Bull Thistles

Bull thistles are the most common thistle in Raymore Park. They are found throughout the park’s wild areas and despite the prickles, their leaves are a source of food to deer and rabbits while insects and hummingbirds feed on their nectar. Apparently the roots when boiled taste like a Jerusalem artichoke and the leaves can be cooked and served spinach-style. Bull thistles are another eurasian invader but seem to have found a niche without being too invasive.

A bee sips nectar from a bull thistle in Raymore Park’s wild area. Click to enlarge.


Daytime rain brings a quick rise in the Humber.

There was heavy rain in Toronto last night but unlike the flood events of 1954 and 2013, the overnight rain was relatively local and not spread over the Humber watershed. This morning I took a leisurely stroll in the humid morning air and was surprised to see the relatively low level of the water.

At 8:30 this morning, a relatively low level.

By the afternoon, things had changed. More rain had fallen in the broader catchment area and the river’s quick rise was apparent – not as spectacular as 2013 but impressive nevertheless.

By 5:30 this afternoon, there was a lot more water and sediment.

On July 9th, 2013, this is how the Humber looked from the same vantage point when the water was beginning to subside from the previous day’s rain.

July 9, 2013, 5:45 am. The old footbridge foundation is completely submerged and may have even been shifted by the current.

Incidentally, workers repairs the bridge boards yesterday – many were rotten through. I don’t understand why they don’t replace the wood with metal ‘boards’ that would last much longer.

Bridge boards don’t last long as they’re not chemically treated. This is because preserved wood leaches toxins into the river in wet weather and would harm aquatic life.

Sewer work winding up (finally)

The staging area is no longer fenced off and various bits of equipment await removal.

The work to reline sewers buried along the Humber is almost over. The staging area north of the weir has been dismantled and will be restored to its natural state in the next few weeks. If all goes according to plan, the cycle / pedestrian path will be restored and widened to the standard width of 2.5 metres.

Between the retaining wall construction, the dog off-leash area and the sewer relining, Raymore Park has been in a state of construction since early 2016 so it will be nice to have peace and quiet once more. There’s still more work going on further south but that should be completed by the fall.

Pea gravel an issue for Leslieville dog owner.

Raymore Park’s DOLA and its pea gravel at the official opening in July 2017.

A couple of things that seemed clear when the Raymore Park dog off leash area (DOLA) was first proposed were;

1. The DOLA was a done deal regardless of input.

2. Pea gravel would be the surface of choice rather than more paw-friendly wood chips.

At the community meetings to discuss the DOLA, residents brought up the issue of the pea gravel as being irritating.

SInce the DOLA was constructed, two main issues have been pointed out to Toronto Parks directly and also through Councillor Mike Ford, namely that the pea gravel irritates dog paws to the point where some simply shut down. The other issue is that access to the small dog enclosure requires running the gauntlet through the large dog area. These two factors may well explain the unexpectedly low numbers using Raymore Park’s DOLA.

Neither issue seemed likely to be acted upon but now there is a glimmer of hope at least for those who dislike the irritating pea gravel.

According to the Toronto Star, a partially blind woman in the east end of Toronto found the pea gravel of her local DOLA irritating to her dog and also fell and broke her cane on the uneven surface. Instead of using the DOLA, she regularly allowed her dog to run off-leash outside the permitted area and eventually received a $261 ticket.

The lady has decided to take the city to court over the fine stating that the gravel is an unsuitable surface and has demanded that it be replaced. Ironically, the local park association raised $20,000 in order to replace the original but unsuitable crushed granite surface. The city opted to spend the community’s money on pea gravel.

The whole point of a leash free zone is to allow dogs to socialize and get some playful exercise. While pea gravel may be wonderful for drainage, if dogs can’t or won’t use the surface, there’s no point in having a DOLA.

If this lady wins her argument in court, there may be a case for replacing the pea gravel throughout Toronto’s DOLAs.

A close-up of the non-rounded ‘pea gravel’ used with a pair of husky paws for scale.

I give up

Call me old-fashioned but I think if I had responsibility for a park or two, I might visit them once in a while.

Garbage issues continue to plague Lions Park and the reason is because there is no follow-up by anyone in charge. Phoning 311 gets someone to do something immediately but after that nobody follows through to see if the problem remains solved.

The City manages TRCA parks in Toronto. Management and garbage collection are performed by separate departments and nobody seems to talk to each other.

The problem remains with garbage bin placements. Because there is a soccer field, players practise using the bins as movable goalposts. Each time the problem is reported, a fix is made but it never lasts. Currently there are over a dozen bins scattered around the field but empty spots where they should be.

Bins galore! I count 9 on the field and 2 off.



I have reminded the folks at the City that bins need to be chained to a well-secured post if they are to be useful in Lions Park. Here’s the latest response for bins at the bottom of the new steps:

Where’s the recycling bin? Post in ground – check. Padlock and cable – check.

Loop cable and attach with padlock – fail.

The padlock is still locked because the people who empty the bins probably can’t be bothered to use a key and so they re-secure the bins with the quick release rather than the padlock.

I won’t bother phoning 311 – it’s a waste of time.


One side benefit of the leash free zone.

The new leash free zone has taken some of the pressure off the wild area. The evidence for this is the fact that the old path is quite overgrown.

The old path is visible as a mild depression in the undergrowth.

There is a path there somewhere.

The lack of dogs and humans is also helpful to new plantings that are part of the rehabilitation of the former staging area. The bags at the base of some of the trees are containers which allow water to be released slowly (I always wondered). The brand name is Tree Gator.

New plantings of trees and grass. Our plentiful rainfall this summer is helping. Let’s hope winter ice is kind.

In the meantime, work continues on re-lining the sewage pipes that run along the Humber. The project has blown past its announced completion date of July 2017.

This equipment fire across the river on July 9th may not have helped the project timeline.