Sunday, February 16, 2020


The City of Toronto is running a study to find out how the City's existing Dogs Off-Leash Areas (OLAs) accommodate an increasing human and dog population.  We want to hear what you think about the study's draft recommendations for improving existing off-leash areas.  The survey closes on February 18, 2020, so please take a few minutes now to let your opinion be known; click on the link below:


Shoreline reinforcement along the marina's eastern shore with added fill
and rocks thrown onto ice (reducing the effectiveness of the flood barrier).
Feb. 2020. 
 Photo by Brian Bailey
Many regular park users will notice how the regular cycle of water levels in Lake Ontario has changed over the last several years.  Flooding in the spring of 2019 alone altered the shoreline, in some cases drastically, and trails became impassable for months. 
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has been deploying different tools to remediate the effects of flooding, including adding rock fill to reinforce the seawall along the marina. Similar water level fluctuations may be expected in spring 2020; we'll be monitoring to see how well the new barrier stands up.  

Spring flooding still blocked the marina's eastern trail as late as
June 2019, when this photo was taken. 
Photo by Nancy Barrett

Flooded trail, June 2019. Photo by Nancy Barrett
Find further info about this project at this link.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting                                         
January 27th, 2020
6:30PM, LAMP, 185 5th Street, Etobicoke

COL. SAM CLEAN UP DAY WITH ALAN ROY: April 19, 2020 (Sunday), 9am-3pm. Rain or shine. For more information, check blog or:

ANNUAL COL. SAM BIRD FESTIVAL: May 23 (Saturday). Kids’ activities. Bird walks. Nature exhibits. Check the blog and/or the following web site for details:

NEW TORONTO HOLIDAY MARKET: Deemed a great success for both kids and adults. Thanks to all who attended in spite of the wind and the rain. FOSS has been asked to participate again in 2020. FOSS hopes to expand the activities on offer. Adults particularly enjoyed making Christmas “swags”. They will definitely be available once more in 2020.

BOXING DAY BIRD COUNT: FOSS thanks all participants. For results, check the blog.

BURDOCK REMOVAL/PLANTING PROJECT: Tentatively scheduled for a weekday in June. Check the blog for updates. FOSS will work in conjunction with the TRCA. Continuing work begun in July 2019, burdock will be eradicated from Whimbrel Point. The area will then be re-planted with wildlife-friendly native plants. Volunteers are much appreciated.

APPLE ORCHARD: FOSS has indicated its concern over the status of the apple orchard and what may happen to the land  if the orchard is not maintained. Humber Lakeshore Principal (Mr. Derek Stockley) has been made aware of these concerns. He has indicated that Humber is presently consulting a landscape architect and an orchard specialist. A follow-up with the community is promised once talks with the City of Toronto have been concluded.

POLLINATOR MEADOW: Representatives from FOSS met in the park (January 27th) with city staff and four students from Fleming College in Lindsay. As part of a course project, the students will produce a Citizen Science Pollinator Monitoring Guide designed to aid interested FOSS volunteers with monitoring the success of the pollinator garden over time.

WASHROOM AVAILABILITY: Washrooms at the Ken Cox Community Centre are open to the public during the opening hours of the centre—including evenings. A sign at the bus stop indicates their location. After skating season ends, contact Mary Campbell ( 338-7027) at Councillor Grimes’ office if the washrooms at the Powerhouse are not open.

BEAVER-CUT TREES: Beavers have cut down several larger trees in Col. Sam. FOSS has learned that although TRCA will provide protective mesh, it will NOT provide the workers to install it. Such work would have to be done by volunteers.

COYOTES WITH MANGE: Three coyotes suffering from mange frequent both Col. Sam and Humber Bay Parks. The Toronto Wildlife Centre is monitoring these animals. Dog owners are advised to keep their pets on a leash. When/if possible, the coyotes will be captured and treated. These animals are extremely wary and suffer greatly from stress when captured.

VIEWING PLATFORM GRATING: The city plans to replace the grating on the viewing platform with a mesh narrow enough to safely accommodate wheel chairs/baby buggies. The work is not scheduled to take place until after the May 23rd Bird Festival.

DRUG/GARBAGE/TREE PLATFORM PROBLEMS AT COL. SAM: Discarded drug paraphernalia and litter are on-going detriments in the park, particularly in the North Creek area. Visitors are asked to notify the police at 416 808-2200 for drug infractions and 311 for trash build-up. Any problems reported to 311 are greatly strengthened when accompanied with a photo.

Friday, January 3, 2020


We would like to thank all the participants in the count for sending in their findings and several photos.

The photos are courtesy of Brian Bailey and Sandra Hawkins.

Click here to see full size PDF of results.



Friday, December 6, 2019


Volunteers needed!

How it’s done?

See the attached park map and link to the Winter Bird Count List for Colonel Sam Smith Park. Print the list.

Go out in to the park area shown on the map on December 26 (Boxing Day) and look for birds . Keep track of the time of day you visited the park, all the bird species you saw in the park or on the water as well as how many of each species you found. Send a list along to Brian at FOSS (see address below) so we can add them to the overall Christmas Bird Count. If the weather is poor on the 26th then use the 27th for your count.

Here is a link to a printable list for you to use for your count.

Try to send a photo with or without birds. We will try to place some of the photos on the FOSS website (no faces please)
Send your Bird Count to:  Brian Keaveney, President of FOSS, at by Dec. 28th.

You can scan your list and send the scan by email or just include the data in the body of the email. Results will be posted on the FOSS website.

Note: Bring a colour bird book with you to help identify birds or ask another birder that day.

Make it a fun family outing and stay warm

Brian Keaveney

Monday, December 2, 2019


Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting
November 25th, 2019
6:30PM, LAMP, 185 5th Street, Etobicoke

  • SKATE WITH SANTA: December 7, 12-4pm. Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail. Come visit the FOSS table after the Lakeshore Santa Claus Parade Get your FOSS brochures, memberships, and buttons. Play the “habitat game”.
  • NEW TORONTO HOLIDAY MARKET: December 14, 10am-3pm. 2 Colonel Sam Smith Drive (Humber Interpretive Centre). In support of LAMP Community Health Centre. Join FOSS in making kid-friendly seasonal crafts using natural materials such as pine cones, acorns, bark, and moss. FOSS t-shirts, hats, memberships and Col. Sam bird calendars will be for sale. 
  • PUMPKIN PARADE AT COLONEL SAM PARK: Deemed to be a great success. FOSS thanks all visitors, especially those folks who brought so many spectacular pumpkins. Another Pumpkin Parade is planned for 2020. Suggestion for future participants: use baby food jars as wind protection for your candles.
  • BIRD FEEDERS: Once again, FOSS has installed (and will maintain) five bird feeders around the perimeter of the skating trail. Thanks to the volunteers who make this project a success.
  • BOXING DAY (DECEMBER 26) BIRD COUNT: FOSS encourages both individuals and families to participate and to contribute to this “citizen science” project. Check the blog for a list of birds previously observed in Col. Sam. Submission details for both observations and photos to be announced. Rain/snow date: December 27.
  • BEAVER-CUT TREES: Beavers have cut down several larger trees in Col. Sam. FOSS will request mesh be placed around remaining vulnerable trees.
  • UNWANTED/DANGEROUS TREE STRUCTURES: In spite of some dismantling by authorities, the structures have been rebuilt in the trees to the east of North Creek. Refer to last month’s report provided below for more details.
  •  “GOINGS-ON” IN COLONEL SAM: Smoke has been seen billowing out of the area creating a possible fire hazard. Concerned park users have reported individuals engaging in sex nearby. A mattress has already been removed. The builders appear to be young students. FOSS has notified Humber College as well as neighbourhood high schools. FOSS has submitted a report (complete with photos) to 311. FOSS urges concerned park users to do the same.
  • ON-GOING CONCERNS:   DRUG/GARBAGE PROBLEMS AT COL. SAM: Discarded drug paraphernalia and litter are on-going detriments in the park, particularly in the North Creek area. Visitors are asked to notify the police at 416 808-2200 for drug infractions and 311 for trash build-up. Any problems reported to 311 are greatly strengthened when accompanied with a photo.

Thursday, November 28, 2019



WILD WINGS 2020: The Birds of Col. Sam Smith Park

Something new! I've created a calendar featuring the beautiful birds that are seen in the park: Those that breed here and those that pass through the sanctuary that is Col. Sam Smith Park.

A portion of sales will go towards the Friends of Sam Smith Park (FOSS) and the LAMP Community Centre. Calendars are $20 each (plus shipping).

Contact me SOON with your orders! This calendar will also be on sale at the Lakeshore Grounds Holiday Market on December 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Look for the FOSS tables!

Many thanks to FOSS for their sponsorship.

Nancy Barrett

You can contact Nancy directly at

Saturday, November 2, 2019


We had 45 imaginatively carved pumpkins last night at our inaugural "pumpkin parade".  Thanks to all those who participated.  FOSS volunteers had their work cut out to keep the candles burning in the strong chilly wind, but perseverance paid off and everyone had a good time.  There were other challenges and some learning curves ... but all of that will just make next year's parade all the better.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting
October 28th, 2019
6:34PM, LAMP, 185 5th Street, Etobicoke

PUMPKIN PARADE AT COLONEL SAM PARK: Friday, November 1. Drop-off begins 5:00PM onward. Pumpkin lighting 6:00-7:00PM. Location: the traffic circle next to the south parking lot. FOSS will compost all pumpkins afterward.

METAL SIGN NEAR YACHT CLUB: The original sign was stolen and later found (in pieces) in the water. The city has indicated that a new sign will be erected in a more secure location.

APPLE ORCHARD: FOSS is pursuing heritage status for Colonel Sam’s apple orchard as possible protection against future development.
NON NATIVE TREE PLANTINGS AT COLONEL SAM: TRCA plans to remove these plantings.

“GOINGS-ON” IN COLONEL SAM: Several structures/platforms have been erected in the trees to the east of North Creek. Smoke has been seen billowing out of the area creating a possible fire hazard. Concerned park users have reported individuals engaging in sex nearby. A mattress has already been removed. The builders appear to be young students. FOSS has notified Humber College as well as neighbourhood high schools. FOSS has submitted a report (complete with photos) to 311. FOSS urges concerned park users to do the same.

SHORELINE EROSION: The City plans to fix shoreline erosion and trail flooding problems in November. Smaller stones have already been placed as infill behind the larger rocks.

NEW BENCHES AND BRIDGE MAINTENANCE: Several new benches have been installed throughout Colonel Sam. The bridge near the yacht club has received new decking.

HOLIDAY MARKET AT HUMBER COLLEGE: DECEMBER 14, 10am to 3pm. Details to be announced. Watch blog for details.

DRUG/GARBAGE PROBLEMS AT COL. SAM: Discarded drug paraphernalia and litter are on-going detriments in the park, particularly in the North Creek area. Visitors are asked to notify the police at 416 808-2200 for drug infractions and 311 for trash build-up. Any problems reported to 311 are greatly strengthened when accompanied with a photo.

Friday, October 4, 2019


Scientists called the results "staggering": a net loss of almost 3 billion breeding birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970, according to a new study in the journal Science. The across-the-board losses include many common, beloved species such as Dark-eyed Juncos and Red-winged Blackbirds. 

CLICK HERE to find out more about this massive decline and the causes behind it. 

This alarming study reminds us again of the importance of protecting and enhancing the natural environment, even in small pockets like Sam Smith Park, if we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the presence of birds and other wildlife.

There are helpful actions that can also be taken around the house.

Sunday, September 22, 2019



First, TRCA, Toronto Region Conservation Authority, went in and dug up all the burdock in this area by the roots.  Black tarp was laid down in spring.
Plastic mat was removed this week, and a hemp mulch mat was laid over the whole planting area.  This will break down in 3-5 years- enough time to give the new plants a good start.  After plants were put in the ground, a layer of tree mulch was laid on the whole area as well, and the plants were all watered by a couple of very energetic volunteers!

Species planted - Alleghany Blackberry; Flowering Raspberry; Red Osier Dogwood; Pasture Rose; St. John's Wort; 3 Eastern White Pine.

2 samples of each species were measured and statistics recorded.  These sample plants have a green ribbon on them, which should not be removed.  This site will be monitored by TRCA for the next 5 years, and the progress of these individual plants will be recorded for comparison purposes.  

Thank you to Jacob Mokrzynski and the TRCA for organizing this whole project!



Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), in partnership with the City of Toronto, is planning to undertake minor maintenance repairs on an existing seawall structure in Colonel Samuel Smith Park in order to protect against the hazards of shoreline erosion and address public safety concerns. The seawall is located along the inner shoreline of the park near the Lakeshore Yacht Club.

Works are tentatively scheduled to commence the week of October 14, 2019 and are anticipated to take three weeks in duration. The maintenance works will address damage to the seawall and adjacent brick platform that was caused by the 2017 and 2019 record high lake level events. Repairs will include the replacement of rock material behind the seawall and the placement of gravel underneath the platform to fill existing voids. This work will strengthen the existing shoreline, help stabilize the park trail, and provide increased protection to park users.

The site will be accessed by Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive from the intersection of Kipling Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard West. Trucks will enter the park from the cul-de-sac at the end of Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive and travel to the work area along the park trail. All deliveries will be guided by a Traffic Control Person who will direct trucks down the main trail to the work area while watching for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail within the immediate work area will be closed to park users to ensure public safety. Several "Notice of Construction" and "Trail Closure" signs will be placed along the trails leading to the work area to notify park users of the upcoming construction and available detour routes. Work hours will conform to City bylaws with activities taking place between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm daily. It is estimated that a total of 20-25 truck deliveries will be required to supply project materials. The majority of deliveries will take place in the early stages (first week) of the construction timeline, with a range of 2-4 deliveries per day during this time.

Prior to the commencement of construction activities, TRCA will provide a Notice of Construction letter that can be posted on school bulletin boards to inform students, parents, and staff members. TRCA and its drivers are aware of the multiple school campuses in the vicinity of the access route and student safety will be of utmost importance throughout the duration of the works. A map which highlights all school locations, crosswalks, and trail crossings along the access route will be provided to all delivery drivers to ensure that extra caution is taken while proceeding through these areas (please see attached map). Traffic Control Persons will facilitate the navigation of trucks within the park, further ensuring the safety of all park users and students in the area.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


We have finally put together a map of the park with landmarks labelled on it, the purpose being to standardize location postings.  This should improve the accuracy of wildlife sightings, especially for those unfamiliar with the park.

The names are based on personal knowledge and what we understand to be common park usage.  We had to invent some new ones. 

While understanding that it is, essentially, an impossible task to come up with something that satisfies everyone in every detail, hopefully our efforts will, in time, prove useful.

The map can be downloaded here. 

Friday, September 13, 2019


It has long been felt that poor conditions at the Sam Smith Park off-leash area are not very attractive to dog owners and, in fact, push owners to walk their dogs in the environmentally sensitive areas of the park, often off leash. The more appealing the dog park becomes, the more people will use it, leading to fewer off-leash dogs in unsanctioned areas.

FOSS has previously written to Councillor Grimes with suggestions for dog park improvements .....

The City of Toronto is currently conducting a formal study of existing off-leash areas. The purpose of the study is to identify necessary/desired improvements.  Here is the link to the study.

There are three ways to take part in the study:
  1. Take the online survey. It's critical to get your thoughts documented.
  2. Attend one of the pop-up consultations at a dog park this fall.
  3. Write  (Ian works for Swerhun Facilitation, and has been hired by Thinc Design (the City's consultants) to be the point person on the project. You could also email, the general inbox for dogs off-leash areas.
The survey is pretty good. Know that if you identify yourself as a dog owner, you'll get the full survey, giving you the chance to express feedback on dog park design and more. If you say you don't have a dog, you'll only get a handful of questions. One question is about negative effects to the environment by off-leash dogs. Please tell it like it is. Please also include any solutions you'd like to suggest, if you wish.


Click here for more information and to book free ticket.

Sunday, September 8, 2019


We hope all you nature and wildlife photographers out there are filling your camera cards with images from Col. Sam Smith Park for next year's Nature Sanctuary Photo Contest!