Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Wednesday morning, third beach ....... in addition to the usual still-smoking remains of the previous night's fire, the smashed beer bottles, the food and drink cartons and discarded clothing, there were a number of sawed-off saplings and branches from recent park plantings that the revelers had gathered to keep the fire bright. Of course, the green wood did not burn and was left on the beach, sad emblems of insensitive indifference and waste, only meters away from the vandalized, burnt-out wreck of what used to be the wildlife observation deck.
This is happening a lot right now and will increase, as usual, now that Summer is under way.
Some say that this behaviour is just youngsters doing what youngsters do; others call it a crime. In recent weeks a FOSS member was brutally attacked when he approached some teenagers in the same spot asking them to put out their fire. Youthful exuberance can certainly have its dark side.
There seem to be very few patrols by police officers. They know of this ongoing problem but, for some reason, are rarely seen attending to it. Perhaps it is time that we inundated the police with requests to step up patrols.
If you wish to add your voice to this, you can call Sergent MacDonald at 416 808 2199. He is in the Community Response Unit at 22 Division and responsible for ordering patrols. Better still, you can call his boss, Staff Sergent Khan at 416 808 2213. Even better still, I was told that, if you are not satisfied with the follow up, a call to Chief William Blair at 416 808 8000 can be very effective. A written complaint can also be made at the Lakeshore sub-division station by completing a Community Policing Complaint Form, insisting that they forward it to Sergent MacDonald at 22 or taking it there yourself. And, of course, there is also the Councillor's office, Mark Grimes, 416 397 9273 - maybe you could add a reminder that a proper Community Center might go a long way towards giving youngsters on the Lakeshore a constructive alternative for evening activity.
Posted by Terry Smith

SKATING TRAIL LETTER IN ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN TODAY

Skating trail will disrupt natural space

Skating trail will disrupt natural spaceJune 24, 2008 11:59 AM
As a resident of Etobicoke/Lakeshore, I would like to add my voice to the list of those opposed to the skate trail in Colonel Samual Smith Park. Running a paved and refrigerated route through such a natural space will disrupt the flora and fauna that are situated there. Further, the addition of lights and music as has been suggested will further disrupt the animal life that make their homes in the park. In an urban area, we should be fostering the growth of native plants and wildlife, and not promoting developments that detract from them

Additionally, tree roots grow outwards approximately twice the height of the tree, mainly in the first two feet of soil depth; pouring concrete in this heavily treed area will be detrimental to tree health.

Finally, an active-use skating trail has no place in a passive use, naturalized park such as Colonel Sam Smith. This is not Gage Park, an urban, active-use environment surrounded on four sides by city streets, and it is misleading to compare the two sites.

Robert Mitchell

WHIMSY IN THE PARK

Everyone seems to have their own personal name for each of the four eastern beaches - probably for many other parts of the park too. Often the names arise from family members and deep attachments that they have or have had to particular spots.
This whimsical, mysterious and inviting entranceway to the water on fourth beach takes you down "Linda's Lane". It says so much without so much as an explanation. But, you can bet that it means a lot to someone.
This paved path has been maintained for two years now.

SKATING TRAIL - ANOTHER LOCAL BLOGGER'S POINT OF VIEW

Local Blog - "The Spirit of the Lakeshore" - an e-mail to Mark Grimes.

http://thespiritoflakeshore.blogspot.com/2008/06/skating-trail-email-to-mark-grimes-and.html

Monday, June 23, 2008

FINALLY, COOPER'S HAWK NEST ACTION

Was down by the powerhouse this morning..saw 2 chicks sticking out of the north side of the nest...maybe even more..as I saw other movement.

Walt Balenovich

(FOSS member Walt is often seen wheeling through Sam Smith Park, particularly near the proposed skating trail site in the woodlot north of the power house where Cooper's hawks set up house this Spring; he and others have been concerned at the slow pace of egg incubation and the absence of chicks so far.
Walt does more than just wheel through the park. If you read his book "Travels in a Blue Chair - Alaska to Zambia, Ushuaia to Uluru" you'll know that
'North America's Disabled Adventurer' has backpacked much further afield that that. Find out more at www.bluechairbook.com )

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CCFEW BIRD WALK - SAM SMITH

Don Burton will be leading a bird walk this Saturday, June 21st at Colonel Samuel Smith Park from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Spring migration is over, so now is the time to see some of the birds who make the Etobicoke waterfront their summer home. This includes the breeding birds as well as some non-breeding stragglers. In addition to the birds, June often provides a wide range of plant & insect life as well. This will be our last walk until September.
Meet in the south parking lot (where the road ends) at 9:00. Walks are held rain, or shine.
Our walks are sponsored by Birds and Beans. The coffee they sell helps ensure that our summer birds will have a habitat to live in during the winter. You can visit the newly enlarged Birds and Beans at 2413 Lake Shore Blvd W in Mimico, or on the web at www.birdsandbeans.ca

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"EVERYONE WANTS A PIECE OF THE PIE" - Toronto Star, Oct.4, 1983

That was the headline of a Toronto Star article published in 1983 to describe the scramble that groups and organizations engaged in to determine what would be done with the hospital grounds. The mental institution had closed down four years earlier and the province was about to hand it over to the city. Community residents, developers, various housing groups, the Conservation Authority, Humber College, City planners, LAMP, Lakeshore Planning Council, Arts Etobicoke, Ministry of Government Services and area aldermen were just some of the interests competing at that time for this prime waterfront property before the negotiated, final mix of naturalized green space, passive recreation, art, education, heritage and healing was agreed upon and set out in the Master Plan for the park.

The busy little sketch that accompanied that article is shown here (double click on image to enlarge it). The newspaper’s artist attempted to illustrate what the park and grounds might look like if the ideas floating around were incorporated.

It is interesting to note that one of the back-stories to the current skating trail proposal, the concern that it could lead to what was called at that time a “Harbourfront West” development model, had its genesis back then.

The community buried that model before and is very wary of it resurfacing.

"A PROMISE IS A PROMISE" - OPEN LETTER TO GRIMES PUBLISHED IN ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN

A promise is a promise

June 10, 2008 10:56 AM
An open letter to Councillor Mark Grimes:

I was most dismayed when I heard you say that you would "never" meet with a group of people who wish to talk about their vision for Colonel Sam Smith Park. I was at the meeting last May, when you said that you would set up an advisory committee re: the park. Judging from your comment last night (June 5), it appears that you were being disingenuous.

First of all, I am not political in any way, nor are many of the people who care about the welfare of what we consider to be a very special and unique piece of property. I am angry that you choose to lump everyone together, and thus refuse to hear diverse opinions. Am I to assume then, that you will not listen to me when we disagree about other issues?

I can understand your frustration when you are publically challenged, but can't you see that people are upset because they are not being heard? If you had formed an advisory committee, as you said you would, many of these issues could have been addressed, and perhaps a better solution formed.

It appears that there are many people in the community whose opinions and dreams are being ignored: the skateboarders, youth and seniors who have waited years for a community centre, business people and families who want to see this area thrive, and those of us who treasure the peace, quiet and natural environment of Sam Smith Park. Many of us feel that the City of Toronto is trying to ram something through that is not necessarily in the best interest of our community, nor what we feel will best serve everyone.

You were elected to represent all of the people of this ward. This entails actively seeking out those with whom you disagree, and working to bring people together instead of frustrating and dividing them. It's clear that this is a diverse and active community, with great potential. Why not take time to really hear people, instead of assuming you know what is best?

I am writing this letter to you in the hope that you will follow through on your initial promise to form an advisory committe regarding what happens in Sam Smith Park. I would be happy to serve on it.

Susan Virtue

Link to "Letters", Etobicoke Guardian

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/etobicoke/letters/article/49764?thePub=etobicoke

Friday, June 13, 2008

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED LAST THURSDAY!

Many of those who attended last Thursday's skating trail meeting have stated that the Etobicoke Guardian's report did not capture the essence of what actually occurred. One example is that the article omitted to clearly mention that the majority of the audience were opposed to the skating trail, casually mentioning halfway through the report that "some residents don't want the naturalized park disturbed"! "Some", indeed! Also, there was no mention in the report of the repeated and denied calls for a show of hands on the issue. (See ..ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN'S REPORT ON THE SKATING TRAIL M...
Posted below is a letter sent to Mayor Miller by a local resident who was at that meeting. Aside from being a fine example of the time and care many people have spent to send in their comments on the meeting, it is probably a much more accurate account of what happened last Thursday.

Dear Mayor Miller

I live in south Etobicoke, and last Wednesday I read a notice in the Etobicoke Guardian announcing a public meeting the following evening (June 5) concerning a proposed ice skating trail at Colonel Samuel Smith Park. I decided to attend. Last year, a projected skate boarding area in the park was met with such strong objections from the community that the idea was dropped so I was somewhat taken aback, and very interested in finding out more about the new plans.

When I arrived I found the meeting extremely well attended and there were several calls for more chairs as things were getting started. The skating trail issue is obviously something that resonates within our community. I was quite shocked when I noticed two police officers in body armour standing at the back of the room beside Mark Grimes, our Councillor. It was intimidating to say the least, and made me, along with many others, feel very uncomfortable. I have never encountered armoured police officers at any other community meeting, and can see no justification for their presence.

A company called LURA was hired to facilitate the meeting and sheets bearing the company logo were handed out at the door including the following information:

"AGENDA - Preliminary Concept Ice Trail - Community Consultation for Colonel Samuel Smith Park." "PURPOSE - To introduce an alternate preliminary concept for an ice trail for Colonel Samuel Smith Park;

To seek community feedback on the pros, cons, and changes to the preliminary concept; and To address questions about the ice trail from the community."

Mr. Steven O'Bright, Project Coordinator, Policy and Development, Parks Forestry and Recreation Division led the meeting. He began by discussing the proposed skating trail in glowing terms and invited questions and comments from the floor. It became abundantly clear almost immediately that practically every member of the community who was in attendance opposed the skating trail. Speakers were very polite and asked a series of reasonable questions - everyone of which was cavalierly deflected by Mr. O'Bright. He was particularly vague about questions of cost. He could not or would not give us the exact dollar amount needed to build the trail and he would not even suggest a "ballpark" figure for upkeep. He could not give specific answers as to supervision of the trail, possible public liability problems or insurance costs. He could not explain how the City can consider spending nearly two million dollars plus yet to be calculated operating expenses for a skating trail in a neighbourhood that already has more outdoor skating rinks than any other area of the city, particularly at a time when there is not enough money to keep existing rinks open, and user fees are being introduced and there is no money to pay for supervision of children's wading pools in summer, etc. etc.

Nor could Mr. O'Bright explain why our community, which for years has been begging for a much needed community centre for our young people, is being entirely ignored by an almost frantic drive to put some kind of skating facility in an out of the way park area where if someone has an accident there's a dam good chance no one will be around to help - but, just maybe, someone might be hanging around with no good at all in mind! Could it be because of the potential money to be made by the owner of the food and beverage concession proposed to open near the skating trail?

When concerns were raised about environmental problems arising from the skating trail, which would require a large concrete pad and Zamboni access in addition to tree removal and ground level changes, once again Mr. O'Bright simply brushed them aside offering no explanation but insisting that the effects would be minimal.

All in all however, next to Councillor Grimes, Mr. O'Bright's behaviour was exemplary. Near the end of the meeting, a gentleman asked Mr. Grimes to meet with him and the local environmental group he represents to discuss their concerns. At first Mr. Grimes, still flanked by the armoured police officers I mentioned earlier, just kept silent. There were more and more requests from those present for an answer. Finally Mr. Grimes mumbled: "No, not with your group." Some people didn't hear clearly and began to ask him to speak into the mike - which eventually he grudgingly did, stating that the community group was "too political". The group in question is the "Friends of Sam Smith Park".

Almost everyone from the community who spoke during the proceedings strongly opposed the skating trail. The few in support (you could pretty well count them on the fingers of one hand) mainly stressed that it was a wonderful idea because it would attract visitors to the area.

It was at this point that I had an opportunity speak. I suggested something which happens regularly at meetings, particularly if a contentious issue is being discussed - a show of hands for or against the proposal on the floor. You wouldn't believe how fast the microphone was taken away form me. Despite a strong show of support and much repeating of my suggestion throughout the room, we were told it was "inappropriate". I would have thought that at a meeting claiming to "seek community feedback" on a local project, a show of hands would have been welcomed.

Thursday evening's meeting has left me upset, angry and very disappointed in the City of Toronto government. I was offended to find that the meeting was run by an outside organization paid out of my tax dollars, rather than chaired by my Councillor who, for some strange reason, seemed to feel he needed visible police protection. Supposedly the meeting was to be an exercise in democracy ­government paying attention to the will of the people - but, sadly, it was more about intimidation and manipulation.

What is your position on Councillor Grimes' behaviour and on the skating trail in Colonel Sam Smith Park? If a Councillor were unwilling to speak with his or her constituents about legitimate community concerns, what would you suggest they do? Please reply. Your answers are important not only to me and my community, but to everyone who lives in the City of Toronto.

Moira Jubinville Etobicoke, Ontario.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN SUPPORTS FOSS'S POSITION ON PUBLIC ADVISORY BOARD

ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN EDITORIAL - June 12/08
An ice-skating trail proposal is kicking up opposition and a sense of deja vu among south Etobicoke residents who opposed a similar recreational development plan for a lakefront park only two years ago.

The negative response - and some positive - were aired at a community consultation meeting last week, where city staff presented plans for a $1.9 million project that would see a 250-metre concrete-based ice skating trail built in Colonel Sam Smith Park.

The proposal comes two years after the city and Ward 6 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) Councillor Mark Grimes abandoned a similar plan to build a concrete skateboard park in the same park. Residents argued to preserve the park's natural state and protect wildlife habitat and Ward 38 (Scarborough-Centre) Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker wrote a report advising against the plan, after he was brought in to evaluate the skateboarding pad proposal.

He also suggested striking a citizen's advisory group to help manage the park's development in a way that restores the park to its "full ecological potential". His recommendation echoed a promise made to the community by the City of Etobicoke in the 1996 Master Plan. No such group has been created, despite a willingness from community members to participate in one.

Years later, another plan to bring concrete-based recreation to the park is on the table and relations between the active community groups and the city remain tense. Though he said he's open to the idea of a community advisory group, Councillor Grimes also said he isn't interested in forming one with a group he considers to be "politically active". (i.e Friends of Sam Smith Park)

However, on an issue as contentious as this, community interests need to be represented or else any plans to develop the park will surely share a fate similar to that of the skateboarding pad proposal.

An open dialogue may also help satisfy questions regarding estimated operating costs and the city's reasons for pushing through the ice-skating trail proposal at a time when the city is cutting back on recreational costs by closing school pools and more ice surface is being built only blocks away at the site of the new Lakeshore Lions hockey arena, set to open fall 2009.

In his report A Place for Nature, a Place for Youth, Councillor De Baeremaeker wrote that there was "an opportunity to right past wrongs and to move forward in partnership with the local community and finally deliver what residents were promised for this park some ten years ago."

If the city is serious about this latest proposal and the community is determined to do what's best for Colonel Sam Smith Park, then both groups need to take a lesson from the past, put politics aside, and engage one another in an honest and helpful dialogue.

Etobicoke Guardian link

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/etobicoke/editorial/article/49760?thePub=etobicoke

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CONCESSIONS IN THE POWER HOUSE

One concern expressed directly and indirectly at the skating trail meeting the other night is that, if the facility is eventually built, will there be pressure to install a permanent concession in the Power House? And if so, will there then be pressure to build more facilities around the Power House to draw more people to provide a larger client base for that concession if rights are sold to a profit-motivated, private company?
This is what happens now in some other city parks and city-run golf courses? For example, The Grenadier Group has concession rights until 2016 in the highly profitable Grenadier Café in High Park and The Sunnyside Café on the western beaches as well as Sunnybrook Park. They were also given rights up to the year 2011 to Don Valley Golf Course, Dentonia Park Golf Course, Humber Valley Golf Course, Scarlett Woods Golf Course and Tam O’Shanter Golf Course (coincidentally, this motion was put forward by Councilor Grimes in 2006 at the Economic Development and Parks Committee).
The Grenadier Group has long been a favoured enterprise in the eyes of the city and could conceivably get a good shot at any Power House development. It is alarming to those who wish to safeguard the naturalized features of the park when they visit the company's other venues or see them describe themselves on their website as “a full service catering and entertainment business”.
It is not hard to imagine that there might be business interests who have their eye on the Power House as a restaurant, patio bar, and entertainment venue. The question is, would a skating trail be the thin edge of the wedge and precipitate an inevitable slide towards a Coney Island future for our beautiful, waterfront nature park?
Posted by Terry Smith

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN'S REPORT ON THE SKATING TRAIL MEETING

Here is the link to Tamara Shephard's article
http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/etobicoke/article/49746?thePub=etobicoke
(Note: the current article differs greatly in tone from the article that the Etobicoke Guardian carried on its online edition a few days ago and that you may have seen posted on this blog)

Monday, June 9, 2008

DOGS IN THE PARK - A SOLUTION?

The issue we all knew was coming has finally arrived - the issue of dogs on and off leash in the park. So far there has been an uneasy equilibrium between those who can live with the status quo (i.e. the vast majority of dog owners are responsible, know their individual dog's behavioual characteristics and needs, already leash undisciplined dogs, control them near wildlife, kids and cyclists, pick up after them, there aren't that many problems, so we don't need regulations etc....) and those who want change. Critics of an official off-leash area warn of legions of professional dog walkers coming from far and wide to Sam Smith Park to exercise and relieve their herds of barking, defecating dogs, of frightened wildlife, of precious park green space cordoned off for single use. Ted Tracewicz is suggesting a possible compromise solution. He can be reached at .......
titzco@yahoo.ca
Due to the recent spate of fines levied on leash-free dog owners, and to avoid any future problems which may arise between dog owners and other park users, I have decided to support the idea of designating an area within the park to be leash free. I have sent the e-mail below to Mark Grimes. Anyone else in favour of a leash free area can go to the City of Toronto Parks site and fill out the application for and off-leash area and/or send a message to Councillor Grimes.
'Dear Mr. Grimes:
Subsequent to our brief chat , I would like to emphasize my support for having a dog leash-free zone in the area surrounding the water treatment plant, on the south-west side of Colonel Samuel Smith Park. To my mind this is the best area since it would have the least impact on park users (I don't think it is even in the park proper although I could be wrong) and on park wildlife. Another advantage is the fact that it is already partially fenced, and, as you pointed out, has a gate. A fenced in area will keep our dogs safe and away from traffic.
In order to be calm and obedient, dogs need to run, play, and socialize with other dogs. Currently, we cannot fulfill this need without the threat of receiving a hefty fine. As someone who tries to limit my carbon emissions whenever possible I do not want to drive my dog around to other far away leash free areas. I have given the matter of where best to locate a leash free zone considerable thought and I have concluded that this would be the best site.
Thank-you for your consideration and support in this matter,
Ted Tracewicz'

CCFEW WEBSITE - SKATING TRAIL INFO

Here is the link.
Skating Trail at Sam Smith Park

Sunday, June 8, 2008

SKATING TRAIL MEETING COMMENT SHEET

If you were at the skating trail meeting on Thursday, you may not have been able to get a comment sheet because they had nowhere near enough for the more than 150 people who showed up. If you were able to pick one up, you may have already sent it in.
If not, we were told that e-mail submissions would be acceptable and their content would be included in the final report if received by the consultants and city staff by Thursday, June 12th.
Questions on the Comments Sheet are ...
1. Looking at the preliminary concept for the ice trail in Colonel Samuel Smith Park, what are the pros and benefits of the concept? What are the cons or challenges of the concept?
2. Looking at the preliminary concept for the ice trail, what changes would you recommend?
3. What opportunities do you see for the ice trail in Colonel Samuel Smith Park?
4. Would you be interested in participating in a working group for the ice trail?
5. Additional comments.
Bear in mind, they are asking for comments based on the notion that the trail is a done deal. Any comments you may wish to make are acceptable and do not need to follow the sheet's format.
This is not over yet and there is still room for the community to continue to voice its opinions. The comments we send in are very important. They need to know how we feel. We were told that all comments would be valued by city staff and used in the consultants' report.


When you send them in, please copy the people listed below.

Stephen O'Bright
sobright@toronto.ca

Susan Hall, Lura Consulting
shall@lura.ca

Shelley Carroll, Budget Chief
councillor_carroll@toronto.ca

Joe Mihevc, Parks, Forestry and Recreation Committee
councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca

Mayor David Miller
mayor_miller@toronto.ca

Ann Marra, Director Capital Budget Projects for Parks and Rec
amarra@toronto.ca

John Fulton
jefulton@toronto.ca

Brenda Librecz
BLibrecz@toronto.ca

Mark Grimes
councillor_grimes@toronto.ca