Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Road for the Don

Access road under construction

If you've passed by the mouth of Taylor-Massey Creek recently you will have noticed a considerable amount of construction activity. In addition to the sewer project that is taking up part of the parking lot in Taylor Creek Park there is also another related project occurring on the north side of the creek. Toronto Water is busy blazing a new road up the East Don (see map). The purpose of this road is to allow them to access to maintenance wells so that they can access a sewer that runs through the East Don ravine. The sewer was built in the 1960s when the city was more concerned about building things than about natural spaces.

The sewer which is now about 50 years old requires some monitoring and possible maintenance. In order to inspect the sewer they need to lower a camera mounted on a robot into the sewer so they can look inside. The monitoring equipment and the robot are quite substantial thus a road is required to get it to the access grates.

The road is following the path of an old construction road laid down by the TRCA in 1999 so that they could do some slope remediation. The new road will go past the slope and extend another 400m east alongside the river.

Eventually the road will be used by Parks to establish a trail through the Charles Sauriol Preserve that will link up with parks further north such as Milne Hollow and Moccasin Trail.

Restored part of old construction road. New armour stone is on right, river is on the left

Another section showing riprap lining bank

Some of the construction vehicles parked in the staging area just north of Taylor-Massey Creek

Monday, July 19, 2010

First Resident of the Don

Groundhog spotted at Lakeshore Blvd. East and Don Roadway

I was going by the mouth of the river last week just where Lakeshore Blvd. East crosses the river at the Don Roadway. Immediately south of the bridge the Don River enters the Keating Channel. Just at the southwest corner of the intersection I spotted a groundhog (Marmota monax) coming out of a hole from underneath the bridge abutment.

There is a bit of debate whether the Don River ends here or whether the mouth is actually where the Keating Channel enters the harbour west of Cherry Street. The effects of the harbour and the lake water actually extends further up the channel to around Eastern Avenue. To my mind the Keating Channel right turn elbow demarcates the end of the river. Therefore this groundhog would be living in the place closest to the mouth of the river.

I've seen groundhogs in several places in the Don Valley. They are a pretty common species and have adapted to urban conditions. Groundhogs are herbivores so I guess the grassy roadside next to the Don Roadway makes for some pretty easy living. This one was pretty nonchalant and sat by his hole watching me for 10 minutes as I snapped several pictures. As I fiddled with my camera looking for the video setting, it scurried into its den so I only have a few still photos from the encounter.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Lower Don Sign II

Latest cleaning job gets rid of most graffiti

I am kind of ambivalent about interpretive signs in the Don these days. At first I thought these were a great idea. Educate the public, raise awareness about the natural environment, etc. Unfortunately not everyone is so high-minded. These signs have attracted an unusual amount of vandalism in the form of graffiti tags. Some of the signs have become so bad they are unreadable. The city does not have the resources to keep up with the maintenance and removal has been haphazard at best. The result is a sad collection of ugly signage in the Don.

The sign on the Lower Don Trail just north of the Riverdale Park footbridge has been the unlucky target for the worst of the tagging. After a couple of attempts at getting the city to clean it up and at least one time when I cleaned it myself, I have given up on this sign. That was 16 months ago. However, as I passed by it yesterday I noticed that it has been cleaned up once again. Most of the paint has been removed and the sign is now legible again (although you can still see it has been through the wars).

Sadly I expect this sign will be covered in another month with a new coating of graffiti. It may be time to rethink our signage strategy for the Lower Don.