Tag Archives: lions park

March 2017 Construction Progress Report.

Sewer pipe linings awaiting placement.

Sewer pipe linings awaiting placement.

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.

Workers access the main sewer in preparation for re-lining.

Sewer-map

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.

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.

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.

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Raymore Park Leash Free Zone Likely

In spite of the fact that Raymore Park was rejected as a candidate for leash free zone consideration as recently as June 2014, organizers of the recently held residents’ meeting seemed to confirm that the zone is a done deal. Apparently ‘someone’ applied last June, and the City must consider the site. Oddly the city’s reasons against a leash free zone in Raymore were the same as those for rejecting adjacent Lions Park, namely, ‘TRCA, ravine,  natural heritage’. The document may be accessed here.

The meeting was attended by about 25 people and the proposed zone was illustrated – I have outlined an approximation as the organizers distributed no hard copy:

Raymore-Proposed-Leash-Free-Zone

Raymore Park showing the proposed off-leash zone. Google Earth.

The site as it looks now (September 2015)

The site as it looks now (September 2015).

The zone will be about 450 metres from the parking lot yet only about 100 m from nearby residences (the fact they are TCH homes may have eased concerns). The baseball diamonds will remain in place as removing them would involve park owners, TRCA and it’s ‘too much hassle’ according to the meeting organizer. The zone will occupy ¾ of an acre down at the southern baseball diamond in a rectangle following the river about 15 feet from the far side of the path. It will be fenced with pine wood rail fences so at least it won’t look too bad. Its northernmost tip will be about half-way up the open field (perhaps a little further than what I have drawn). I did suggest planting trees to the north of the zone which would hopefully dampen the sound somewhat. The organizers’  positive response to this suggestion may have been a way of easing my concerns; we’ll see. Trees to the south will provide shade. Water and lighting will not be supplied as the location is too remote and the budget small. Supervision by city staff will be minimal thanks to budget restraints and may I cynically suggest, the long walk from the parking lot.

When I suggested that the majority of people using the zone will be with unlicensed dogs, the response was a bit of a metaphorical shrug. From what I gather, nobody will be checking for dog licenses – even in the early days of this thing. Professional dog walkers will be allowed to use the zone.

The proposed opening hours are 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. year-round (even though the park gates are locked from November until April). This will create parking issues along Raymore Drive and Tilden Crescent. Organizers then talked about keeping the gates open year-round which some in the crowd thought was unlikely as even the ploughs get stuck occasionally.

The zone will be installed by spring of next year.

The organizers claim that traffic and noise levels won’t increase by much but they don’t like getting complaints about the zones it will be up to residents to phone 311 if people are abusing the area or being noisy.

There will be one more meeting to discuss the plans based on community input.

Jane’s Walk May 3rd at 5:30pm

Jane's Walk2014-GB

On Saturday, May 3rd, a ‘Jane’s Walk’ will feature the Humber between Lions Park and the weir in Raymore Park. The emphasis will be on Hurricane Hazel and its effects on the environment both natural and human. Some of the stops along the way will be:

Stop 1: Lawrence Avenue Bridge

The effects of Hurricane Hazel and its deluge of water on the bridge and surroundings.

Stop 2: Lion’s Park / Weston Fairground

Stop 3: Raymore Foot Bridge

The history of the footbridge that once existed at this point and its current successor.

Stop 4: Raymore Drive (across bridge)

The ground where 36 people lost their lives; the role of the old bridge. View traces of the settlement that was destroyed.

Stop 5: Raymore Park

The aftermath of Hazel and the organization set up to acquire and manage flood plain land.

Stop 6: Raymore Park dam

The fish ladder and migrating trout. The future of weirs along the Humber.

Stop 7: Chapman Valley Park / Humber Creek

The flooding that occurred at the top of this creek on July 8 2013, and the impact development has had on rivers across the city

Stop 8:

Urban river valleys, the Greenbelt, and the upcoming staff report and vote in city council to add the Humber, Don, and Etobicoke Creek to the Greenbelt.

  • Option 1: Retrace our steps along the Humber path,
  • Option 2: walk through the streets, past the wooden church at Scarlett and Kingdom, down Raymore Drive, crossing back over Raymore bridge and ending back up at Lion’s Park.

Walk Leaders:

Mary Louise Ashbourne (Weston Historical Society)
Gaspar Horvath (TRCA)
Roy Murray (Humber Watershed Alliance)
Shelley Petrie (Friends of the Greenbelt)
Michael Cook (Lost Rivers)

Meeting point: Car park at Lawrence Avenue and Little Avenue (Cruickshank Park) at 5:30pm.

 

It’s your park too; get involved!

The Toronto Parks System is huge, occupying 12% of the city and consisting of hundreds of parks of varying size. Some are tiny little parkettes measured in square metres while others are measured in hectares. While it would be wonderful to have park staff available on site to solve problems at each location, sadly, this is not possible.  At one time, contacting a park supervisor was a laborious process. Now thanks to 311, it’s a lot easier.

So what can an ordinary resident do if they see a problem in their local park?

In my experience, Toronto’s  311 system, has made contact with park supervisors a lot easier. Operators will either forward your call to the voice mailbox of a supervisor or they will write up a work order themselves.

Here is an example of a situation I recently tackled in Lions Park, which is the one next to Raymore.

The problem:

Litter is the enemy of parks. It’s a hazard to wildlife and it puts off visitors. When litter levels reach a certain point, ordinary visitors and sightseers begin to drop away. Litter that stays on the ground actually attracts more, as people are less inhibited when the place is already a mess. It’s tough to fight human nature.

Lions Park contains a sports complex which includes a FIFA standard soccer field. Quite often, secondary soccer games spring up and for goalposts, garbage and recycling bins were easily commandeered from various positions around the park. After the game, the bins either stayed or ended up around the main field leaving vast areas without bins. Garbage became even more of a problem. In addition, the location of the bins was problematic as the photos will illustrate.

These stairs generate a large amount of garbage.

These stairs generate a large amount of garbage – no bins in sight.

Bins are located far from the stairs.

Bins (on right of picture) are located far from the stairs.

The stairs are often used as bleachers as they are above the soccer field. They also act as a hang-out spot. While it’s impractical to place bins on the stairs, no bins were visible making disposal inconvenient.

Bleachers - another big source of litter.

Bleachers – another big source of litter and bins too far away.

Bleachers generate large amounts of garbage. These back onto the delicate ecosystem of the Humber while the nearest bins were too far away.

With a problem outlined and a strategy for improvement in my head, I phoned 311. Unfortunately it was not possible to leave a message for the Park Supervisor as her phone mailbox was constantly full.

With the supervisor unavailable, I again called 311 and action was promised. Sure enough, stakes were hammered into the ground and as is standard practice, bins wired to them. Unfortunately, there was nothing to stop anyone disconnecting the wires and removing the bins. Within a couple of days, the bins had returned to being goalposts. To make matters worse, bins had been located poorly.

Eventually, the park supervisor got back to me after I placed a call to 311 and her boss. She explained that bin placement was not decided by Toronto Parks. The people who remove the waste now decide locations. A call made to Solid Waste Management soon got me in touch with Carson Freeman who agreed to come out and meet me on site. We discussed the issues and decided on a course of action which was carried out.

To cut a long story short, within a relatively short period of time, action was taken. Bins were placed in better locations and padlocked into place. The Parks supervisor sent a crew to clean up the garbage by the stairs and a new start was made.

People can now see a bin when descending the stairs.

People can now see a bin when descending the newly cleaned stairs.

Bleachers have a bin that's closer.

These bins are harder to ignore.

Bins at the foot of the stairs (as well as at the top).

Bins at the foot of the stairs (as well as at the top).

The clincher - padlocks to stop bins from wandering.

The clincher – padlocks to stop bins from wandering.

I’m guessing that such intervention by an ordinary citizen is rare. The level of cooperation was outstanding – after all, park staff want clean parks too. They can’t be in every park every day but rely on knowledgeable citizen responses much of the time to point out problems and suggest solutions. By politely pointing out a concern and offering a workable solution, private citizens and parks management can work together to solve park problems.

Incidentally, the people who drop much of the litter are probably still doing so. Despite that, the new bin placement acts as a visible nag to do the right thing, makes things easier for responsible citizenry as well as for ‘park angels’ who actively pick up litter when they see it.

Want to get involved? – It’s a great thing to do. Just remember the three ‘P’s, Politeness, Persistence, and a well thought out Plan.

Another winter view of the footbridge.

This is the Humber footbridge from the other side of the river.

The old bridge abutment is in the left foreground.

The old bridge abutment is on the left centre of the photo.

More people were in the park today as the path has been beaten down by the pioneers! A nice sunny day with some interesting shadows on the snow.

A couple of Siberian Elms cast their shadows.

A couple of Siberian Elms cast their shadows.

 

 

If you build it, they (still) won’t come.

Smack in the middle of Raymore Park is a pair of baseball diamonds occupying a space that extends from the valley walls almost to the river. They have sat unused for the past 6 years. In spite of this, the grass is cut regularly and the infields have been graded until recently.

Looking south from the smaller diamond.

Looking south from the smaller diamond. The bleachers are falling apart.

I emailed our Councillor (Doug Ford) last March about the lack of use:

The south end of Raymore Park has a couple of baseball diamonds that have sat unused for at least 5 years. The bleachers beside the north diamond are in a dangerous condition and attract an assorted collection of drinkers and pot smokers as well as lots of garbage. In spite of this, the diamonds are faithfully graded several times a season even though nobody books or uses them and it would be impossible to play there because the base lines are obstructed by 20′ tall sumac.This whole field comprises several acres and is never used as it is too far away from the parking lot. It is however mowed several times a season.

Perhaps it might be a good spot to let nature take over (as has been done in the field to the south) as well as stop grading the diamonds.

I enclose some photographs to illustrate the situation.

The park manager phoned me and said that there may be plans to replace the diamonds with either a soccer field or a cricket pitch (there is a FIFA quality soccer field in Lions Park across the bridge and lots of cricket pitches in the Humber Flats). During the summer a team of workers cleared the bush away from the large diamond. Several workers spent at least 5 days on this task.

Looking north from the larger diamond.

Looking north from the larger diamond. Brush was cleared from behind the chain link.

This is a huge piece of land and could be an amazing wildlife haven along the Humber corridor. If planted with native trees it could be an attractive wooded area in a few decades. Believe it or not, until 2000, the enlightened minds in the parks system used to spray this area with Roundup (weed killer from the lovely people at Monsanto) until the practice was banned by City Council.

Hopefully, some more enlightenment will trickle down.