How the rock wall near Morningside Park is helping protect Highland Creek

Rock wall along the Highland Creek near Morningside Park

If you’ve walked the section of Highland Creek downstream of the Morningside Avenue Bridge in Scarborough, you’ve probably noticed a large supporting rock wall dividing the trail from the creek bed. While this wall adds to the scenic beauty of the Highland Creek trail, it also serves a very important purpose.

With heavy rains, erosion is an ongoing issue for the river valley and park land. Increased water levels flowing into the creek can send rushing waters capable of moving trees and large boulders during storms and can cause damage to bridges, pathways and properties.

On August 19, 2005, a storm exposed and broke sewers along the creek system and stripped as much as 30 metres from backyards on Birkdale Ravine. Erosion became progressively worse and began to affect a 70 metre-long section of the paved trail. In 2011, this trail was closed due to public safety concerns.

Erosion along the Highland Creek
Erosion of the paved trail leading to its closure in 2011.

In 2011, the City of Toronto approached TRCA to design and implement a long-term erosion control solution to restore and protect the eroded section of the trail.

Below are some photos showing some elements of the project:

Removal of large bar deposition.
Removal of large bar deposition. This is where gravel and other materials have accumulated on the inside of the stream meander.
Backhoe adding material behind the wall
Some of the removed material was used as backfill for the armourstone wall. The wall includes two types of supporting rock structures: a gabion stone drainage layer and rip rap to protect the base of the wall.
Highland Creek bendway weirs
Bendway weirs (pictured on the bottom left) were installed. These rock structures alleviate stress and redirect flow from the armourstone retaining wall and toward the centre of the channel during storm events.
paddle fence along the armourstone retaining wall
A post and paddle fence is installed along the armourstone retaining wall to improve public safety.
Map showing trail closure during construction.
A map showing trail closure during construction.

Below is the finished product! With work from TRCA in partnership with the City of Toronto, this stretch of the Highland Creek trail was able to be transformed from a closed and severely eroded area to the scenic nature trail that stands today.

Completed wall along Highland Creek

Read more about the Highland Creek Erosion Control Project! See more about Morningside Park.