Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"FEARLESS" - BRYN CHRISTOPHER

The last part of his video was filmed on a cold morning at third beach a few weeks ago. Bryn Christopher is a well-known soul singer from England.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

FOSS MEETING NEXT TUESDAY

There is a FOSS meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 9 at 7 p.m. at LAMP, room. 302. We will be discussing the current status of the proposed skating trail, the proposal for a nature centre in the power house and other issues.
Everyone is welcome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

RESPONSE FROM MOE ABOUT SKATING TRAIL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Allen Valk, Chairperson of Friends of Sam Smith Park, today received the following response from John Gerretsen, Minister of the Environment, responding to FOSS's support for CCFEW's request for an Environmental Assessment of the Skating Trail project. CCFEW's request is denied. A City arborist's report is pending.


Thank you for your letter of September 30, 2008 which supports the request made by the Citizens Concerned about the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW) for a project specific regulation designating the proposed outdoor skating track in the City of Toronto (City) as an undertaking to which the Environmental Assessment Act applies.
The Ministry of the Environment has completed its review of the request made by CCFEW and has determined that the proposed outdoor ice skating track does not warrant the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA).
This decision has been made on the basis that the City's proposal is consistent with the City's Official Plan policies, the strategies of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and that the proposal does not violate any existing EA approvals.
As you may be aware, the proposed skating track has been the subject of a number of design and planning exercises that have included numerous opportunities for interested persons and organizations to make their concerns known. The City has advised that further opportunities will be provided for area residents and organizations to participate in the detailed design process and programming of the facility. I am satisfied that the City has provided the opportunity for residents and organizations to make their concerns with the proposed outdoor skating track known and that additional opportunities will be available to participate in the detailed design of the skating track.
With regard to the potential environmental impact of this proposal, the City has confirmed that an arborist's analysis will be completed in the near future, and together with a report, will be brought forward for the consideration of Etobicoke York Community Council. Working with the TRCA, City staff will identify methods to mitigate the impact of the proposal on the existing vegetation and wildlife. I am satisfied that the City will conduct an appropriate assessment of the potential environmental effects on the skating track proposal.
As a result of the foregoing, concerns regarding the use and development of the site are best addressed at the municipal level, and I would encourage your continued participation with City staff as they proceed to the detailed design stage for the outdoor skating track. Additional opportunities will be provided by the City for questions to be asked and for the City to respond to any concerns raised. A regulation designating the City's proposal as an undertaking to which the requirements of the EAA applies is, therefore, not necessary. Should you require further assistance, please contact Mr. D. Jeffrey Dea, Project Officer with the ministry's Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, at 416-314-7213 or bye-mail
atjeffrey.dea@ontario.ca.

IRRIGATION SYSTEM FOR OVAL PLAYING FIELD

Jorge Ture has told us that the work shown is related to the installation of an automatic water system to improve the surface of the oval for cricket and Aussie-rules football.

Friday, November 28, 2008

FORMATION OF NEW WATERSHED ACTION GROUP

Sam Smith Park is part of the watershed area covered by this action group. As a FOSS member, please consider going to this meeting and signing up.
Want to make a valuable contribution to the environment?
Please join us for the inaugural meeting of the
SOUTH ETOBICOKE COMMUNITY
ACTION AREA
Tuesday December 2, 2008 @ 7pm
Etobicoke Civic Centre, Community Room #1
The Etobicoke-Mimico Watersheds Coalition, a watershed group of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), would like to share some of the environmental projects in this area and invite you to join the South Etobicoke Community Action Area Group.
Initiatives include:
Trail Construction and Signage
Centennial Park Master Plan
Healthy Yards Program
Valleyland Restoration
Fish Barrier Mitigation on Etobicoke Creek
Marie Curtis Park and Arsenal Lands Implementation
Please confirm your attendance with Joanna Parsons:
jparsons@trca.on.ca or by phone at 416-661-6600 ext.5575
Click here for the meeting agenda (pdf)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

COMMUTER FERRY TERMINUS AT SAM SMITH?

*** Ruth Grier informs us that City Council squashed the idea this week ***

There has been recent discussion at the TTC about offering a downtown commuter ferry from both the western and eastern limits of the city to the ferry docks. Colonel Samuel Smith Park and Humber Bay have been suggested as potential sites for the western terminus. At this time, it looks like there is going to be a hold on exploring this idea any further. One can only imagine the extensive parking and service facilities that would have to be built for such a venture.

National Post article on the subject …

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2008/11/24/ttc-likely-to-scuttle-commuter-ferry-idea.aspx

Friday, November 21, 2008

SAM SMITH SOUL!











UK singer/songwriter Bryn Christopher, an up and coming soul recording artist from Birmingham, had an extremely chilly time last night filming his latest video in Sam Smith Park on third beach.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

POWER HOUSE NATURE CENTRE

"You complain about lack of recreation space now you want to turn over rec space to education….. "
"You completely miss the point of locating a nature centre in the power house, and that is, that this location is ideal for teaching children about the importance of the natural environment because of its close proximity to a naturalized park and wetland setting--a rarity in this city."


These two comments on a previous post about FOSS’s proposal that the Power House be used as a Nature Centre as Councillor De Baeremaeker recommended in his report on the Power House and adjacent, environmentally sensitive areas, “A Place for Nature; a Place for Youth”, suggest that some further explanation be offered. Below is the text of a recent letter that was sent by FOSS's Power House/Nature Centre Committee to the Minister of Education, the two Boards, their Trustees and Science Coordinators. Hopefully, the ideas contained in it are convincing, timely and appropriate.

At the foot of Kipling Avenue and just south of Lakeshore Blvd. West is Colonel Sam Smith Park. It encompasses approximately 160 hectares divided roughly in two, with a rather raw spit of land that juts into Lake Ontario and a more sedate former psychiatric hospital grounds covered in mature trees. Friends of Sam Smith (FOSS) is a community-based organization mandated to protect, enhance and preserve this Lakeshore Grounds/Colonel Sam Smith Park.

The Sam Smith Wetland Creation Project was established at this site at the cost of 8.4 million dollars, by a number of government agencies, a trust, and the MTRCA. It was created using the MTRCA Remedial Action Plan based on rubble disposal, leading to a detailed naturalization of the site. It includes spawning and refuge areas for fish, amphibian ponds, foraging and hibernating habitat for reptiles, mammal habitats, and foraging, nesting and loafing areas for birds based on shrub, meadow, mature canopy and aquatic vegetation communities. Many animal communities have located themselves in this complex ecosystem, including beaver, fox, and mink. There are many ways in which site studies could be integrated into the Ontario Science and Technology Curriculum in particular and other curriculum strands as well.

Kathleen Wynne, the Minister of Education for Ontario, has promised that all 32 recommendations of a working group she commissioned on Environmental Education, which reported in June 2007, would be implemented in all grades "as a priority". The report stresses that students should receive systems training in how interlinking parts of ecosystems function. This study stated that "opportunities must be provided to introduce students to outdoor education experiences" ("Shaping Our Schools, Shaping our Future", p.15).


While we realize that many of our outdoor education centres are closed, and bemoan that fact, we think that this site deserves careful consideration for students at any age/level, because of its unique characteristics. The site is easily accessible by public transit and might well be the first introduction for many students to studies involving Lake Ontario.

We think Col. Sam Smith Park is a showplace for the process of habitat construction and ecosystem development and could provide very successful learning opportunities for school groups from the TDSB and the TCDSB. Thus, we are proposing the development of a nature-interpretive centre at this site. We sent a letter to our local MPP, Laurel Broten, asking for some advice as to how we might pursue this concept and she responded positively to the idea and suggested we contact the school boards.

As an added component there is the Power House here, part of the historically significant former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, which is very usable as a Nature Centre. It has modern washrooms, a large meeting room that could be subdivided, and a room designed for food preparation. The city, which maintains and administrates the Power House through Parks and Recreation, currently is programming its use to limited times during the summer, which frees up the facility for school use throughout the other three seasons.

Friends of Sam Smith Park would love to provide a tour of the grounds and/or answer any additional queries you might have about the opportunity for establishing a Nature Centre at Col. Sam Smith Park. We ask only that you explore this site -- hoping, of course, that you see the excellent possibilities for accessible outdoor education that we do.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FIRST SNOWY OWL SEEN TODAY

A Snowy Owl was seen today on the boat docks. This is very early for these visitors from the tundra who occasionally show up along the northern shores of the Great Lakes during winter to feed on rodents in habitats that somewhat resemble their home. This is their idea of migrating to warmer lands to the south! There are reports that lemming populations in the far north are very low this year. It is part of a normal cycle of population growth and decline that effects the availability of their regular diet. We should see more of them in the months to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MORE ON THE NEW GARBAGE RECEPTACLES

Jem Cain's letter to Connie Pinto at the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. We await her response.

On Friday the City delivered 24 trash and recycling barrels to the park road along the lakefront in Col. Sam Smith Park. They are huge, almost 8 feet tall and 5 feet across. They will be buried to a depth of 5 feet.
In an effort to get more information a call was put in to the Councillor's office on Friday. Unfortunately the gentleman has not received a return call.
Myself and several people in the community have a number of concerns.
The barrels are so big that a back hoe or large auger will be needed to dig the pits for the containers. How large will the equipment be that will empty the plastic liners that go inside the barrels? How often will they be emptied? How much disturbance will this create to the wildlife that makes the park their home?
The flip top lid appears to be easily opened. Raccoons easily open my garbage cans and I bungee cord them shut. Will they be able to open the flip top and climb inside and be unable to escape?
There is a history of significant vandalism in the park including arson which has resulted in the complete destruction of the observation deck beside the marina, several grass fires and burning the portable toilets so that the only remainder is burnt plastic that scars the asphalt. Understandably, the City will no longer install portable toilets in Sam Smith Park because of the number that have been burned to the ground.
We are concerned that that accelerant will be poured into these bins and they will be set alight, making a spectacular fire.
I know they have similar containers in Cherry beach and the stench near them in the summer is terrible.
Unfortunately, many of us have seen evidence of the wildlife being tormented. There was a beautiful big bird house with multiple openings that was erected about five years ago, that was bashed to the ground within weeks. You could see the wreckage of the nests near where it fell.
We see crushed eggs, and this spring some kids reported that they saw youths throwing rocks at the nesting ducks, and I have heard other anecdotes of cruelty to the wildlife. Sadly, if someone were cruel enough to put a feral cat, or other animal in these bins - they would never be able to escape.
Despite the best efforts of the parks staff, the City cannot keep the few garbage/recycling wire baskets they have in the park emptied now. The containers overflow and litter blows throughout the park. In the summer I often take down my home garbage bags and fill them and leave several bags beside the overflowing litter baskets
We wonder why these huge barrels are necessary? The wire baskets the City currently uses allows raccoons and fox to escape when they forage for food. When they are trapped we can see and hear them, and we tip the basket to allow them out and then stand it back up. Will these bins allow animals access in but trap them so they cannot escape? In a passive park will the installation and maintenance of these bins cause disturbance to the wildlife that lives there? With the history of vandalism will these bins present more opportunity to vandalize the park?
I would appreciate anything you can find out.
Thank you,
Jem

FALL VISITORS

Look for the exotic Hooded Mergansers (or "hoodies") in the ponds and bays of the park. They pass through in Spring and Fall and rest for a week or two on their journey.

Friday, November 7, 2008

NEW GARBAGE SYSTEM FOR PARK






Twenty-four enormous in-ground litter and recycling receptacles have appeared in the park. They have a three feet high, above-ground part and a six feet deep section to be sunk in the ground. They are about four feet wide. It is assumed that they will be installed where the mysterious white wooden stakes started appearing in the last couple of weeks.
Obvious advantages are that there are a lot of them and they cannot be tipped over. Their large capacity should prevent overfill and blowing garbage, particularly around the parking area.
One
wonders, though, about lingering smells if they are emptied only when full. People have complained about this when they have been installed in other Toronto parks. Also, the lids are not spring-loaded or lockable; are they designed well enough to stop unfortunate park critters from being attracted by the smell and falling in?

SAND PILES IN POWER HOUSE PARKING LOT

People have been asking why there are three truckloads of sand in the Power House parking lot. Jorge Ture has advised us that it will be used to topdress the sports field.

NEXT CCFEW MEETING - SOME ITEMS OF INTEREST TO FOSS MEMBERS

The next CCFEW Planning Meeting is Monday, November 10th, 7:30pm at LAMP, 185 Fifth Street. These monthly meetings are used mainly to discuss current issues, projects and policy positions. They are always open to anyone who is interested in attending.

Items on the agenda this month include:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

SAM SMITH PARK DEFINITELY OFF ANY SKATEPARK LIST!

At the Skatepark Community Meeting last night, Councillor Grimes confirmed publicly that Sam Smith Park will not be on any list the new Community Working Group comes up with as a possible location for a skateboarding facility. Up to now, we had only heard from his staff.

At the meeting, many of the comments from the floor were requests for transparency and trust during the process. It is expected that the twelve member working group, which will hold its first meeting on December 4th, will offer a progress report to the community at another public meeting in January. Of special interest will be the site selection criteria they come up with and the weighting that will be given to each. It was promised that the group members eventually chosen will make their e-mail addreses and phone numbers available so that there can be ongoing, two-way feedback between them, acting as our representatives, and the public.

If you were unable to attend the meeting last night and wish to apply to be on the group or wish to offer a comment, you can e-mail LURA consultants at brandall@lura.ca or call 416 660 3755.

It is interesting to note that the preliminary list of selection criteria offered by City staff at the meeting last night would have precluded Sam Smith Park from the short list of possible sites two years ago. Two of the criteria, which we were told are standard for the City when choosing a site for a skateboarding facility, state that "the skatepark must be visible to passers-by" and "the skatepark must be compatible with other park uses and natural areas". As you recall, those were the two most important issues the community raised in opposition to a secluded skatepark in a meadow next to wetlands!

What a lot of trouble, time and energy could have been save two years ago if staff and politicians had not ignored their own sensible policy! What a lot of skateboarding could have been enjoyed!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WE MUST SUPPORT CCFEW'S REQUEST FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASESSMENT OF THE SKATING TRAIL!

As many of you will know CCFEW has asked the Minister of the Environment to designate the proposed ice skating trail in Col. Sam Smith Park as a project to which the Environmental Assessment Act should apply. Our submission is posted on the CCFEW website and clearly points out the reasons why the City should not proceed. The Minister is still considering our request and we would like supporters of our position to write to him and tell him why you oppose the skating trail.

It is important that letters and emails go to Minister Gerretson as quickly as possible.

Please quote the following file # ENV 1283MC -2008-3481 and a copy should go to jeffrey.dea@ontario.ca

Letters should be addressed to: Hon. John Gerretson, Minister of the Environment12th Floor, 135 St. Clair Ave. WestToronto M4P1V5

To email the minister you have to go to www.ene.gov.on.ca/feedback/email_minister.php

But please email a copy of your letter to <jeffrey.dee@ontario.ca>

(It helps us track support if you send CCFEW a copy as well.)Plenty of verbal and written support has come to us, but to make it count, it has to go the the Minister of the Environment!

More info at ..

http://friendsofsamsmithpark.blogspot.com/2008/10/foss-supports-ccfews-submission-to.html

http://friendsofsamsmithpark.blogspot.com/2008/09/ccfew-fights-skating-trail-etobicoke.html

PHOTOGRAPHS

Great set of photographs of the park and hospital grounds.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/viviloob/sets/72157594159198908/comments/


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

SKATEPARK COMMUNITY MEETING - MONDAY NOVEMBER 3RD, 7 PM, MIMICO LIBRARY, 47 STATION ROAD

The process and meeting are to be run by LURA consultants. A
committee of 20 is to be selected representing all interest groups and neighbourhoods. It is hoped that a recommendation can be made to
Council in February. At the meeting LURA will present the criteria
to be used in site selection. It will be important to understand the weighting to be given to the various criteria and the way in which they will be evaluated. Sam Smith Park is definitely excluded from the process according to the Councillor's office but, given the history and connection between Friends of Sam Smith Park, local skateboarders and this project, it is very important that we all come out to help get this long-awaited initiative off the ground.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SPORTS FACILITIES AROUND OVAL

As you are aware, the Ontario Australian-Rules Football League that plays in the oval on Friday evenings has requested that the City partner with them in constructing a storage bunker for their equipment near the playing area. They wish to replace the current storage boxes along the creek with a permanent solution to deter vandalism.

The City has already assisted this organization by constructing a barrier along the north side to prevent vehicles from damaging the playing surface of the field. As the league is expanding, there is talk of further projects – field irrigation for the drier areas, washrooms, bleachers etc.

Other sports groups, like the cricketers, for example, will no doubt expect that the City provide further accommodations for their specific needs. The fear, of course, is that allowing the construction of more sports facilities will be the thin edge of the wedge and open the floodgates to further construction in the park and on surrounding areas. Are we even sure that quasi-commercial sports teams should be located on these recreation grounds, grounds that until recently were used by local residents and informal sports groups? Will a stadium be proposed later on? All of this should take into account the fact that there is no Public Management/Advisory Board for the park set up yet and a promised, comprehensive review of recreation needs in South Etobicoke has not yet been completed.

FOSS acknowledges that the OAFL expresses a wish to work co-operatively with the other park stakeholders, like Friends of Sam Smith Park, is responsible about cleaning the area after using it and acquires the proper permits for its use of the playing field.

Please post your comments on this post.

NATURE-INTERPRETIVE CENTER AT SAM SMITH?

A working group of FOSS members called the “Power House/Nature Center Committee” has come up with a proposal that the boards investigate using Sam Smith Park and the Power House as a nature-interpretive center. The committee is now in the process of contacting by letter representatives from the two local school boards (TDSB and TDSCB), the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and the appropriate provincial politicians. The park is an excellent showplace for the process of habitat construction and ecosystem development and could provide very successful learning opportunities for school groups focused on environmental science. The renovated Power House has classroom space, display areas, washrooms and a food prep corner. The park is easily accessible by public transit. This proposal is very timely and advantageous for cash-strapped boards of education during a restraint period when outdoor education facilities are being shut down due to funding difficulties.

Our local MPP, Laurel Broten has already responded positively to the idea and suggested we contact the school boards.

Stay tuned for further details about this exciting possibility. If you have any comments or suggestions or could lend a hand to this endeavour, please add them to this post and/or send them to the FOSS e-mail address.

WARD 6 SKATEBOARD PARK INFORMATION MEETING NOVEMBER 3, 2008

Councillor Grimes has posted the information below on his website under "Events".

I would like to invite you to a Community Information Meeting on Monday November 3, 7pm, at Mimico Centennial Library (47 Station Rd) to discuss the proposed Skateboard Park for Ward 6. The meeting will include an overview of the history of this project, an explanation of the process from here on, and the criteria for selecting a Community Skateboard Park Advisory Committee. The City is seeking individuals that represent a cross section of the community and skateboard enthusiasts, to work on a committee to look at the locations and criteria for the proposed park.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

SAM SMITH PARK ON YOUTUBE

A young couple enjoys the peace of nature at our favourite park.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoungHPYnM0

Friday, October 17, 2008

PARK SCAVENGER HUNT - PRIZES!

New Toronto Library (Eleventh Street) is sponsoring a Scavenger Hunt that invites an exploration of Sam Smith Park. The hunt/walk starts at the library, is about 3 km in length and is suitable for all ages - a great family activity. It can be done whenever you wish in October – completed entry forms must be in the library drop box by October 31st. There are great prizes to be won.

Entry forms can be picked up at the library or downloaded at http://www.toronto.ca/livegreen/downloads/sh-west.pdf

More info. http://www.toronto.ca/livegreen/scavenger.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MORE SAM SMITH MAMMAL VIDEOCLIPS

If you have videoclips of mammals taken in the park and would like them posted here, please send them to Terry Smith
tz.smith@sympatico.ca


Friday, October 3, 2008

FOSS SUPPORTS CCFEW'S SUBMISSION TO THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT

Here is the letter sent by Friends of Sam Smith Park to the Minister of the Environment in support of CCFEW's request that the skating trail project be subject to an environmental assessment. Letters from other community groups or individuals would go a long way to support this initiative. Contact information is contained in the letter. It is important that the paragraph in red be included. You might want to send a copy to CCFEW brian@ccfew.org and one to Tamara Shephard at the Etobicoke Guardian tshephard@insidetoronto.com.



The Honourable John Gerretson

Minister of the Environment

12th Floor

135 St. Clair Avenue West

Toronto

Ontario M4V 1P5

Friends of Sam Smith Park

Toronto

Ontario

Attention: The Honourable John Gerretson, Minister of the Environment

Established in 2006, Friends of Sam Smith Park is a community group of local residents and park users whose goals are to protect, enhance and preserve Colonel Samuel Smith Park and the Lakeshore Grounds, with a particular emphasis on plant and wildlife habitat.

We emerged as a formal group from an ad hoc assembly that gathered together to oppose a large regional skateboard facility that was proposed for an environmentally sensitive area around what is known as the Power House. The area contains meadow, woodlot, understory shrubs, wetland and creek and is the prime wildlife corridor and riparian pathway for migrating birds in the park.

Citizen opposition was so large and vocal that the City was forced to reconsider its plans. Councillor De Baeremaeker studied the issues and his report, “A Place for Nature, A Place for Youth” from 2006, recommended that this proposed location be abandoned for environmental reasons and that the habitat, in fact, should be enhanced. The report was accepted by the local Councillor who formally confirmed that a new location would be sought.

Now the City is proposing to build yet another large cement facility for active recreation, a $2 million ice-skating track, immediately north of the Power House, just meters away from that ill-chosen location.

The lush canopy provided by the deciduous and coniferous trees that grow there are part of the continuing wildlife corridor that includes the southern meadow, the riparian pathway along North Creek, the spruce grove, the regrettably narrow, previously contested and sparsely treed gap between the quadrangle and the school and the orchard and wooded areas to the north. It is inconceivable to believe that a wide cement path in that spot with a foundation base containing freezing tubes and a surface area of 13,000 square feet would not require the removal of trees and cause major damage to remaining root systems. There would undoubtedly be habitat disturbance in other forms – additional lighting, music, noise from the zamboni and compressor pumps, additional activity and the probability of noisy skateboard use during the other three seasons (school maintenance staff are already finding homemade plywood ramps hidden among the trees for use in font of the school!). There would be an increase of fast food litter from a concession stand that would inevitably pop up there.

We have already seen destruction of the habitat north of the Power House in the form of understory removal. The shrubs and ground plants that used to be there and provided cover and feeding spots for wildlife, particularly birds, have mostly been removed. It is not hard to imagine what might happen to the remaining understory if the plan goes ahead. In an urban area, we should be fostering the growth of native plants and wildlife, not promoting developments that detract from them.

Colonel Samuel Smith Park is primarily a nature park, conceived and designed as such from its earliest beginnings. It is imperative that projects like this are not implemented without the input from residents and park users in the form of a Citizen’s Management/Advisory Committee and without proper environmental consideration.

Friends of Sam Smith Park is concerned about the environmental degradation that such a project would create and strongly support the application by Citizens Concerned about the Future of The Etobicoke Waterfront dated September 10th, 2008 to have the City of Toronto’s planned ice skating track in Colonel Samuel Smith Park designated as a project to which the Environmental Act applies.

Yours sincerely

Allen Valk

Chairperson, Friends of Sam Smith Park

KEVIN BOWSER'S RESPONSE TO CONCRETE BUNKER CONCERNS

"Thanks Terry for your email. Jorge and I will be reviewing various options in the park. The recent graffiti in the park has the permit holders concerned about their existing storage bins. The group is looking for something that would be more secure."

Sounds like Parks staff need more public input to help them decide.
(See previous post for contact info.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

CONCRETE "BUNKER" TO BE BUILT IN PARK?

There is the distinct possibility that a permanent concrete "bunker" (Jorge Ture's word) will be built to store equipment for the Australian-rules football teams. The probable location will be the current storage box location. Below, I have posted recent communication about this issue with Jorge Ture, Supervisor of Parks Maintenance, Etobicoke York District, who is responsible for choosing the exact location. In his reply, he states that he welcomes opinions from park users and makes his decisions based on what he hears. If you wish to contact him, call him at 416-394-8559 or e-mail him at jture@toronto.ca

Alternatively, you may want to go directly to Kevin Bowser, Manager of Parks, Etobicoke York District at 416 394 2486 kbows@toronto.ca

Hi George

Thanks for promptly returning my call about the proposed concrete storage shed for the Australian-rules football teams.

You mentioned that, if it gets built, you favour the present location where the storage boxes are now over the two other possibilities, against the Power House or elsewhere around the oval.

As you know, the woodlot, shrubbery, creek, meadow and wetland in that corner of the park form a very special place to all the members of Friends of Sam Smith Park and to the many naturalists who use the park We have long struggled to maintain the natural vegetation and character of that area and to minimize any impact on wildlife and habitat. It is true that North Creek, once an above-ground creek, could be described as a "waterway" and that it does carry storm water down to the small wetland and on to the lake, to the birds who follow that riparian pathway during Spring and Fall migration, it is indeed a creek and, as such, attracts species who require that kind of habitat.

As you know, lots of birders come to that very place during Spring
migration. It is now a well-known Toronto area birding hot spot. You can see them searching for species in the spruce grove, along the creek and in the shrubbery that borders the creek, often leaning on the small bridge as the birds work their way northwards towards them, through the canopy, understory and ground cover .

When the storage boxes were originally put there, many were unhappy with the location, for two prime reasons. Aesthetically, they are an eyesore in such a natural setting and shrubs were removed to create a "clearing" for them. We thought that perhaps they were placed there only temporarily. Now it seems they may be permanently replaced by what will probably be a bigger
eyesore, a concrete bunker, requiring even more clearing of vegetation.

As there are other possible locations for the bunker, we urge you to
consider moving the storage boxes from the creek area, thus allowing the shrubbery to regenerate, and to choose another location.

George, please let me know what your thoughts are on this matter. Thank you

Yours sincerely
Terry Smith
Friends of Sam Smith Park

Hi Terry
As you can appreciate with so many park users who everyone has an opinion on what is appropriate or not and I do my best to balance the needs of all park users and try to find common ground. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me I will give them serious consideration.
Jorge Ture

SAM SMITH PARK FOXES

This is a short compilation of photographs George Raikou has taken of the foxes we have all enjoyed this summer.


PROCESS FOR DESIGNATING SKATING TRAIL UNDER THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ACT

Tamara Shepard in yesterday's Etobicoke Guardian outlined the process that might be taken by the Ministry of the Environment should they proceed with CCFEW's request that the skating trail be subject to the Environmental Assessment Act. It could take three to nine months to fully review the proposed project.


The review of a local waterfront watchdog group's "designation request" to determine whether a planned south Etobicoke ice skating trail is subject to the Environmental Assessment Act will take at least three months, say ministry officials.

Citizens Concerned About the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW) has requested Environment Minister John Gerretsen pass a project-specific regulation designating the proposed $2-million artificial ice skating trail in the naturalized waterfront Colonel Sam Smith Park as one to which the Act applies.

The review of CCFEW's recent request could take between three to nine months.

"We'll assign a project officer to it, conduct a review, consult with the proponent of the project (the city) and any other government agencies that might have an interest. Based on that review, we'll determine whether to take it further, and make recommendations to the minister," said Ariane Heisey, a supervisor with the environmental assessment and approvals branch of the Ministry of the Environment.

In its application, CCFEW states the site of the proposed ice skating track is a woodlot designated for "landscape regeneration" in the park's Master Plan.

"It's the wrong project for that location," CCFEW president Brian Bailey said in an interview last week.

Should Gerretsen decide CCFEW's designation request be considered further, a "proposal for designation" will be made and posted online on an environmental registry for 30 days for public comment.

"That's a good indication, but not for certain, that we'll be designating it and making a regulation to do so," Heisey said.

Following the comment period, the project officer will then recommend to Gerretsen whether the project should be made subject to the Environmental Assessment Act.

Should Gerretsen agree the Act should apply, it must then be approved by the Ontario government's cabinet, as well as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David Onley.

Two years ago, the group requested the same ministry regulation over the contentious, now defunct, city proposal to build a skateboard park in Colonel Sam Smith Park's meadow.

City plans to build the skateboard park died that September after local councillor Mark Grimes got strong advice from Ward 38 Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker to put the controversial park elsewhere.

SKATING TRAIL OPERATING COSTS JUST RELEASED

One piece of information that was missing from LURA Consulting's report on the June 5th public meeting about the skating trail was the exact numbers for the annual operating costs. Kevin Bowser, Manager of Parks for the Etobicoke York District, has just released them. The total, including the leased Zamboni, looks to be about $120 000 a year or $30 000 a month for each of the four months of the year it would probably operate. This is not an insignificant amount to find in a cash-strapped City for a project rejected by half of the community!


"Parks has projected $45,162 for seasonal wages plus benefits, in addition it will require $20K for contracted services and approximately $25K for utilities. An additional $30K may be required to lease an ice resurfacing machine, ice edger, etc. for the operation. Without including the fleet equipment, the cost for operation will be approximately $85K-$90K per year."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

COUNCILLOR GRIMES CALLS FOR PARTICIPANTS IN NEW SKATEPARK COMMITTEE

Councillor Grimes is asking for individuals from local community groups to sit on the long-awaited Skate Park Committee to find a location for a skateboarding facility in Ward 6. We assume that this will be a location other than the original that was proposed in the meadow south of the Power House and which was fought against hard by the community.
Following Councillor De Baeremaeker's report rejecting that location, Councillor Grime's letter to the public endorsing De Baermaeker's position and Steven O'Bright's assurances at the June Skating Trail meeting that the report's findings would be upheld, it would appear that other locations would be the only ones looked at
It is important the we support our local skateboarders with this new thrust. Remember, they supported us. Please consider contacting Councillor Grimes and signing up for this committee.
416 397 9273, councillor_grimes@toronto.ca

Lakeshore Village News


Our community, in South Etobicoke, has many sports and recreational ac­tivities to offer Torontonians. With beautiful parks and great facilities we have a lot to enjoy. People come here to walk, cycle, sail, swim, skate, skateboard and more.

Over the last few years there has been much discussion regarding the need for a Skate Park in South Etobicoke. This sport is one of the fast-growing sports in North America, and appeals to a large segment of youth who are not otherwise drawn to more traditional team sports. Once again I have asked Toronto Parks and Recreation to work together with the com­munity to address the need for this facility. This will represent a $500,000 investment in our community.

Skateboard parks are a far safer venue for kids, and adults to skate on than local streets, parking lots and sidewalks. A park designed for skateboards and roller blades will allow kids to develop and master the skills of the sport while socializing in a constructive, welcoming environment. Such is the scene when you visit skate parks in other parts of our city. They are filled with really talented young people who are having a great time practising their sport with their friends, while spectators sit watching, cheering them on. Events at the skate park contribute to the overall economic and social health of the community by bringing visitors and new business opportunities.

In our community we would like to have a park that is built to meet the identified needs of cur­rent skaters, people new to the sport and other stakeholders, in a location that is both acces­sible and agreeable to the community.

I am seeking individuals that represent a cross section of the community and skate sports enthusiasts, to work on a committee to look at the criteria for the proposed park. This will also include local business representatives, residents, and community groups. The committee will also provide input into the location, design and use of the facility, and work with the commu­nity and city staff on this issue.

If you are interested in working with me and City of Toronto staff to see the Skate Park come to fruition, please contact my office at 416 397 9272 or by email tocouncillor_grimes@toronto.ca.

MYSTERY MAMMAL VIDEO

There have been reports this summer of an otter being seen in the park. Otters can be found in and around Lake Ontario. So can mink. View this fascinating video clip posted by George Raikou and judge for yourself. The location of the scene in the clip is the rocks east of the large pond, bordering the first bay as you go in from the Lakeshore Drive and Thirteenth Street entrance.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

THE DANGER OF PLASTIC BAGS IN THE PARK AND JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET!!!

FOSS member Donna-Marie Batty, along with a growing number of others, is very concerned about the proliferation of plastic shopping bags in the environment. We have all seen the "plastic bag" trees in the park during the Fall and Winter and observed them in increasing numbers in the ponds and on the shore.

The slideshow she has posted here is a strong and convincing argument for a total ban (Click on arrow on bottom left of black screen to start the video)

She has forwarded it to members of city council (including Mark Grimes and David Miller). Please pass this on to everyone you know. We need to pressure the City of Toronto to simply ban them. People are now becoming educated on the issue are ready to accept this inevitability

"CCFEW fights skating trail" - ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN, SEPTEMBER 26, 2008

Text from the Guardian article
Local waterfront watchdog group opposed to city plans to build concrete recreational facilities in Colonel Sam Smith Park has once again taken its case to the Ministry of the Environment.

Citizens Concerned About the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW) wrote Environment Minister John Gerretsen on Sept. 10 to request he pass a project-specific regulation designating a proposed artificial ice skating track as a project to which the Environmental Assessment Act applies.

Three months ago, city plans to construct the $2-million ice skating track drew support and interest from some residents.

But opponents charged the plan is an intrusion on a lakefront retreat, and repeated arguments voiced two years ago in a protracted battle against a controversial, now defunct, city plan to build a concrete skateboarding pad in the same naturalized waterfront park's meadow.

In its application, the group states the site of the proposed $2-million artificial ice skating track is a woodlot designated for "landscape regeneration" in the park's Master Plan.

CCFEW argued the environmental impact of the city's proposal has not been evaluated within the context of natural heritage policies, or on the woodlot and the park, in general.

"This development poses a threat to parkland intended for passive recreation compatible with a natural habitat," reads CCFEW's request.

A city-funded biologist's report in 2006 indicated 121 migratory bird species use the park's habitats.

At a public meeting in June, city officials unveiled preliminary plans to build a 250-metre linear skating trail. The 4.2-metres-wide trail with "morality" lighting and a "very discreet" sound system was proposed for 12 per cent of the one-hectare site, project lead Steve O'Bright, a co-ordinator with the city's park and recreation department said.

The remaining 88 per cent of the site will be renaturalized, O'Bright said.

But in its designation request, CCFEW cites site-management guidelines for the park, known as the Lakeshore Grounds, dating back to 1997 that indicate passive recreation should dominate at the site.

The guidelines cited further indicate "single purpose facilities which occupy large land areas should be discouraged at this specific site."

"CCFEW's position is that an ice skating facility with lights and music is a single purpose facility that was not envisaged when these principles were approved," the group wrote in its request.

"Traditional recreation in the Lakeshore Grounds has been walking, bird watching, nature study and enjoying views of the waterfront. The meadows are not cut and the areas where the grass is cut are not maintained as playing fields."

This is CCFEW's second designation request of the ministry in as many years.

In June 2006, the group requested the same ministry regulation over the contentious, now defunct, city proposal to build a skateboard park in Colonel Sam Smith Park's meadow.

City plans to build the skateboard park died that September after Ward 6 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) Councillor Mark Grimes got strong advice from colleague Ward 38 Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker to put the controversial park elsewhere.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

HALLOWEEN AT THE POWER HOUSE

Power House Charity Haunt

October 24, 2008 to October 31, 2008
Come and have a spooktacular scare for a good cause!

Located by Humber College and the former grounds on the Etobicoke Phychiatric Hospital, this haunt is not for the faint of heart. Find your way through a labyrinth maze and anticipate what is waiting for you around ever corner!

For informtaion on volenteering or event information contact us at info@charityhaunt.ca
Although there is no age restriction, this event is not recommended for children under 9 years old. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Ticket Sales close at 10:30pm

For more information contact:
Phone: 416 338 1081

or visit our website at www.charityhaunt.ca

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NEW SCHOOL ON LAKESHORE GROUNDS

It looks like the Toronto Catholic School Board has decided that a new school will be built at the south-west corner of Kipling and Lakeshore Boulevard on the Lakeshore Grounds, where what is left of the heritage orchard still stands. Below is an excerpt from a TCSB meeting last May. It is taken from their website. This will be a shock to many considering there has been no publicity and very little public participation. If you look below at the quote from the Ministry of Education guidelines on pupil accommodation, it appears that the TCSB has definitely omitted an important step!


APPROVED MINUTES
CE01 ACCOMMODATION REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING #3
TUESDAY, May 13, 2008
CHRIST THE KING CATHOLIC SCHOOL


• St.Teresa and Christ the King consolidate in a new
school at the Kipling and Lakeshore Blvd site
• vote taken – all agreed


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
PUPIL ACCOMMODATION REVIEW GUIDELINES


“The guidelines ensure that where a decision is taken by a school board regarding the future of a school, that decision is made with the full involvement of an informed local community

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CCFEW BIRD WALKS IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER IN SAM SMITH PARK

CCFEW organizes a series of 8 to 10 bird walks through the year at Toronto waterfront parks. Winter walks are normally held at Humber Bay, while spring and fall walks are at Colonel Sam Smith Park. The walks are lead by experienced birders and are free for anyone who is interested in attending. Everyone is welcome! All walks are on weekends.

Future Bird Walk Dates:

Sunday, September 14th

9:00 - 11:00 am, Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Leader: Glenn Coady

Meet in the south parking lot (where Sam Smith Park Drive ends) at 9:00

Saturday, October 4th

9:00 - 11:00 am, Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Leader: Andrew Keaveney

Meet in the south parking lot (where Sam Smith Park Drive ends) at 9:00

Walks are held rain,or shine!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

PUBLIC CONSULTATION - A THOUGHT.

The letter from Adelaide Bell about the Skating Trail in yesterday's Etobicoke Guardian shows the problem with the City's approach to public consultation. Is it right to simply dismiss a large body of public opinion, exampled by her thoughtful letter, that does not happen to align itself neatly with political and bureaucratic will or should public employees, like Councillors and planners, be required to moderate personal goals and, as city guidelines state, seek out compromise, consensus solutions that do not divide a community?

Many of us still oppose trail

August 21, 2008 03:28 PM

On June 5, I attended a public meeting regarding the proposed construction of a skating trail in the Colonel Samuel Smith Park in south Etobicoke.

At the meeting, we were asked to hand in a sheet stating our opinions. I strongly objected to this project, since it would require the removal of trees, the disturbance of tree roots in order to level the trail and artificial refrigeration which would be costly and would have to be constantly inspected to make sure it wouldn't leak chemicals into the ground and eventually into the lake. The Zamboni, lighting, and music would frighten the wild animals and the many species of birds that inhabit the park, driving them away, and maybe even causing wild animals to invade neighbouring gardens and prey on domestic pets.

The proposed hot chocolate concession would result in litter throughout the park.

Much of the park has been lost to large buildings and the small area left should be left in place. Several friends, acquaintances and neighbours of mine did not receive a notice of the meeting, or were unable to attend the meeting. We do not belong to any organized group opposing the trail, but we do wish that Colonel Samuel Smith Park remain a natural wildlife sanctuary and strongly object to the construction of a skating trail on this site.

Adelaide Bell

CC: Mayor David Miller, Project co-ordinator Lura Consulting, Steven O'Bright, Councillor Mark Grimes, Councillor Peter Milczyn, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/etobicoke/letters/article/54176?thePub=etobicoke

SKATING TRAIL REPORT OUT!

LURA Consulting’s report on the Skating Trail public consultation held in June is now available.


You can click here to read the full report in pdf format (916KB, 66 pages).

The document is 66 pages long and includes a covering letter from the City, comments and questions that came from the floor along with city staff responses where offered, a summary of points from the comment sheets sent in (180 pro, 175 con), results from two petitions (53 pro, 26 con) and an Urban Forestry Review indicating tree conflicts.

The City's covering letter contains the following ....."Some residents expressed excitement and support for what will become a great family destination in your neighbourhood. Others raised concerns regarding the potential impact of a skating trail in this area. Be assured that City staff are committed to developing this project taking into account the importance of the sensitivities of the park and community, and without disturbing the existing Wetlands-Wildlife Restoration Trail.

In proceeding with the project, the City will be issuing a proposal call in September for qualified and experienced firms to initiate the design phase. It is anticipated that the project would be complete and operational for the 2009 skating season. I appreciate the time and effort you have taken to be engaged in this process and providing your opinions and input. LURA Consulting will continue to receive your comments as the project progresses so please forward any comments to shall@lura.ca"

It appears that the City intends to go ahead with this project in spite of massive opposition and a call from a large part of the community for precious resources to be spent on more urgent community needs. Once again, another so-called "public consultation" turns out to be nothing more than a public relations gesture. Logic and fair play would suggest that a near 50% opposition from intelligent, reasonable and committed community residents would halt a project so that a thorough, overall review could be done before the City barrels ahead. Go figure!