Issues & Challenges – Don River

Addressing the issues and challenges of the Don River follow three principles – Protect what is healthy, regenerate what is degraded, and take responsibility for the Don.

Due to intense urbanization and the increase in paved surfaces throughout the Don River watershed, there are fewer opportunities for stormwater to seep into the soil or be taken up by vegetation. Therefore much of the stormwater runs off the surface into the Don River resulting in streambank erosion and increased flooding during storm events. Combined sewers (carrying both stormwater and sanitary sewage) still exist in Toronto. Excessive runoff from large storm events can cause these sewers to overflow into the river, affecting water quality.

Protect what is healthy


  • Protect and enhance natural heritage features when opportunities arise, while planning for urban intensification and increased pressure by multiple recreational uses. Efforts must also be made to protect and restore the deteriorating urban tree canopy.
  • Stem the spread of invasive terrestrial and aquatic species through the watershed and attempt to control those that have gained a foothold.

Regenerate what is degraded

soil erosion

  • Ensure the naturalization of the mouth of the Don River is adequately funded to restore the natural heritage features and reclaim vacant industrial lands for parkland and new neighbourhoods.
  • Manage stormwater to moderate flows in the river and maintain baseflow levels, while minimizing destructive flood conditions and reducing erosion.
  • Reduce the flow of contaminants carried into the river by urban runoff, storm sewer and combined sewer outfalls, leaking historic landfills, and other sources, through a mix of pollution incentives, remediation projects, and restrictions on the use of toxic, stable, and bioaccumulative chemicals.

Take responsibility for the Don

Community planting

  • Secure stable, long-term funding for infrastructure renewal, watershed management, land acquisition, and regeneration and protection efforts from both public and private sources.