TRCA Subject Matter Experts Support the Success of IAGLR 2023

May 15, 2023, Toronto, ON — From Monday May 8 to Friday May 12, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) welcomed hundreds of scientists, researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders from around the world to the annual International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) conference.

This year, TRCA co-hosted the event with Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) at the Hilton Toronto in the core of downtown Toronto.

Attendees were treated to a generous offering of opportunities to learn about the latest research, innovations, and experiences to feed their curiosity and support their efforts to address our common environmental challenges.

subject matter experts gather in Toronto in May 2023 for the International Association of Great Lakes Research IAGLR conference
Researchers, policymakers, stakeholders, and more gathered in Toronto from May 8-12 for the International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) conference, co-hosted by TRCA and Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU).

For the 66th edition, focused on the theme of Adapting to Climate Change, the conference featured advancements for cultivating resilience in our ecosystems, impactful approaches to management and assessment, and best practices in mobilizing science.

TRCA’s subject matter experts were among the important presenters at the event and shared their valuable knowledge and experiences, guiding attendees step-by-step through their work and discoveries regarding the following topics:

  • Developing a Nature-based Climate Solutions Siting Tool for the Toronto Region:
    • Andrew Chin spoke about his work with TRCA colleagues Sharon Lam, Aidin Akbari, Namrata Shrestha, and Jonathan Ruppert to develop the Nature-Based Climate Solutions Tool. He described the tool’s ability to identify high-value areas that should be prioritized for protection, restoration, and enhancement efforts. The next phase of research will seek to expand the tool to cover all of the watersheds in the Toronto region and be applicable to other potential users in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and beyond.

attendees gather at IAGLR 2023 conference
IAGLR 2023 focused on the theme of Adapting to Climate Change, with presentations on topics ranging from advancements for cultivating resilience in our ecosystems, to impactful approaches to management and assessment.

  • Chloride Sources, Transport, Impacts, and Management – Implications for Mitigating Freshwater Salinization:

  • The Leslie Street Spit – Tommy Thompson Park: Exploring the Creation of a Biodiversity Hotspot:
    • Evolution of an Urban Wilderness: 27 Years of Habitat Restoration, Monitoring and Public Engagement – Andrea Chreston’s presentation, supported by TRCA colleagues Karen McDonald, Ralph Toninger, and Hillary Morris, took the audience through the 27-year evolution of Tommy Thompson Park (TTP) from port infrastructure to a biodiversity hotspot. It emphasized the importance of monitoring programs to evaluate the success of restoration work, detect invasive species, and guide future restoration and management.
    • TRCA presenter Andrea Chreston discusses the evolution of Tommy Thompson Park into a hotspot for urban biodiversity
      TRCA’s Andrea Chreston walks IAGLR 2023 attendees through the 27-year evolution of Tommy Thompson Park into a hotspot for urban biodiversity.

    • Adaptive Management of Dog-strangling Vine and Phragmites australis at Tommy Thompson Park – Hillary Morris described TRCA’s work to adaptively manage the invasive dog-strangling vine and Phragmites australis at the park. She highlighted successful monitoring and adaptive management strategies that will help control these invasive species over the long term.
    • Effects of Phragmites Invasion and Management on Wildlife Communities at Cell 1 Wetland in Tommy Thompson Park – York University presented a case study, completed with TRCA’s Andrea Chreston and Hillary Morris, that discussed the implications of invasive plant establishment and management on wildlife in the park. The wetland studied serves as an example of how Phragmites removal and effective restoration may be successful in increasing biodiversity over time.
    • Habitat Enhancement Monitoring at Tommy Thompson Park – Sebastian Theis presented the data results from TRCA’s habitat monitoring work with TRCA peers Jonathan Ruppert, Ryan Scott, Andrea Chreston, Angela Wallace, Brynn Coey, and Rick Portiss. This data was used to evaluate restored fish habitat at the park designed to support a healthy and diverse fish community based on Toronto & Region Remedial Action Plan targets. He revealed that the long-term fish and benthic invertebrate data is showing that restoration efforts at TTP are attracting piscivore species like Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass. This monitoring data will be used to evaluate future restoration efforts and conservation actions.
    • Responses of Migratory Passerine Species to Changing Stopover Habitat in an Urban Park – Henry James discussed research he completed with Jonathan Ruppert, Lyndsay Cartwright, and Andrea Chreston, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, related to songbird migration and specifically the capture program (bird banding) at TTP. He explained how data collected from the program is guiding habitat restoration at the park to support the migration of this declining group of birds.
    • Henry James presents research on songbird migration completed at Tommy Thompson Park
      Henry James presents research on songbird migration completed at Tommy Thompson Park.

    • Loss of a Species: Black-crowned Night-herons at Tommy Thompson Park – A York University study co-authored by TRCA’s Andrea Chreston, Karen McDonald, and Ralph Toninger examined the reason for the loss of the Black-crowned Night-herons after 42 years, the efforts made to protect them, and the implications for local ecology.
    • Colonial Waterbirds at Tommy Thompson Park: Nest Numbers and Contaminant Levels in Eggs – Andrea Chreston, supported by Karen McDonald, presented another collaborative study with Environment and Climate Change Canada, which provided data and an analysis of efforts to monitor two avian features at TTP: (1) the annual number of nests of all colonial waterbirds, and (2) contaminant levels in eggs of Herring Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants.


  • Land-to-Lake Connections for a Resilient Future:
  • Elizabeth Speller introduces IAGLR 2023 attendees to the watershed planning approach taken in the Greater Toronto Area by TRCA and its partners
    TRCA’s Elizabeth Speller introduces IAGLR 2023 attendees to the watershed planning approach taken in the Greater Toronto Area by TRCA and its partners.


  • Urban Phosphorus Speciation, Retention, and Export – From Science to Management:
    • Statistical Modeling of Phosphorus Loads and Speciation in Urban Catchments under Variable Landuse – This University of Waterloo presentation of a collaborative study involving TRCA’s Calvin Hitch and the City of Richmond Hill engaged attendees on the topic of how predicting urban phosphorus loads is key to designing and implementing phosphorus abatement strategies such as Low Development Infrastructure. Combining field data, phosphorus speciation analyses, and statistical modeling, we quantified phosphorus loads in three urban catchments in the Greater Toronto Area. The resulting variability in phosphorus loads and speciation implies that urban phosphorus management must be watershed specific.
    • Urban Phosphorus Load Estimation and Speciation – A University of Waterloo study involving TRCA’s Krista Chomicki, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Town of Ajax offered the results from an analysis of the annual and seasonal stormwater loads of different phosphorus chemical pools exported from two adjacent urban sewersheds (i.e. an area of land where all the sewers flow to a single end point) in the Town of Ajax.


  • Smarter Lakes are Better Lakes – Innovation, Collaboration, and Entrepreneurship:
  • TRCA water quality monitoring
    TRCA’s water quality monitoring network is one of the largest in Canada.


  • Small but Mighty: Wetlands as Keystone Ecosystems in the Great Lakes Basin in an Era of Climate Change I:
    • Creating and Managing Wetlands on a Constructed Landform in Toronto – Ralph Toninger, along with colleagues Karen McDonald, Andrea Chreston, John DiRocco, and Hillary Morris, presented a case example of how the created wetlands at Leslie Street Spit support diverse fish and wildlife communities, and discussed the park’s ongoing evolution and adaptive management.


  • Restoring and Monitoring Habitat in the Toronto and Region Area of Concern:
    • Assessing the Biological Response to Stream Restoration in the Toronto Region – Ryan Scott, supported by Rick Portiss, presented results showing how TRCA’s long-term fish and benthic invertebrate data is evaluating stream habitat restoration projects. This data is integral for highlighting the importance and effectiveness of stream restoration efforts to improve stream habitat in the Toronto region and help meet the goals of the Remedial Action Plan.
    • TRCA collects long-term fish and benthic invertebrate data to support the evaluation of stream habitat restoration projects
      TRCA’s collection of long-term fish and benthic invertebrate data supports the evaluation of stream habitat restoration projects.

    • Waterfront Integration Restoration Prioritization: A Tool for Improving Aquatic Habitat – In Thomas Sciscione and Andrew Ramesbottom’s presentation, they provided insight into the Waterfront Integrated Restoration Prioritization (WIRP) framework, a strategic approach to restoration planning developed by TRCA and partners. The approach uses the concept of applied science to inform meaningful implementation decisions focused on priority areas. Their presentation outlined the WIRP methodology and demonstrated how it can be used as a tool to successfully achieve different natural resource planning objectives.
    • Fish Community Changes along the Toronto Waterfront over the Past Decades Based on Boat Electrofishing Surveys – From a collaborative study with the University of Alberta and TRCA’s Sebastian Theis, Lyndsay Cartwright, Angela Wallace, Brynn Coey, Rick Portiss, and Jonathan Ruppert, Sebastian shared how changes in the Toronto waterfront nearshore fish community underline the importance of aquatic restoration projects. He highlighted findings that reveal the Toronto nearshore fish community is increasing in warmwater and piscivore presence, aligning with the Remedial Action Plan targets.
    • Gibraltar Point: Restoring Lost Features, Incorporating New Ones, and Preserving the Toronto Islands – Clifton Coppolino guided attendees through TRCA’s restoration of the Gibraltar Point shoreline on the Toronto islands, which includes a natural sand dune ecosystem and beach to help protect the shoreline – an important habitat for the area and a special recreational area for the public.

    Completed sand dune with native trees and shrubs planted on site
    TRCA has recently completed the sand dune construction phase of the Gibraltar Point Erosion Control Project.


  • Small but Mighty: Wetlands as Keystone Ecosystems in the Great Lakes Basin in an Era of Climate Change II:

TRCA is proud to have co-hosted IAGLR 2023 with the Toronto Metropolitan University. This important conference creates opportunities to share knowledge, foster dialogue, and further collaboration to support advancements towards shared goals.

attendees at the 2023 IAGLR conference
The IAGLR conference creates opportunities for researchers to share knowledge, foster dialogue, and pursue collaboration.

We are also deeply proud of our subject matter experts who presented and engaged in valuable research that is driving our ability to adapt to climate change. Thank you to our experts for your impactful work and to all the attendees who participated in this special event.


About Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

Since 1957, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), as enabled through the provincial Conservation Authorities Act, has taken action to enhance our region’s natural environment and protect our land, water, and communities from the impacts of flooding and increasingly extreme weather events – Ontario’s leading cause of public emergencies.

As the region’s first line of defence against natural hazards, TRCA maintains vital infrastructure and provides programs and services that promote public health and safety, protecting people and property.

TRCA mobilizes a science-based approach to provide sound policy advice, leveraging its position as a not-for-profit operating in the broader public sector to achieve collective impacts within our communities and across all levels of government.

TRCA’s jurisdiction includes nine watersheds and their Lake Ontario shorelines, spanning six upper-tier and fifteen lower-tier municipalities and representing almost five million people, approximately 10% of Canada’s population.

To learn more about TRCA, visit


Media Contact

Crystal Lee
Communications and Media Relations Specialist
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)