Residents and their dogs gather Monday July 10 for the official Raymore Park leash-free zone opening. Note the entrance to the small dog zone (black gate) is not directly accessible from the park.
Quite a few dog owners and their pets were present on Monday evening for the official opening of Raymore Park’s leash free zone. Councillor Mike Ford had organized the event and worked the crowd, introducing himself informally to residents and later made a short speech. People seemed pleased with the facility but the councillor heard a few concerns; namely that the topping of ‘pea gravel’ used to improve drainage seems to bother some pets. The lack of shade was another issue as was access to the small dogs’ zone (currently entered from the large dogs’ zone).
Ward 2 Councillor Mike Ford speaks to the assembled crowd.
Councillor Ford seemed sympathetic to these and other concerns and promised some consultation with the people from Toronto Parks (Parks Supervisor Lynn Essensa was in attendance). He also sympathized with the patience of residents who have put up with Raymore Park’s long period of being a construction zone and said he was working on getting the last remaining project (sewer pipe re-lining) expedited.
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.
The proposed area may have grown (probably northwards) by a small amount because of the addition of a separate small dog section. There was some discussion as to the nature of the surface of the area which apparently will be 4-6″ of pea gravel on top of a mesh filter which will help with drainage. As mentioned, plans are to divide the area into two parts for small and large dogs so there will be two gates and two paved pathways from the Pan-Am Trail for access. The small dog area would be for dogs 20 lbs and under. Regardless, all dogs should be under the owner’s control at all times. Dangerous dogs should not use the area. See Code of Conduct below.*
Fencing will be post and paddle, 1.5 m tall and made of northern pine. It will be reinforced with wire mesh 4-6″ deep to deter dogs that dig. Benches will be installed for owners.
There will be a delay in the opening of the area because of work currently ongoing on the retaining wall. This is taking longer than expected. There is only one entrance to the park and so the retaining wall and another job – an upgrade to the path will be done first; after that, sewer work will be ongoing. The reckoning is that the area will take about a month to set up and will be open by ‘Thanksgiving at the latest’.
One piece of good news is that TRCA has plans to plant trees along the north end of the area and between the area and the ravine slope. This will provide storm runoff relief and shade for the area (and perhaps some sound mitigation for nearby homes).
Hours of operation: 7 am – 9 pm but locals will be able to access the area at any time. The parking lot will continue to be locked at 9:30pm daily and re-open at 8:00am and will be closed for the Winter between November 1st and April 30.
There was a reminder to residents that the area will be self-policing and that they should supervise and pick up after their pets. There was confusion as to where to put dog waste – in the garbage or the recycling. This will be cleared up later (the location not the waste).
Sadly there is still no link on the City website to the plans or even the current state of off-leash parks.
*Code of Conduct for Off Leash Area
Municipal Code Chapter #608
Comply with all signs and boundaries.
Dog(s) must be on leash at all times except when in the designated off-leash area.
All dog(s) must have a visible municipal license affixed to the dog(s).
Dog(s) must remain in off-leash area so as not to trample or endanger plant material and other park resources.
Dog(s) excluded from off-leash areas include:
Pit Bulls or other dangerous animal
Female dogs in heat
Any dog(s) that has been issued a muzzle order by the Medical Officer of Health.
Dogs shall not chase wildlife.
Pick up after your dog(s) and place waste in receptacle or take home for disposal.
Keep dogs in sight and under control at all times.
Do not leave dog(s) unattended while in off-leash area.
Repair holes dug by the dog(s) under your control.
The view from the safety of a neighbour’s back yard.
While we’ve rounded the corner in terms of daylight hours, a severe ice storm has dumped a thick layer of ice on the park. Many trees are leaning and severely stressed with the extra burden. To complicate matters, moderate winds are forecast and there seems to be no possibility of a thaw in the next few days. Sorry about the lack of photos but the park is an ice sheet.
In the meantime, best wishes to all for the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations.
A couple of updates while we’re waiting for spring.
I discovered the identity of the ‘Douche’ who has been leaving packages of dog poo around the park. Yesterday, I brought a plastic shopping bag with me so that I could grab the odd bits of litter as I walked through the park. I passed by the lower entrance to the woods and the pile of bags that were left there all winter. There were four of them and another three along the way including a fresh one hanging on a tree. Into the plastic bag with all of them.
Before… notice the very old one at 11 o’clock from the newer pile of 3.
After doing my civic duty (and seething about the fresh bag of dog crap left hanging on a tree), I was talking about the ‘Poo Bomber‘ (also mentioned here) to a fellow dog owner; let’s call him Dave, and he said, ‘That’s me. Rather than carry them all the way through the park, I leave them and pick them up later’. Needless to say I was gobsmacked and mentioned that many had not been picked up. ‘That’s not me’, Dave insisted. This was just after picking up seven identical bags scattered through the woods – including the one on the tree. I didn’t press the point but at least I’m not watching out for who it is any more. Hopefully Dave will get the hint from now on. I mentioned that I keep a blog and he keeps telling me he’ll get around to reading it. I guess I’ll know when he does.
As for what I thought was a BMX track in the woods, I saw it in use the other day. A couple of adults and a small child came down the hill following a remote controlled toy truck of some kind. The track is for the toy and everyone stands and watches this thing trundle its way over the course. Go figure.
Spring has yet to impose itself on this part of the world although the ice left along the banks of the Humber has almost all melted. A sad testament to the nursery trees torn up by the ice is the spiral plastic protectors which somehow have remained.
Native trees were planted here two years ago – some didn’t make it through the winter.
This weather-beaten piece of driftwood was left behind by melting ice and has a nice texture.
Shadows on driftwood.
A good variety of birds was making the most of today’s strong sunshine. This robin posed nicely for me.
There’s something sad yet majestic about a dead tree. To look at the living organism that once was evokes sadness. Trees along this stretch of the Humber are constantly being damaged by ice stripping away their bark. I liked the way light from the snow is reflecting onto the branches.
These trees are stark reminders of the power of ice along low-lying stretches of the Humber.
River ice comes in a huge number of forms.
This large pile-up of ice is crowned by a beautiful clear chunk which caught my eye.