Task Force to Bring Back the Don

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Task Force to Bring back the Don
Abbreviation TFBBD
Formation 1989
Extinction 2010
Type Municipal advisory committee
Purpose Environmental
Headquarters Toronto, ON, Canada

The Task Force to Bring Back the Don was a citizen advisory committee that advised Toronto city council on issues concerning the Don River and its watershed. It consisted of up to 20 citizen members and 3 council members. It was formed in 1989 and disestablished in 2010.


On September 7, 1989, city council established the Interim Task Force on the Don River Clean-Up [1]. The impetus for the creation of the Task Force was a public meeting held 5 months earlier on April 1, 1989 at the Ontario Science Centre attended by about 500 people who were interested in cleaning up the Don. At the time the Don River was seriously neglected and polluted. At the same time, an article entitled Rebirth of a River was published in the Globe and Mail that detailed the current state of the river and its issues and challenges [2].

In 1991, the Task Force published a book entitled Bringing Back the Don. The book detailed visions for restoration of the Don and potential methods for doing so.

In addition to the advisory committee, the Task Force sponsors restoration projects. These include tree plantings and wetland restoration. In 1996 the Task Force initiated a major wetland restoration project. Initially called the Demonstration Wetland, it was later renamed as Chester Springs Marsh. Two basins were excavated adjacent to the river and these periodically flood with river water [3].

Since 1996, the Task Force has either created or enhanced four more wetlands in the Don Valley and another three in nearby tributary ravines [4].

The Task Force has advised the city on several environment related issues including the sewer use bylaw [5], road salt reduction, snow dump sites, the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan [6], and flood protection of the lower Don [7].

Currently the main focus is the creation of a naturalized mouth for the Don River. It currently empties into a concrete lined harbour waterway called the Keating Channel.


Members of the Task Force are appointed for a three year term in parallel with the current term of council. One member is appointed as chair by the committee for the same three year term. Since 2001, the committee has also appointed a vice-chair who chairs meetings whenever the chair is unavailable or declares a conflict during a point of discussion. Members are recruited through the city appointment process. However, the Task Force interviews prospective members to ensure that they have an interest in the Don River and can participate in the goals of the committee.

The Task Force has three sub-committees called teams where individual members get together to discuss issues in detail. The teams report back to the Task Force once per month and table motions if necessary. The teams are Habitat Restoration; Policy & Planning; and Communications, Outreach, and Marketing.

The Task Force has the support of some city staff that are more or less dedicated to Task Force business. The city clerk's office assigns a person who sends out a printed agenda and takes minutes during the monthly meetings. Another employee in the Planning Department assists with editing the newsletter which is produced twice per year; website updates; and other Task Force material including educational material.

To support the Task Force's restoration initiatives, there is an employee in the city's Parks and Forestry department who is responsible for projects in the Lower Don. Originally the person was hired specifically for the Task Force but the position has evolved to include other similar responsibilities.


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