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!