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


video

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.


video

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.

video