villiers island toronto

Not everyone is thrilled with the design plans for Toronto's new island neighbourhood

A new community coming to Toronto's waterfront as part of the eco-engineering marvel that is the Port Lands Flood Protection Project has made some particularly magnificent strides in the last few weeks, but just as the land is being primed for the new precinct, people are chiming in with a few pieces of constructive criticism.

The renaturalized, human-forged Don River valley extension has finally been filled with water that runs below the city's shiny new bridges. The next step in the process will involve connecting the old and new rivers by removing dams placed during the construction of the waterbed.

While we're still very far away from the advent of the condo buildings, offices, retail spaces, roads and more that will comprise the new island community, online critiques have been popping up as workers make such rapid visible progress on the site.

One voice has been noted local architecture critic Alex Bozikovic, who has spawned some further discussion about the forthcoming district's design on X this week.

Among Bozikovic's (and others') concerns are the project's lack of housing density, with some 9,000 homes included in the latest 2024 Demonstration Plan — a figure he thinks is perhaps "arbitrarily too low" for the 33-hectare space.

There is also some question of other aspects of the neighbourhood's urban planning, such as the scale of the proposed streets in a time when the city is increasingly trying to de-prioritize cars, and also the dominating feel of the towers, as currently designed.

It seems that given the island presented the City with the opportunity to come up with something completely new — or at least inspired by much more successful design than we often see in Toronto — some feel a little let down with what is in the works.

As Bozikovic wrote in his posts on the topic at the end of March, he and others are "very curious to learn more about how this was designed."

Per the blurb on the $1.25 billion sustainable project from Waterfront Toronto, planners are hoping to position Villiers as "a new waterfront community that embraces its distinct industrial functions and the spectacular new parks, public spaces and ecological richness that will result from the naturalization of the mouth of the Don River."

"Surrounded by water on all sides, the Villiers Island precinct will introduce a vitality to the area that honours the distinctive culture associated with waterfront districts and vibrant working ports."

Given that yet another public meeting regarding density in particular was just held on March 26, with recommendations going to City Council later in the spring, residents have yet to see the final version of what Villiers will be — which will include a new name.

Lead photo by

Waterfront Toronto


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