'Fish condos' springing up in Toronto

A look at Cell 2 which is man-made wetland for birds to breed and certain species of fish to also...

A look at Cell 2 which is man-made wetland for birds to breed and certain species of fish to also breed. (Jack Boland/QMI Agency)

Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:23 PM ET

TORONTO -- While developers launch condos into the sky, Waterfront Toronto is going underwater to create new homes — for fish.

Although the agency doesn’t officially call them “fish condos,” preferring the more official term of aquatic habitats, it is creating these new homes to bring different species back to the waterfront.

“The species are coming back and they’re coming back stronger,” said Waterfront Toronto spokesman Andrew Hilton.

“One of the goals is to make sure the water around which we build is clean, healthy and has a robust ecosystem.”

As part of the Aquatic Habitat Toronto group — which formed in 2006 and also includes the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, the federal department of fisheries, and the Ontario ministries of natural resources and environment — the goal is to counter the detrimental impact caused by port expansion and other development.

Waterfront Toronto has used recycled material to build six aquatic habitats across the city — including in 2008 a popular spot for pike spawning under the Spadina WaveDeck.

“If you’ve ever seen a coral reef, with little nooks and crannies and areas where vegetation will grow, it creates the right habitat for fish,” Hilton said. “It’s basically a collection of recycled material, so you have to put a stone and mesh base on the bottom so it stays intact. We put in things like tree stumps, there’s concrete in there.”

Similar installations were created in 2009 at the Rees and Simcoe wavedecks. The agency also built the fish condos at Mimico Waterfront park, Port Union Waterfront Park and Western Beaches Watercourse.

During the construction of the wavedecks in the central waterfront, more than 1,900 square metres of aquatic habitat was created in addition to the 1,700 square metres of new public space. In total, more than 4,000 square metres of “fish condos” have been installed along Toronto’s harbour.

“We looked at where the best places were to build them — as we call them, ‘sweet spots’ — we did more habitat building under the Spadina WaveDeck because there is more marsh area nearby at HTO Park,” Hilton said. “We looked at where fish might want to go and what things are there around that might attract them.”


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