Toronto’s shoreline stretches from Etobicoke Creek in the west to the Rouge River in the east. As the crow flies, that’s 41 kilometres from border to border. But the the total length of Toronto’s shoreline, with every wiggle, stretch and curve is almost 3 times that length: 111 kilometres. Every inlet and peninsula contributes to a lengthening of Toronto’s shoreline, and an 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.
My interest in Toronto’s shoreline and its ownership started after taking a walk in Etobicoke, and experiencing the fractured access that occurs between Marie Curtis Park in the west, and Norris Crescent in the east. It seemed to be significantly more interrupted compared to other parts of the city, but was it true, or was it merely a sentiment?
What follows is a metre-by-metre breakdown of the ownership, history, and use of Toronto’s shoreline; all in order to answer that very question, and instigate discussion.
- 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.
- Some shoreline length is accounted for by landforms that extend south into the lake. While this may mean there is ‘1 kilometre of shoreline’, it may be only a few dozen metres as the crow flies between connecting points on the mainland. I’ll try to structure some of the analysis to make this clear, but you can draw your own conclusions.