.

The MCEA process prescribes that all views be taken into consideration during the planning and design phases of the project. A comprehensive contact list was comprised of concerned citizens, local interest groups, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. These groups received project information and provided comment as the project progressed. Public Information Centres were held to provide detailed information regarding the study, obtain feedback on the evaluation of alternative options and the development of long-term remedial measures, address any concerns and recommend long-term solutions prior to finalizing the study.

Public Notices

Public Information Meetings

  Master Plan Documents

Reference:

Parish Aquatic Services. 2015. Wilket Creek Channel within Wilket Creek Park Rehabilitation Study to Address Erosion Hazards Threatening Infrastructure and Wilket Creek Geomorphic Systems Master Plan. Submitted to: Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Toronto Water, City of Toronto.


Project Background

The Wilket Creek subwatershed of the Don River

Wilket Creek is a second order tributary to the West Don River, it has a drainage area of 15.5 km2. The northern portion of the channel south to York Mills Road was turned into a series of piped systems during the area’s development in the 1940s and 1950s. South of York Mills Road the creek is an open channel for approximately 4.5 km, ending at its confluence with the West Don River.

About 80% of the Don River watershed is urbanized and 100% of the Wilket Creek subwatershed is urbanized. The southern portion of Wilket Creek is one of the few remaining open channel tributaries in the Don River catchment area. Of the remaining open flow tributaries; Wilket Creek, Taylor Massey Creek and Burke Brook have sustained some of the longest and most dramatic hydrological changes due to urbanization in all of Southern Ontario.

Creeks under Stress

Wilket Creek has no major tributaries; it receives water from overland flow, drainage pipes, storm sewers and some ground water. The buried catchment area north of York Mills Road to Steeles is old and densely urbanized with few to no natural or stormwater management controls. As such, flows in the creek rise and fall rapidly following precipitation. This “flashy” nature of the watercourse results in destabilizing the natural system through excessive erosion. In order for the system to balance itself, rapid and precarious adjustments to the creek accommodate for the increased flows. Destabilizing adjustments to the watercourse can include:

  • increased cross sectional area of the channel
  • down-cutting into the channel bed
  • increased sediment loads due to the erosion
  • changes to typical channel characteristics such as meandering patterns
  • decreased quality and quantity of habitat
  • degraded water quality
  • loss of riparian vegetation (MOE, 2003)

Wilket Creek is experiencing all of the above types of watercourse degradation.

Erosion in Wilket Creek

Because of its rapid degradation a number of erosion control measures have been implemented in Wilket Creek over the years. Primarily, old fashioned, conventional engineering controls like hardened (concrete) beds and banks, rip rap, gabion baskets and armour stone have been used. These structures often exacerbate erosion downstream or around the structure itself. Additionally, the ecologic integrity of the system has suffered, severely degrading aquatic and riparian habitat in eroded areas.

In the late 1950’s the North York sanitary trunk sewer system was built within the Wilket Creek valley, crossing under the watercourse in several locations along its length. Where the watercourse and sanitary lines intersected, the pipe was encased in concrete. As result of creek destabilization there are multiple sites where the encasement was exposed, one site where the concrete has been eroded exposing the pipe, and a few locations where the pipe is exposed due to migration of the watercourse.

Exposed pipe and concrete encasement in wilket creek
Exposed pipe and concrete encasement in wilket creek. (Source: TRCA, 2012)

Other erosion hazards exist within the subwatershed including; degraded public walking paths, under-sized and degraded pedestrian bridges, outflanked manhole chimneys and increased riparian-tree hazards. Mitigating these hazards and preventing future hazards and further ecological degradation are the primary reasons for the ongoing work within the Park.

References:

Ministry of Environment, Ontario (MOE). 2003.Ontario Ministry of Environment Stormwater Management Planning and Design Manual.

History of the Wilket Creek Rehabilitation Project

The Wilket Creek tributary of the West Don River was one of the watercourses that suffered a significant amount of damage as a result of the August 19, 2005 severe weather event. The City of Toronto retained TRCA in 2007 to manage, design and implement large-scale restoration works within Edwards Gardens and to complete 10 repair projects focused on infrastructure protection and public safety.

Shortly following completion of the Edwards Gardens restoration work, another severe storm event hit the Toronto area on June 23, 2008, damaging three of the sites recently repaired. It was evident by this point that a comprehensive study and rehabilitation plan was required to provide long-term protection for municipal infrastructure and public safety within Wilket Creek Park.

Post 2005 storm damage
Post 2005 storm damage. (Source: TRCA, 2005)

In 2009, Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation (PF&R) and Toronto Water identified multi-year funding commencing in 2010 for the completion of a Master Plan MCEA. TRCAs role was to manage the project on the City’s behalf, including the implementation of any works recommended.

Following an initial assessment by Parish Geomorphic, the consulting firm was retained by TRCA to assist with the study and design components of the project; three areas within Wilket Creek Park were identified as requiring immediate attention due to the risk to municipal infrastructure and/or public safety. These sites are referred to as Site 3, Site 6 and Site 7 in the Master Plan.

Map of all reaches and sub-project sites within Wilket Creek Park
Map of all reaches and sub-project sites within Wilket Creek Park. (Source: TRCA, 2015)

Given the anticipated length of time required to complete the study phase, the repair of Sites 3, 6 and 7 were recommended to be expedited as emergency works, with the understanding that the designs for these sites would be in alignment with the overall strategy in the Master Plan. Because of the scale of the proposed work, the emergency works were broken up into a number of phases to be undertaken within a 5 year plan. Emergency works repairs were completed in December of 2015.


Past Project Phases

Reach 1

Reach 1 Channel Improvements (Formerly Phase IV Emergency Works)

Reach 1 extends from the confluence of Wilket Creek with the West Don River upstream to the most southerly pedestrian bridge. The 480 metres (m) of watercourse that make up Reach 1 is broken up into three work sites: Site 1, Site 2 and Site 3 Phase 2.

For the past 2 years, TRCA and City of Toronto have been working within Reach 1 to protect sanitary and park infrastructure which was at risk due to erosion. The emergency works involved widening and re-aligning the creek to allow for greater flow capacity; bank and bed protection which will stabilize the creek and mitigate the erosive forces that are considered hazardous to Wilket Creek’s ecological integrity. Trail improvements were completed in the spring of 2016 and included raising the path elevation to decrease path flooding.

Reach 2

Reach 2 Channel Improvements

Reach 2 starts at the most southerly bridge in Wilket Creek Park and extends upstream 858 metres (m) to near the north park entrance from Leslie Street. The Reach is broken up into hazard areas known as: Site 3 Phase 1 (completed, formerly Phase III Emergency Works) and Site 4, Site 5 and Site 6 Phase 2 which are still pending.

Site 3 Phase 1 work was completed in 2013 and included the installation of a new 30 m pedestrian bridge, channel widening and re-alignment to move the watercourse away from the steep valley wall.

The remaining sites were all considered under the overarching Reach 2 detailed designs, which were developed for this entire portion of the creek. The designs were divided into two phases for construction logistics. Phase 1 is now complete, and Phase 2 is anticipated to be completed by December 2018.

See Current Project Phases for more information on the current work ongoing at Reach 2.

Reach 3

Reach 3 Channel Improvements (Formerly Phase I & II Emergency Works)

Reach 3 begins near the northern park entrance off Leslie Street extending upstream 640 metres (m) to the southern limit of Edwards Gardens. The reach contains Sites 6 Phase 1, Site 7 and Site 8. Emergency works were completed in Sites 6 Phase 1 and Site 7 in 2011 to 2012 to repair erosion hazards to the sanitary infrastructure. At this time, channel improvements were implemented to widen and re-align the creek away from the eroding valley walls. A 30 m pedestrian bridge replaced an undersized and degraded wood bridge and a 60 m concrete boardwalk was added to allow for the natural re-generation of a wetland area.

Works in Site 8 are pending the availability of funding and not scheduled at this time.

Reach 4

Reach 4 Restoration Works

A number of improvements were completed in Edwards Gardens in 2006-2007 to repair areas degraded by the storm events of 2005 and 2006.

Repair work within the reach included; channel widening and stabilization, bridge replacements and park path improvements.

Proposed long-term improvements were recommended in the Master Plan and include; sanitary sewer protection, removal of weirs which act as fish barriers, further channel widening in constrained areas. The long-term improvements will also seek to replace existing gabion baskets (wire baskets filled with stone which rust and degrade over time) with bioengineered bank stabilization, which uses a combination of engineering and specially selected vegetation to help stabilize the bank.

Proposed improvements are pending the availability of funding and are not scheduled at this time.


Current Project Phases

Reach 2

Reach 2 starts at the most southerly pedestrian bridge in Wilket Creek Park and extends upstream 858 metres (m) to near the north park entrance from Leslie Street. The Reach is broken up into hazard areas known as: Site 3 Phase 1, Site 4, Site 5 and Site 6 Phase 2. See the interactive map on the project’s main page for the location of Reach 2 (bright green) within the park.

The designs for this Reach were broken up into two phases. The first phase involved completion of the southern portion of the designs, and was completed in spring 2018. The second phase involves the completion of the northern portion of the creek, and is currently scheduled to be completed by December 2018, with site restoration to follow in the spring.

See Completed Project Phases for the Site 3 Phase 1 work which is located in Reach 2 and was completed in 2013


Future Project Phases

Reach 5

Reach 5 Erosion Control Work

Reach 5 is located north of Lawrence Avenue extending up stream to the first storm outfall draining stormwater run-off from Alderbrook Drive. The entire Reach 5 valley corridor is located on private properties. Historically, Reach 5 has experienced substantial erosion which has posed a serious risk to the sanitary trunk sewer that crosses the creek in multiple locations within the Reach.

In December of 2015, City of Toronto conducted interim emergency works in the creek to protect an exposed portion of the sanitary trunk sewer. Future, planned works include channel widening and re-alignment to further protect the sanitary trunk sewer where erosion has caused degradation, undercutting, and exposure of the pipe and pipe encasement. In addition, debris jamming has long been an issue in this reach, posing a flooding risk to homeowners near the Lawrence Avenue culvert; the channel improvements are anticipated to relieve this issue.

TRCA is currently in the planning stages of this work, including obtaining permits and approvals, collecting background data and reviewing preliminary designs. Implementation of works is not scheduled at this time.


Contact Us

The Wilket Creek Rehabilitation Project Planning Team is located at TRCA’s Boyd Field Centre Office in Vaughan:

Restoration and Infrastructure Division, Erosion Risk Management
9755 Canada Company Avenue
Vaughan, Ontario
L4H 0A3

Contacts:

Nivedha Sundararajah, Project Manager
nsundararajah@trca.on.ca
416-661-6600 ext 5528

Natasha Gibson, Project Coordinator
ngibson@trca.on.ca
416-661-6600 ext 5531

Alex Barber, Environmental Technician
abarber@trca.on.ca
416-661-6600 ext 5388