Two baseball diamonds have occupied the middle of the park for years and have been virtually unused for almost a decade. In that time they have been regularly mowed, the infield regularly graded and a few years ago, the batters’ cages were replaced and bleachers renovated. Because of the lack of use over the years, I suggested that the park manager consider planting some native trees and extending the growing canopy that already exists to the south. This would create a wildlife corridor extending the length of the park. His response was that plans were in place for a cricket or soccer field.
Toronto is committed to increasing its tree cover from the current 28% to 40% over the next decade. It is widely recognized that flooding events are ameliorated by tree cover. As recently as July 8th 2013, a rain event caused considerable flooding throughout Toronto because the sheer volume of water overwhelmed the sewer system. Trees and the ground beneath them are natural sponges that absorb water and release it slowly. In addition to providing cover for deer and other animals, tree cover tempers the local climate making it cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Now instead of trees, there is a proposal to establish a leash free zone for dogs in that location.
The ramifications of this proposal are huge.
- The quiet nature of the park will be completely changed.
- Wildlife (deer, waterfowl, foxes, coyotes, turtles, beaver etc.) will be adversely affected.
- A considerable increase in car traffic into the park along with many more dogs.
- Supervision will be difficult because of the distance from the parking lot to the proposed zone.
- More dogs will be set loose as owners make their way to the zone.
- The park is surrounded by homes; noise will be an issue for residents on both sides of the river.
- An increase in motorized traffic along the Pan Am Path to empty garbage bins and provide enforcement.
- Commercial dog walkers will be tempted to use the zone.
- Raymore is a neighbourhood park in a quiet residential area; neighbourhood traffic levels will increase greatly.
As you can probably guess, I’m not in favour of the proposal.
Councillor Rob Ford City Staff has have arranged a meeting to discuss the issue September 22, 2015 at 6:30 – 8:30pm in Hilltop Middle School’s Main Gym (35 Trehorne Drive). This City site outlines the process for allowing or denying an off leash zone.
Points of interest in the application process are:
- The zone must also be approved by the Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority as Raymore Park is TRCA property
- The zone would be fenced as it is adjacent to a tree planting area, a natural shoreline and not far from a playground
- The number of licensed dogs in the area is taken into consideration
- A shortage of off-leash zones in the area is not one of the criteria
- Quote: “New off-leash areas will be considered in conjunction with capital redevelopment of existing parks or new park development against the policy criteria.”
In the meantime, the word needs to get out about this threat to the relatively tranquil and natural environment of Raymore Park. Please contact Councillor Ford to let him know what you think of this proposal.
Post Script: Dan Jacobs from Rob Ford’s Office contacted me with the following email:
Thank you for your e-mail.
A point of clarification – Councillor Ford was not involved in setting up this meeting, nor was he behind the proposal in the first place. This has been initiated by City Staff.
Our office will be present at this meeting to make sure we hear directly from those affected by this proposal – there is no staff report that can substitute for input from the members of the community itself.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could amend or add to your blog post to reflect the above information.
Thank you in advance, and I look forward to meeting you on September 22nd.
So much for my reading skills! The info was in Rob’s newsletter and I put two and two together to get five.
Apologies to Councillor Ford and thanks to Dan Jacobs for the correction.