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Duffins & Carruthers Creek Watersheds Projects & Initiatives


Duffins Creek Projects

Atlantic Salmon Restoration

In 2006, Duffins Creek was selected for its healthy habitats as one of three rivers for the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program. Known widely as the "Bring Back the Salmon" program, this is a partnership between TRCA, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ontario Power Generation, and various private sector supporters. The goal of the program is to re-establish a self-sustaining population of Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario.

Girls stocking fish in Duffins Creek 2013

In 2013, the project partners installed a weir in Duffins Creek which temporarily traps fish so they can be examined by TRCA to study their weight, size, age, etc. The weir is in place in spring, summer, and early fall to determine the number of adult Atlantic salmon returning to the Duffins Creek to evaluate the success of the restoration program. Funding for the first three years of weir project was provided through the generous support of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Atlantic Salmon from RBW in Duffins Creek 2013


East Duffins Headwaters Former Aggregate Pit Rehabilitation

The restoration of this former aggregate pit is an excellent example of collaboration to achieve success around a shared vision. The site now has long-term sustainable land use and public recreation opportunities.

  • Located on the west side of Concession 6, 1 km north of Pickering/Uxbridge Townline Road, Uxbridge
  • 39 hectares (96 acres) in size, in Duffins Creek watershed, on the Oak Ridges Moraine, in the Greenbelt
  • Lands were farmed until the early 1960s, followed by aggregate extraction for 40 years. The majority of the site was disturbed, only 2 ha at the west end of the property were untouched. The undisturbed area was later designated by TRCA as the "Uxbridge Forest Kames Environmentally Significant Area" (ESA 111), and by the Province of Ontario as a Provincially Significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).
  • After aggregate extraction, the site was deteriorating due to constant erosion.
  • The local community raised funds in 1999 to purchase the property with the assistance of the Charles Sauriol Environmental Land Trust
  • TRCA successfully secured the majority of funding for the gravel pit rehabilitation work from the Ontario Aggregate Resources Corporation (TOARC), remainder was donated by James Dick Construction Limited.
  • One of the primary East Duffins Headwaters Conservation Lands trailhead/parking areas. Free access for the public to approximately 75 km of multi-use recreation trails on TRCA property which serve 50,000 users each year, including hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, as well as access to the larger Oak Ridges Trail system.

 Aerial view of the area in 1999East Duffins Headwaters Pit aerial 1998

Aerial view of the same area in 2012, after restoration work

East Duffins Headwaters Pit aerial 2012



Carruthers Creek Projects

Carruthers Creek Watershed Plan

Carruthers Creek watershed was included in comprehensive watershed planning by TRCA for neighbouring Duffins Creek in 2003.

In 2015, TRCA began a new watershed plan for Carruthers Creek, in partnership with the Region of Durham.

Given its small size of approximately 3,690 hectares (9,118 acres), its physiography, and the extent of existing urbanisation, Carruthers Creek watershed has a finite and limited assimilative capacity.

There are a number of key issues to consider when studying Carruthers Creek watershed:
• Sensitivity of the watershed to additional changes in hydrology, including consideration of flooding and erosion impacts.

• Extent of the natural heritage system to be conserved or protected, in order to provide long-term biodiversity in the watershed and mitigate urban development impacts.

• How previous urban development, especially since the 2003 watershed plan, has affected watershed health.

Phase 1 of the study will be conducted in 2015 and 2016. This current state characterisation will identify select high sensitivity features and systems in the watershed (e.g., hydrology, hydrogeology, wetlands, headwater watercourses, drainage features) which require specific management directions.

The existing urban areas south of Highway 7 also merit special consideration, particularly the cumulative impacts, since these areas are subject to flood and erosion vulnerability, especially areas south of Bayly Street. Opportunities for mitigation will need to be identified and explored.

In 2017 and 2018, TRCA will complete outstanding studies--some of which require the baseline
data from Phase 1 in order to proceed--evaluate and analyse technical reports, assess development
scenario models, finalise management and policy recommendations, conduct public consultation, integrate information to create the final watershed plan product, and outline recommended implementation actions and costs.


Carruthers Creek Ecological Enhancements

TRCA seeks community partners for projects which enhance the natural environment. Since 2007, Deer Creek Golf and Banquet Facility in Ajax has taken the initiative to enhance their substantial natural land holdings. They began with a stream diversion for a tributary to Carruthers Creek which enabled fish to bypass a small dam on the stream. 

Carruthers Creek tributary bypass channel, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Deer Creek Golf Club

Deer Creek bypass channel 2007


More recent work includes stream bank stabilisation using natural channel design methods to stop erosion, and improve the stream water quality for aquatic life, including Redside dace, a small endangered fish. This work was done in partnership with TRCA using innovative methods, including the use of on-site natural materials as much as possible.

Carruthers Creek at DeerCreek GC Oct2014

Carruthers Creek tributary, after restoration work at Deer Creek Golf Club, October 2014. Photo TRCA