Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)


What’s With The Blue Flags?

Jun 9, 2016

The team hard at work installing thousands of flags on Cherry Street in the Port Lands.
Hard at work installing thousands of flags on Cherry Street in the Port Lands.

By: Carol Webb

Art challenges us to look at familiar things in new and different ways. This year, the Luminato Festival chose to celebrate its tenth anniversary by asking Toronto to look at a familiar sight, the Hearn Generating Station, in a new way. With #TurnOnTheHearn, Luminato is asking us to see the former generating station as a cultural destination. By doing so, it’s shining a light on the possibilities for this heritage building – but also for the Port Lands, where it’s located. 

For 17 days in June, the tip of the Hearn’s monumental 770 foot smokestack will be illuminated at night in a wash of blue. The lighted stack is a beacon for festival goers, attracting people to experience the programming and the possibilities of this area. And, for those who may think the Port Lands is some place distant from the city centre, you will see how close it really is. 

An image of the Hearn Generating Station located in the Port Lands.

Opened in 1951, the Hearn's smokestack was once the tallest structure in Toronto until the CN Tower came along (Image via BlogTO). 

The blue-lit stack is also a hint of what’s to come for the Port Lands. This underused pocket of the city is brimming with possibility. A massive planning effort is underway to plot the future of the Port Lands, which can only start once the area is flood protected. The solution to this flood protection challenge is more than applying straight-up engineering. The plan is to make more room for the Don River to flow. The mouth of the Don River will be restored to a more natural state, and a new river valley and wetlands will be created – a green approach to vital infrastructure that will improve Toronto’s resiliency and help clean our water. 

Villiers Island – a stunning new waterfront community – will emerge from this river valley. When redeveloped into a mixed-use area, Villiers Island will offer an unprecedented experience that celebrates its natural and industrial heritage, and provides a contemporary model for sustainable city building.

En route to the Hearn you will come across a wave of blue along Cherry Street. The flags mark one of the spots where Cherry Street will cross the new river valley. In this small way, we’re asking you to see this familiar street in a new way.

To see more of what’s to come, check out our dynamic ‘Before and After’ gallery showcasing eight amazing points of transformation and watch this short video to see the vision for the future.


Visit www.PortLandsTO.ca for more information.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter - and join the conversation about the Port Lands revitalization using the #PortLandsTO hashtag.


post contributor

  • Carol Webb

    Carol Webb is a Senior Manager, Communications and Public Engagement with Waterfront Toronto.