Resources and Library:

Planning Trails & Greenways

Hosted by

The Lake Ontario waterfront is a significant provincial resource, which has provided generations of people with a place to live, food sources, transportation routes, drinking water, recreation and more. However, it has suffered over the years from the pressures of human activities.


Lake Ontario Greenway Strategy: a Vision for the Future

The Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront developed the values and principles upon which the Strategy is based. The basic thrusts of the Royal Commission - the need to apply an ecosystem approach, to address the overlapping spheres of environment, economy and community, and to coordinate the actions of existing agencies rather than impose solutions from above. In coordinating the Lake Ontario Greenway Strategy, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust is fulfilling its mandate to coordinate the programs and policies of the Province and its agencies relating to the waterfront, and to facilitate the establishment of a waterfront trail and associated open spaces.

photo of people talking

A vision for the Lake Ontario Greenway

A great deal of progress has been made since the Royal Commission began its work in 1988 - progress in implementing specific projects; significant improvements in provincial and municipal policies; and, not least, a striking change in the way many communities view their waterfront. The Greenway Strategy reports on this progress and establishes a consensus-based blueprint for further actions. It is not intended to be a formal statement of government policy, but rather to provide a context for setting priorities, guidance on ways to achieve a shared vision, and an information base to assist decision-making.

The Greenway

The Lake Ontario Greenway encompasses the lands and waters that show a direct ecological, cultural or economic connection to the waterfront from Burlington Bay to the Trent River. It extends into the lake, generally to the 10 metre depth within which most of the nearshore coastal processes and fishery activities occur. Inland, the Greenway generally extends to the first significant rise in elevation, which often corresponds to the former Lake Iroquois shoreline. Where significant natural areas extend up major river valleys, they are usually included.

The Strategy

The Greenway Strategy provides an overview of background and context, a description of the key features of the waterfront of today, an analysis of the objectives and actions necessary to realize the waterfront of tomorrow, and an overview of implementation mechanisms and roles.

The Goal

The goal of the Lake Ontario Greenway Strategy is to foster commitment to actions that will regenerate a healthy and sustainable waterfront that is clean, green, accessible, connected, open, useable, diverse, affordable and attractive. This goal is supported by five objectives, and a series of actions necessary to achieve each objective


Fifty years ago, the north shore of Lake Ontario was a string of communities, large and small, separated by farmland and forest, joined by two-lane roads, railways and lake shipping routes. Today, that same waterfront has become the.largest urban conglomerate in the country, with the distinctions among its communities masked by subdivisions and superhighways, its waters polluted, its forests and wetlands reduced to remnants. Despite that degradation, many places on the waterfront provide a special quality of life for residents, and recreation and beauty for visitors. Fifty years from now, what kind of waterfront will our children and
other forms of life share?

Waterfront communities will be larger, that is certain, and more crowded and more diverse, with over twice the human population in the surroundingregion. But the waterfront itself will have emerged as a vital focus for those communities, a special place to be cherished and visited often by local residents and tourists alike. The Waterfront Trail will be a vital link between communities, bringing people into contact with the water's edge throughout the year. Some of us may go to the shore to find tranquillity alongside water clean enough that our children can swim or fish safely.

Or we might go to catch sight of the abundant wildlife in the protected natural areas and regenerated forests and wetlands that dot the shore in blocks large and small. We might stroll along the beaches and bluffs, watching the waves that continually shape the shoreline.

Most of us will visit the waterfront to play: to boat or picnic or watch birds, or to walk or cycle along paths that loop and interconnect along the entire length of the shore. We might also come to shop or dine or visit festivals in the vibrant "people places" that cluster along the water's edge. And when we come, we will notice how each community has used its waterfront heritage to create a distinctive feel, its own unique sense of place that proclaims pride in its past and confidence in its future. That pride will be reflected in a quality of design that creates memorable places and special experiences, and in the involvement of a wide range of community groups in waterfront activities.

Some of us will be lucky enough to live near the waterfront, in a variety of housing types and styles. A good many of us will find work near the water, in businesses and industries that share a sense of stewardship of the environment, or in offices in our homes. For an increasing number of urban dwellers, the daily drive to work will change, thanks to new automobile technologies, improved transit and expanded networks of commuter cycling routes. Some of those routes will be set in broad corridors of green up the river valleys that link the waterfront to the Oak Ridges Moraine and other natural 'habitats.

The Lake Ontario Greenway Strategy is about protecting and restoring those elements of the waterfront that we jointly value ecological health, a sense of community, economic vitality. Fifty years from now, we will value the waterfront even more than now, and that sense of value will give us the continued commitment to work together to ensure that the waterfront is clean, green, accessible, connected, open, useable, diverse, affordable, and attractive.

Challenges and Opportunities

A number of issues recur frequently in all sections of the waterfront. They provide the central set of challenges and opportunities which this Strategy addresses:


To achieve the waterfront of the future described in the Vision, a wide range of actions is underway and planned to contribute to five broad objectives:

Objective I

Protect the physical, natural and cultural attributes associated with the Lake Ontario Greenway

Objective 2

Identify restoration needs and methods and encourage landowners, communities and agencies to undertake regeneration activities

Objective 3

Promote greater awareness, understanding and recreational use of the water front and encourage community pride and participation in its regeneration.

Read more about the Waterfront Greenway at:

Print Friendly
Print Friendly and PDF




Facebook Twitter

Stay up to date on legislative issues for trails, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


business directory


trail database

Need trail skills and education? Do you provide training? Join the National Trails Training Partnership!

The NTTP Online Calendar connects you with courses, conferences, and trail-related training

arrowEnjoy and share the new online, digital version of the American Trails Magazine!

arrowHelp us provide you more useful resources to keep you on the cutting-edge -- please join today!

arrowWe are advocating for your interests! Visit the Supporting Trails page to view the latest in legislative news, current issues, and opportunities, and to learn how to access funding.

arrow Sign me up for American Trails Action Alerts and e-Newsletters">Sign up for American Trails Action Alerts and Trail Tracks e-Newsletters.


PDF  Some of our documents are in PDF format and require free Adobe Acrobat Reader software.
  Download Acrobat Reader

section 508 logo American Trails and NTTP support accessibility with Section 508: read more.