The Great Lakes are a feature that’s often taken for granted. Accounting for a fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, they provide drinking water, alter our weather, and offer a unique opportunity for recreation.

In the days before starting Metroscapes, I took long, undocumented, and random walks in Toronto. More times than not, I ended up at the shoreline, and more times than not, I did not plan on it. I gravitated to it subconsciously. There’s a body of research to suggest there are real human psychological connections to bodies of water.

I’m not hung up on that, rather I take stock in the urban realm opportunities and benefits; publicly accessible shorelines make for great parkland. As the crow flies, a city’s borders may be fraction of the actual length of its shoreline, as every inlet and peninsula contributes to a lengthened opportunity to enjoy the waterfront.

So it’s important to take stock of the ownership and access to the shoreline. In an ideal world, a city’s shoreline is 100% open public access, regardless of use. It is an asset and a treasure to be shared. Admittedly, it would be nearly impossible to achieve 100%, but it is a worthy goal to work towards.


  • These numbers were obtained by drawing low-resolution lines along Toronto’s shoreline using Google Maps, and may be subject to negligible fluctuations due to lake elevation, shoreline erosion / shifting due to other natural phenomena, human modifications (private developments, public infrastructure work, etc.), or the accuracy of the map imagery itself. It’s not precise, but accurate enough.