Aquatic Habitat Toronto

Aquatic Habitat Toronto (AHT) represents a consensus-based partnership between agencies with a vested interest in the improvement of aquatic habitat on the Toronto Waterfront.

Partners include Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) in consultation with City of Toronto.

Aquatic Habitat Toronto is responsible for the implementation of the Toronto Waterfront Aquatic Habitat Restoration Strategy (TWAHRS).



The goal of the Toronto Waterfront Aquatic Habitat Restoration Strategy is to develop and achieve consensus on an aquatic habitat restoration strategy that will maximize the potential ecological integrity of the Toronto waterfront.

Developed in 2003, The TWAHRS strategy strives to create a more sustainable waterfront by using an ecosystem approach to increase ecological integrity, provide suitable conditions for the maintenance of self-sustaining aquatic communities, and improve ecological connectivity.

The strategy was developed using a consultative, consensus-based approach involving stakeholders and the general public. It emphasizes conservation design based on native and naturalized species, and takes into account human uses of the shoreline and nearshore waters.

TWAHRS contains a wealth of information on the current conditions of the Toronto Waterfront and provides design suggestions for different types of habitat works in different environments.

The TWAHRS Storymap

Since its implementation, TWAHRS has guided 44 waterfront aquatic habitat restoration projects, and restored approximately 55 hectares of aquatic habitat.

Our new interactive storymap highlights some of the main TWAHRS techniques used, and features key findings from the assessment report conducted in 2019.

Select the image below to open the storymap.

Toronto Waterfront Aquatic Habitat Restoration Strategy storymap



1. Consultation

Aquatic Habitat Toronto provides support for Waterfront Toronto and other proponents working on the waterfront by facilitating the approvals process.

In order for a project to be implemented on the waterfront, a variety of approvals are required. Examples include environmental assessments (federal and/or provincial) and fisheries approvals. AHT can help you receive the necessary approvals for your project.

When a proponent is working on the waterfront and there is any chance of negatively impacting fish habitat, compensation for the potential loss is required. AHT can help direct and design this aquatic habitat compensation.

AHT invites consultants and project managers to share their project proposals.

Port Union Waterfront Park pedestrian bridge

2. Research

The other focus of AHT is to evaluate and advance the role of science in the management of aquatic habitat in the Toronto region. The goal is to answer questions about water quality, sediment quality, phytoplankton availability, and a host of other issues.

The answers to these questions can then feed back into the design of future aquatic habitat through adaptive management.

TRCA monitoring staff measure fish size

Aquatic Habitat Toronto partners with various universities and government agencies to study the Toronto waterfront:

Research projects include:

ACOUSTIC TAGGING: TRCA has teamed with researchers from DFO and Carleton University on an acoustic fish study designed to gather information about the behaviour and habitat utilization of the fish community inhabiting the Toronto Harbour. The research team has deployed receivers in locations within and around Toronto’s inner harbour. These receivers will communicate with tags surgically implanted in fish, allowing us to track their habitat utilization.

FISH COMMUNITY MONITORING: During the spring, summer and autumn, TRCA monitors the Lake Ontario fish communities within its jurisidiction to determine the composition and abundance of the fishes found by electrofishing. Sampling occurs on an annual basis.

TRCA monitoring staff conduct acoustic telemetry study