Canadian Consulting Engineer

Award of Excellence: Sherbourne Common

October 1, 2012
By The Municipal Infrastructure Group

The East Bayfront Precinct of Toronto’s waterfront is a 22 hectare redevelopment site situated between Lakeshore Boulevard and Lake Ontario, from Jarvis Street to Parliament Street. When completely built, East Bayfront will contain 6,000...

The East Bayfront Precinct of Toronto’s waterfront is a 22 hectare redevelopment site situated between Lakeshore Boulevard and Lake Ontario, from Jarvis Street to Parliament Street. When completely built, East Bayfront will contain 6,000 residential units, 3,000,000 square feet of commercial space and 5.5 hectares of open spaces and parks.

At the heart of East Bayfront is Sherbourne Common, a park that serves as a public amenity and central gathering area for the new mixed-use community.

The park incorporates a dramatic water treatment installation which not only functions as part of the park’s stormwater management system, but also serves as a showcase for the integration of infrastructure into the public realm.

The award-winning Pavilion Building in the park houses a pumping station and ultra-violet (UV) disinfection system in its basement. Lake water is treated in the Pavilion and then discharged through the park via a series of scrim walls and a stunning 230-metre man-made channel featuring water art sculptures. In the future during wet weather events, stormwater will also be treated and released through the park features. Thanks to these installations, people can enjoy the beauty of the park features and see an important piece of water infrastructure at work.

Previous studies had suggested that stormwater should be treated in a separate underground chamber and released directly to the lake. However, neither the City of Toronto nor Waterfront Toronto, the agency in charge of the development who was the client, were completely satisfied with the concept due to the challenge of constructing the facility in very poor soils, and the difficulty of maintaining the underground facility.

Working for Waterfront Toronto and with West 8 + DTAH and Aquatic Habitat Toronto, The Municipal Infrastructure Group (TMIG) proposed an integrated facility that would pre-treat the water to remove grit and sediment prior to UV disinfection, and would then re-use the water in the park. After the idea was accepted, TMIG worked closely with the park designers, Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg and The Planning Partnership, and visual artist, Jill Anholt, to design the facility. TMIG were the project managers, lead designers and provided contract administration and inspection services for the pumping station, UV system and underground services.

The project fulfilled several goals of Waterfront Toronto for the development of the East Bayfront community. The overall mandate for the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront included the creation of new public spaces, the creation of dynamic and diverse new communities, and the promotion of a clean and green environment. To further emphasize the commitment to environmentally sound principles, Waterfront Toronto’s Sustainability Framework mandated the use of runoff water as a resource, to reduce potable water consumption and optimize the required extent of stormwater management infrastructure. In addition, the City of Toronto’s Wet Weather Flow Management Guidelines stipulate a level of stormwater management control for discharges to Lake Ontario. These rules have the long term objective of complying with the international Blue Flag designation, primarily to yield a swimmable waterfront.

Extensive stakeholder management was required from the outset of the project and was at the centre of its success. A collaborative effort was required with the team and with approval and regulatory agencies. For example, extensive consultation with Toronto Public Health was necessary to establish the suitability of the treated stormwater and lake water for the publically accessible water features.

The incorporation of UV treatment in the management of stormwater runoff generated by redevelopment is a new frontier in this branch of engineering, reflecting the global recognition of the value of water and Canada’s role in pioneering water treatment technologies.cce

Name of project: Sherbourne

Common, Toronto

Award-winning firm (project management, lead design, contract administration): The Municipal Infrastructure Group (Mark Tarras, P.Eng., Mike Elliott, P.Eng., Dean Whittaker, P.Eng., Abe Khademi, P.Eng., Eric Tuson, P.Eng., David Ashfield, P.Eng., Angela Carley, P.Eng., David Scott, P.Eng., Dana Bowes, Pat Craig)

Owner/client: Waterfront Toronto

Other key players: Dillon Consulting

(electrical), Alston Associates (geotechnial), Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, The

Planning Partnership (park design),

Jill Anholt Studios (artist),

Teeple Architects (pavilion architect).


This project incorporates a rare combination of far-sighted thinking, practical engineering, tasteful architecture, high visibility and access to the general public. The “in your face” feature of this project, down on the Toronto Waterfront, is very appealing and refreshing — all centred around practical and much needed stormwater management. Well done!”


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