Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Brick Works Evergreen Interview

I found this video of Annie MacLeod from Evergreen being interviewed about the Don Valley Brick Works project. It's a bit of a puff piece but it provides all the basic information.

I had trouble viewing the video at the Blip TV site but it's available here as well.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

West Don Lands a Project in Waiting

There was an excellent article in this weekend's Globe and Mail on the West Don Lands project. Especially interesting (to me) is the complexity of all the infrastructure changes eg. changes to the railway span across the Don River, that need to be done before work begins to actually build something.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Crothers' Woods Consultation, Part II


Review recommendations and provide input on the future of Crothers' Woods. This is the second and last phase of the public consultation for the Crothers' Woods Master Plan.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
6:30pm - 8:30pm
City Hall (100 Queen St. West)
Committee Room 4

This is a followup to the public meeting last November. The consultants have been busy all winter and are now ready to present their draft report. I am sure this will generate a lot of interest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Winter at Todmorden Mills

I visited Todmorden Mills this week and snapped a few photographs. I noticed that the new interpretive signs have been installed. They describe the forest and display a helpful map for the short circular path you can take to view the forest and wetlands. The map is courtesy of the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve which has the same graphic displayed on their website. One of the creators of the wildflower preserve was Charles Sauriol, the original Don Watcher.

Interpretive sign

Interpretive map

A wintry marsh scene

Turkey Tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) growing on a log

A lonely White Pine (Pinus strobus) provides a little bit of colour against a beige background

Monday, February 19, 2007

Path Reopening Delayed

The Lower Don Trail was closed in May 2006 to perform some critical construction work on the Lakeshore Railway Bridge. This work is needed to facilitate the floodproofing of the West Don Lands that have been under threat ever since Hurricane Hazel.

As with any complex project there is the possibility of delays and this one is no exception. The latest word is that the proposed reopening of May 2007 has been pushed back to July. I don't know whether that will be July 1 or July 30 but I hope it is closer to the former. I miss the convenient entrance to the Don Valley trail system that the southern entrance provides. If I hear anything new I'll pass it along.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mountain Bikers Get Organized

The Don Valley has been a popular destination for recreational cycling for many years. The trails (when open) extend from Lakeshore Blvd. all the way to Lawrence and Bayview in the west and Victoria Park and Danforth in the east. In addition to the paved trails there is a section of the valley called Crothers' Woods which is a magnet for mountain bikers because it contains some steep sections that have been turned into some challenging trails.

As they become more popular these trails have attracted a variety of users including hikers and dog walkers. All this use has meant that the trails have become badly eroded and damaged, in some cases almost impassable.

The city after years of benign neglect realized that there was a problem and have decided to manage the situation, not by closing the trails but by trying to repair the trails so that they are able to last, called sustainable trails. This enlightened approach was taken based on experiences by similar municipalities in the the States and Western Canada where mountain biking activities have been around for longer periods.

Crothers' Woods also represents one of the last fragments of quality forest in the Lower Don Valley. Rather than deal with issues peacemeal the city decided to commission a management plan for the area which will include guidelines on how to manage all the diverse impacts on the area.

During this process, the city communicated with various groups and stakeholders to get input on the management plan. The mountain bikers up until now have been only loosely connected. The city said they would rather deal with a group than a bunch of individuals. This lead to the formation of a new group called the Toronto Off-Road Bicycling Group (TORBG). Their short term goal is to "represent off-road issues with the City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for Crothers Woods Master Plan". Long term, who knows? A previous attempt to organize called the Don Valley Trail Users Club (DVTUC) failed. It will be interesting to see how long this group stays together.

The master plan is due to be published in March so we will see what happens then. Don Watcher will keep you posted.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tanny Wells Appointment

Kathleen (Tanny) Wells, former chair of the Task Force to Bring Back the Don has been appointed to the management board of Downsview Park. Good to see one of our own make it to bigger things. One wonders whether this will lead to any progress being made in making Downsview Park anything more than the windswept wasteland it is now.

Tanny was the chair of the Task Force from 1994-1998. It's interesting to note that Downsview Park is in the Don River Watershed although no streams currently run through the park - they have long since been buried by urbanization. Lost Rivers documents this quite well. Maybe Tanny can look into restoring some of these lost creeks.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Summer Stewardship in Nordheimer Ravine

By Susan Aaron

I have been the stewardship team leader for the Nordheimer Ravine at Spadina and St. Clair for the past eight years since the two wetland sites were created in partnership by the city of Toronto’s department of Natural Environment in Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and the Task Force to Bring Back the Don. It is my pleasure each year to be a part of what occurs in the ravine and its constructed wetlands, aiding to assist the wild to become the everyday.

There are two restoration wetland sites used to soak up runoff, catch rain water and restore native wildlife species. The first, the Roycroft, has a shallow rain filled pond and is predominantly treed with aisles allowing for wildflowers and a raised berm along the walkway. It is considered a hardwood forest wetland.

Looking down on the east end of the Roycroft and the pond.

The second the Glen Edyth is a meadow wetland with a meadow in front, and a large horseshoe shaped pond at the back filled from a stream in the ravine slope. The pond is sheltered by trees and shrubs.

Castlefrank Brook originally flowed through the ravine but in the 1970s the brook was buried in the storm water system in preparation for the Spadina Expressway that never was constructed.

Looking down from the slope west of the Glen Edyth wetland at the pond.

The main tasks of the stewards in the ravine each summer is to weed out invasive and nonnative plant and monitor plants that are growing for variety and status as nonnative, native or invasive. Over the years the number of native species has increased without planting and now there is little weeding in the wetlands proper. However, the path between the two sites and the meadow in front of the Glen Edyth still require weeding. The most invasive plants taken out are Burdock, Purple Loosestrife, Queen Anne’s Lace, Canada Thistle, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, and Japanese Knotweed. There is also a new patch of Dog-strangling Vine further west in the ravine near a small Skunk Cabbage wetland. We also remove Ragweed to prevent allergic reactions.

Looking east at the Glen Edyth Wetland.

The sites and the ravine have become very plentiful in wild flowers, from Marsh Marigolds to asters of varying colors in the sites and outside, to Potato Vine, Michigan Lily, Turtlehead, Joe Pye-weed, and Vervain, and two varieties of rose amongst others. There are also ferns, and sedges, many cattails, arrowheads, and grasses.

Bee on Cone Flower in the meadow in the Glen Edyth.

Monarch butterfly on Joe Pye Weed in the Roycroft.

In the summer of 2006 a request for proposed development on one segment of the ravine slope across the ravine from the Glen Edyth was taken to the Ontario Municipal Board. The decision is still pending. This particular slope is unusually healthy, and according to a Toronto and Region Conservation Area expert it is close to being old growth forest. Since European settlement it has almost always been forest. It was necessary to express to the OMB the importance of what occurs there both as restorative and innate to people and wildlife and protected as designated in the city’s planning act and by-laws.

Slope west of the Roycroft wetland.

Plantain by the duck weed covered pond at the back of the Glen Edyth.

Many animals inhabit or visit the ravine. Squirrels, Red-tailed Hawks, multiple varieties of songbirds, butterflies, bees and slugs, a few foxes and raccoons, and a one time sighting of traveling deer. It is also popular place with daily visits by dogs and people. It is also a fairly safe area. Despite isolated incidents a few years back, it has become a good place to stroll and read the educational signs set out by the city.

Signs in front of the Glen Edyth wetland.

This posting and pictures are courtesy of Susan Aaron, stewardship leader at the Nordheimer Ravine wetlands. If you are interested in helping out in 2007, contact the city Summer volunteer program.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Don Mills Road Corridor EA

Notice of submission

The latest step in one of the Environmental Assessments affecting the Don Valley is the one concerning transit improvements in the Don Mills Road/Don Valley Parkway corridor. The city has submitted a draft Terms of Reference to the Ministry of the Environment for review. The TOR can be viewed online or at any of the locations listed in the notice.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Looking for a Few Good People

Interested in working outdoors this summer for more than $8 an hour? Then check out this job posting. The city's natural environment section is hiring two people to perform stewardship work in Toronto's natural areas (including the Don). This involves fairly demanding physical labour and you need some specialized skills (special licencing involved). It's hard work but there is always something interesting to do and it pays $23.83 an hour!. Applications need to be in by February 8 so get your resumes ready.