Work proceeds in full swing on the sewer relining project. Instead of replacing the sewers, new linings are being pushed and pulled to line the insides of the original pipe. Apparently this will allow a few more years before the old pipes need to be replaced. This means another 18 months of heavy slogging along the Humber valley.
Workers access the main sewer in preparation for re-lining.
City of Toronto map showing the path of the sewer and its main access points.
The footbridge connecting Lions Park with Hickory Tree Road is almost complete and will make a difference to the many people on foot who move between Weston and Etobicoke. The new version is wider, all metal (except for railings and trim) and has viewing decks that will be useful during soccer games on the artificial turf below.
One of the decks of the new footbridge during construction.
The new bridge shouldn’t require salt (the old wooden one was regularly salted in winter) and it will have bicycle troughs for walking bicycles up and down.
The leash free zone further down Raymore Park is taking shape. The surface has been laid and fencing is under way. The two areas for different sized dogs are becoming evident. This project should be ready by summer.
Panoramic view of the new area looking north. Click to zoom.
Finally, although the Humber River retaining wall was completed late last year, the staging area used to construct the project has been restored and now this blank canvas awaits re-planting, hopefully this spring.
There seems to be little going on at the retaining wall site these days. It may have to do with negotiations ongoing with the owner at the north end of the wall. If the owner withholds permission for the wall to be completed on the end property, plans will need to be adjusted.
Old retaining wall blocks are stacked along the opposite shore.
The old retaining wall is being removed in preparation for a newer taller model.
Incidentally, the storm sewer pipe that is visible in the second image is one of hundreds that flow into the Humber. The structure above it may serve to prevent slope erosion.
An Asian ladybug clambers over some fragrant willow flowers by the Humber in Raymore Park.
Cool weather continues to make spring a long season this year. The upside to this is the ability to watch plants come to life in slow motion.
Willow trees (Latin name, Salix) are common in Raymore Park and they are native to Canada. They love watery environments and are easily propagated. They can be seen planted throughout the park, although, like walnuts, they don’t need much encouragement. Their flowers are particularly fragrant and have a lilac type smell.
The ancient Greeks knew about the medicinal abilities of willow bark extract to cut pain and reduce a fever. Native Canadians also used it in the same way. Scientists in the 19th Century extracted a chemical, which they named salicin, from the bark and converted it to salicylic acid and later still, to acetylsalicylic acid. The drug in this form is still in wide use today and more commonly known as ASA or aspirin.
As for the Asian ladybug, this was introduced by farmers in the U.S. to fight aphids and they do that job very well. Unfortunately they are not as benign as our native ladybugs and tend to find crevices in homes as well as contaminate grapes used in wines. They have to a large extent displaced our native bug. One year at a Niagara winery I drank some red wine which was ‘flavour enhanced’ with large numbers of the creatures accidentally harvested with the grapes. They have an unforgettable and bitter taste! It didn’t seem to bother anyone else so I let it go. Canadians can be very polite and forgiving.
Wineries now take precautions not to harvest ladybugs along with their grapes.
Winter is finally over – the signs are everywhere but interestingly, native plants are some of the last to leaf and bloom, possibly as a protection from our continental climate’s treacherous ability to produce late snowfalls and frosts.
Imports feel no such constraint. Alongside the old path that follows the curve of the river, some old exotic plants remain from the days when people had homes by the water. Many of these remnants of domestication are unnoticed but somehow they have survived and stand as a mute testament to the victims of Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
An exotic tiny blossom.
Day lilies carpet this fertile flood-prone corner of the park.
A lilac bush has begun to leaf and flower buds are set to bloom in a couple of weeks.
This pond was carved out of the ground a few years ago as a result of an ice-jam temporarily diverting the river. It was promptly occupied by eastern American toads. No sign of this year’s eggs or tadpoles yet.
A carpet of toad lilies has sprung up in the woods south of the weir.
The retaining wall base has been wrapped in plastic.
Work has slowed considerably at the site because migrating steelheads (better known as rainbow trout) are spawning in the Humber and rather than disturb their progress up the river, TRCA has ordered a hiatus in work until they complete their spawning. This will depend on the water temperature and will delay the wall’s construction for a while.
More brush was removed from the site recently and the staging area has been expanded, possibly for additional storage space. Further down the river, a mysterious rope has been stretched across the river. The purpose of the rope remains to be determined.
The staging area has been expanded south to include this land.
Further down the river, a rope has been stretched across the Humber.
The rope across the Humber is beginning to catch driftwood.
Work continues unabated at the site and the size and scope of the job is becoming apparent. More and more blocks are piling up in the staging area and the components for a temporary bridge that will straddle the river have arrived. The bridge will be placed across the river and support the crane that will build the retaining wall. Each block is labelled with its weight which is vital knowledge for the crane operator. The bridge will be re-positioned along the banks as required.
The project was originally scheduled for completion for the end of March but clearly there is still a massive task ahead.
Interestingly, the second photo was taken on February 29th and in the top right of the image can be seen the very small amount of ice pushed ashore during the thaw. This is the smallest amount of ice I have seen in years and quickly melted.
Blocks are piled up awaiting placement.
Each block is labelled with its weight. Notice the small amount of ice freshly deposited as a result of the thaw.
Girders that will be used to make a bridge to straddle the river.
The bridge girders and limestone blocks in the background.
What looks like the beginnings of an abutment on which the bridge will rest.
All last week, trucks rumbled into Raymore Park delivering old bricks and concrete blocks (clean fill).
I braved the bitter cold this afternoon to find out what was going on. Rather than building a stable roadway along which trucks can approach the river, the whole of the fenced off land is being laid with about 40cm of clean fill to create a working area that stretches to the river’s edge from which the retaining wall can be constructed.
Topsoil scraped from the area can be seen (right) and brick rubble ready to be spread over the remainder of the land is on the left. To get an idea of the scale of this endeavour, there’s a person standing by the orange fencing (far left).
The depth and size of the rubble layer can also be seen here.
Apparently the plan is for the rubble to be carted away again and the topsoil replaced after the job is completed.
A closer look at the brick rubble and (eventually) the old topsoil waiting to be spread over the park surface.
One permanent change that may have been made; the old basement depressions from homes swept away during Hurricane Hazel are probably gone.