Monday, December 21, 2009

HISTORY OF NORTH AND JACKSON CREEKS


Michael Harrison, former President of Citizens Concerned for the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront, hosts a blog called The Lost Creeks of South Etobicoke.  He posts fascinating information with old maps and photographs of the two creeks, Jackson and North, that are referenced in the previous post.  Remnants of these two creeks flow through the Lakeshore Grounds.  There is great interest in the restoration of these two creeks by adding more water flow as part of the stormwater management initiative.  Check out his blog where you can see a photograph of the ornate stone bridge that used to cross Jackson Creek between the large and smaller swales as well as information on other lost creeks in our area. (The bridge is actually still there, buried and minus balustrades - look closely).  Double click on the 1936 map of the Ontario Mimico Hospital to see the path of these two creeks (map courtesy of Michael Harrison)

Friday, December 18, 2009

COMMENTS SENT BY FOSS TO ETOBICOKE STORMWATER MANAGEMENT FACILITIES STUDY


SEE POSTS ON THIS SUBJECT
POST 1

POST 2


Toronto Works and Emergency Services
Public Consultation Unit
55 John Street, 19th Floor
Toronto
Ont. M7Y 2W1


December 18, 2009


Attention: Josie Franch, Public Consultation Co-ordinator



Re: Etobicoke Stormwater Management Facilities Study–Ward 6



We are responding to the community meeting you held at the Assembly Hall on November 12th 2009 where the public was invited to submit comments on the implementation of stormwater management faculties in South Etobicoke. Your e-mail on November 23rd indicated that preliminary comments would be acceptable into December given the amount of material to absorb. 


Friends of Sam Smith Park is a community group of local residents and park users dedicated to protecting, enhancing and preserving Colonel Samuel Smith Park.  Our organization has been in existence for over three years and our primary interest is to maintain the park as a nature park.  The park houses a diversity of environments that provide food, habitat and protection for the many species of birds, animals and plants that live there.  It is popular with birders, wildlife photographers and those who passionately enjoy urban, naturalized areas.


Given that focus, our first response is to indicate that we see this initiative not only as a means of improving water quality for fisheries, water birds and aquatic vegetation but as an opportunity to increase natural habitat in the park.  For that reason, we would certainly favour implementation designs that blend in with the natural environment such as wetland, wet pond and/or flow balancing system.  The mechanical systems, in our opinion, are inappropriate for Sam Smith Park.


There are a couple of creeks in the park that do not have enough water to support much aquatic life.  Jackson Creek is buried and we have watched the flow of water in North Creek reduced to a mere trickle over the years.


We would like to see Jackson Creek daylighted and augmented with increased flow from stormwater.  The water would flow into the northern swale (north-east corner of the park), creating a shallow wetland for water treatment, and run under the roadway into the smaller swale from where it could be piped under the gravel path south to the lake or continue as it presently does to Rotary Park.


North Creek flows into the wetland pond through a spruce grove forming a beautiful riparian pathway that attracts migrating songbirds in the spring and fall.  Water flow is erratic and insufficient; the pond fed by the creek is frequently below optimal water level.  Stormwater could be diverted to supplement the base flow and increase opportunities for aquatic life in the creek.


If a wet pond system is considered, then its location must be carefully chosen.  Aside from diminished water flow in North Creek, the TRCA sections of the park seem to function well and would not benefit from too much disturbance.  They probably would not be suitable for another pond unless one could be put into the cultivated meadow adjacent and east of the Lakeshore Yacht Club.  Other locations north of the bicycle path should be considered.


A flow balancing system might work very well in and around the lake outflow from the wetland pond.  We understand that such a system can treat water coming from both directions.  The two bays in that area are collectors for algae floating in from the east along the shore and can smell pretty bad in the summer.


Lastly, we would like the City to look at a stormwater consolidation scenario that utilizes more than just one site.  If all the stormwater in the South Etobicoke catchment basin flows into Sam Smith Park, then, naturally, a more substantial management system requiring ill-fitting, engineered solutions would be needed.  Even though there are exciting opportunities for habitat enhancement in this initiative, as we have described above, the park’s naturalized areas are sensitive and we fear that they might be overwhelmed.


Considering that the Etobicoke project is part of the City’s 25-year wet weather flow master plan, the recommendations and observations we offer here must be considered as merely preliminary in what we hope will be a longer consultation process. It is impossible to understand all the ramifications of each design choice in such a short time without all the questions being answered.


We would be glad to discuss this with you and look forward to the next stage of this initiative.


Yours truly


Terry Smith
Acting Chair, Friends of Sam Smith Park


CC    Councillor Grimes
        Nancy Gaffney, TRCA
        Laurel Broten, MPP
        Michael Ignatieff, MP

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

HUMBER COLLEGE MAP


Ever wondered what happens in those Humber College sites that went into the old, refurbished hospital cottages?

Follow this link to map of Humber's Lakeshore campus  and click on map to see readable, large-scale version

Monday, December 14, 2009

NEW CATHOLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMING TO LAKESHORE GROUNDS

The Guardian article below indicates that there will be a go-ahead for this project to be located at the south-west corner of Kipling and Colonel Sam Smith Drive, where the heritage orchard is located. There have been few, if any, public meetings about this for the community to have input into such issues as how many trees can be preserved or will there be underground staff parking to save green space.

   

December 10, 2009


The provincially-appointed supervisor of Toronto's Catholic school board made several more approvals at Wednesday night's board meeting to pave the way for the consolidation of two Etobicoke elementary schools at a new, to-be-constructed building on Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive.
At the November meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) last month, supervisor Richard Alway adopted a resolution to consolidate Christ the King and St. Teresa schools in a new school located on approximately 2.19 acres of land just southwest of Kipling Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard West, as of June 30, 2012. The consolidation is estimated to save the board approximately $509,753 per year in classroom, school administration, and operations costs, a staff report stated.
At the December meeting of the board held on Wednesday, Alway additionally approved the relocation of St. Josaphat to the vacated St. Teresa site effective June 30, 2012; and the declaration as surplus to the needs of the TCDSB of the current Christ the King Elementary School site, located at 3672 Lake Shore Blvd. W., and the former Brother Edmund Rice Catholic Secondary School, located at 55 Pelham Ave., effective June 30, 2012.
Proceeds from the sale of those two sites (estimated at nearly $14 million) will go towards the construction of the new, $8.3 million, 519-pupil school on Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive.
With the relocation of St. Josaphat to the St. Teresa site, all three Eastern Rite schools (St. Demetrius and Josyf Cardinal Slipyj) will be located in the southern end of the former Etobicoke boundaries, necessitating Alway to also green-light the immediate initiation of a comprehensive review of all Eastern Rite schools, including service area boundaries and transportation service.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LATEST ON OFF-LEASH DOG WALKING AREA

At tonight's meeting, City Parks gave details of two off-leash dog walking areas to be established at Sam Smith and Humber Bay West.  Their "People, Dogs and Parks" policy can be read on their website. The map below shows the location for our park.  It will be approximately one and a half acres in size and be on the R.L. Clark Filtration property behind their existing fence.  Toronto Water has given permission for this area to be used, maintained and supervised by Toronto Parks on a "we'll see how it works out" basis.  It will be located near the bus loop just south of Father John Redmond School, north west of the Power House parking lot.  There will be two access entrances from the roadway and it could be up and running in a month or two.  It will be unfenced for the time being - a fence may be constructed to enclose the area in the spring.  The area will be open from 6 a.m. to 12.00 a.m., Monday through Sunday  There will be no water for dogs to drink.  There will be no lighting.  Benches and litter receptacles will be provided.  Parks may put up coyote warning signs because coyotes have been seen recently in the wooded area close by. Concerns were raised that coyotes might be removed if they were seen as a threat to the dogs.  The City has a Code of Conduct for off-leash areas and their by-law officers, we were told, will enforce it.  The Dog Owners Association that got this rolling has no legal responsibility.
DOUBLE-CLICK ON THE THUMBNAILS BELOW FOR BETTER VIEW


Sunday, November 29, 2009

SNOWY OWL REPORT


Two photographers in the park today reported seeing a snowy owl in the yacht basin, on the 4th last dock, on the east side.
This is an extremely early sighting for this species in our park.

Friday, November 20, 2009

FOSS SPEAKER EVENT


Last night, Dave Taylor from the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga gave a spirited and eloquent accounting to Friends of Sam Smith Park of his organization's beginnings and the wonderful work done there around education and stewardship.  From the initial fight to save a diverse natural area along the Credit River from development, the community and supporters have created an enduring legacy for the residents of Mississauga, a place where they can peacefully wander riverside, woodland, meadow and wetland with a good chance of seeing wildlife.  It is our goal that Sam Smith, our nature park, continues to provide that for us.
Thank you, Dave, for your inspiring story.
Let's all make sure we get out and visit Riverwood.

NEW INTERPRETIVE SIGNS COMING

Members of Friends of Sam Smith Park, CCFEW and Janette Harvey, a natural environment specialist from the City of Toronto - Parks, Forestry & Recreation have been working with some enthusiastic students from Sir Sandford Fleming to create new interpretive signage for the park.  The signs will be made from a tough acrylic that is designed to withstand weather and vandals.  They will be similar to the butterfly signs at Humber Bay East and the one we now have, thanks to CCFEW, at the south parking lot in Sam Smith.  Here is one of the signs.  The other signs will cover water birds, native plants, mammals, butterflies, beavers, snakes, wetland wildlife and forest succession.  The plan is to have them installed early next year.

FOUR COYOTES RECENTLY SEEN IN SAM SMITH

Here's a report from a local blogger of a recent coyote sighting.  Watch your small dog!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DEVELOPER VERSUS RESIDENTS OVER LOSS OF LOCAL LAKE VISTAS

The City, Toronto Region Conservation Authority and Lakeshore residents are going to the Ontario Municipal Board next week to request the OMB to deny the developer Dunpar their application to cram seven dwellings on to a small, lakeside property at 51 Lakeshore Drive at the bottom of Fourth Street, a move that substantially contravenes the City's Official Plan and South Etobicoke's zoning regulations.  It will deprive the community and Waterfront Trail users of lake vistas, walling them off with a massive townhouse barrier.
For more information, go to the residents' blog.
Please join us down at the OMB next Monday if you can.

MEETING - OFF LEASH AREA FOR SAM SMITH


It seems inevitable that the City's intention is to establish an off-leash dog walking area in Sam Smith.  The question is where.  If it ends up being anywhere other than the Water Treatment Plant's grounds, such intensive use would have a huge impact on wild life.
Come out to this meeting and share your views.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MORE INFO ON THE STORMWATER PROJECT


Today, I spoke to Josie Franch, the Public Consultation Coordinator for this project, and she told me that any end-of-pipe system put in to Sam Smith could go anywhere inside the box shown on this image.  If the system is located in the lake itself, like a flow design, then somewhere inside the shaded area is where it would be.  This is somewhat different from what we were told at the presentation where a number of "constraints" were outlined (referred to in the previous post).  Josie can be reached at 416 338 2859 or by e-mail.  The City has a web site for this project.
We will talk about this some more at Thursday's presentation where we will have some blank comment sheets available.  They are also available on line.
Many people who attended the presentation last Thursday felt that the November 26th deadline for public comment on this project is way too soon for the community to understand all the implications.  A suggested first comment might be a request for more time! 
Posted by Terry Smith

Saturday, November 14, 2009

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PRESENTATION - THURSDAY, NOV 12TH



(DOUBLE-CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW)

At last Thursday’s presentation on the Etobicoke Stormwater Management project, the community was introduced to the South Etobicoke element of the City’s 25-year plan called the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan.
There are 30 storm water outlets along the Etobicoke shoreline that carry untreated rain runoff to the lake. (In South Etobicoke, sewer and stormwater pipes are, fortunately, not connected as they are in some other parts of the city.) The City wants to build end-of-pipe systems that would collect oil, dirt, grit and pollutants from this runoff before it is discharged in to the lake. These systems would be designed to treat 90% of rainfall events up to 25 mm. The goal is to provide shoreline water that is cleaner for swimming and for wildlife.
There are a number of different systems that could be used and a number of different locations or combinations of locations that could be chosen.
Sam Smith Park is definitely on the list. There is an existing outlet in the marina just east of the clubhouse that has a floating barrier – this outlet already carries most of the runoff from a large catchment basin further north, up to the QEW. (We were told that this basin would not be increased).
The photograph on this post shows the park with different system designs that could be employed at Sam Smith at the bottom with a checkmark. The footprint of each design is to scale with the map of the park. For a detailed explanation of each of these management methods for end-of-pipe control along with all the other presentation material, go to the City’s project website.
There were many questions that would certainly impact the park and couldn’t be answered by the consultants or City staff at this time …
  • Will there be just one enormous consolidation site chosen for all the runoff or will the flow be spread out over a number of sites?
  • What are the constraints for the different systems on a park specific basis (i.e. if a wet pond solution was chosen, where are the workable locations in Sam Smith?)
  • What weight will be given to such selection criteria as habitat protection, cost, technical considerations etc?
Staff asked for public input via a comment form they handed out. They explained that this would be the only opportunity for the public to add input. The form can be found on the City's project page where it can be printed and mailed. The address where it should be mailed is at the bottom of the second page. Alternatively, there is an e-mail address and phone number there as well.  According to the City's handout, comments need to be in by November 26th.   They are hoping for site(s) and design choice to be completed by February 2010! In the opinion of most people at the meeting, this is far too early for the public to digest all the possible alternatives without a full, site-specific explanation of all the implications. This fact should definitely be expressed in any communication with the project team.
Terry Smith will replace the vacationing Allen Valk as FOSS’s representative on the Community Working group associated with this and can be contacted at tz.smith@sympatico.ca. The next meeting for this group is scheduled for January 2010, just weeks before the announcement of the chosen site(s) and system – seems extremely inadequate.
If Sam Smith is chosen as the sole or the major site, most park users who appreciate the natural elements of the park would probably go for an option that has a possibility of enhancing wildlife habitat, like a wet pond and flow balancing system combination. But, there are possible problems with this. Because of piping, gravity and proximity to the lake constraints, where could they be built? – the north swale is definitely out. What existing habitat would be removed to accommodate them? What would be the maintenance issues? … and so on. There are always concerns when development of any kind is proposed for a special place where every existing square foot is cherished. This is a complicated issue that requires a lot of thought and education.
Posted by Terry Smith

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

STORWATER MANAGEMENT ON ETOBICOKE WATERFRONT

In preparation for this Thursday's Stormwater Management presentation at the Assembly Hall, you might want to read the minutes from the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormater Management Facilities Study Community Working Group's meeting held last March

This project has many implications for Sam Smith Park.

PUBLIC MEETING - OFF LEASH AREA PROPOSAL

CCFEW BIRD WALK


Saturday, October 31, 2009

UPCOMING MEETINGS OF INTEREST

COMMUNITY UPDATE ON PROPOSED SKATEBOARD PARK
Thursday, November 5th
7.30 p.m.
Lakeshore Collegiate Institute
Cafeteria

PUBLIC INFORMATION MEETING
ETOBICOKE WATERFRONT STORMWATER MANAGEMENT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
Go to City's web site for more information on this project
Thursday, November 12th
7.00 p.m.
Assembly Hall

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NOV 19 - FOSS SPEAKER EVENT - "URBAN WIILDLIDE AND HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS"


Mark this in your calendar ......
Thursday, Nov. 19th., 7 p.m., Assembly Hall - North Room


Dave Taylor from the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga will talk about his organization’s efforts to save and enhance wildlife habitat in an urban setting and their goal to stimulate public awareness by providing educational programs and stewardship activities to the community
.
Free. Everyone welcome.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

COLONEL SAM SMITH DOG WALKERS ASSOCIATION

Check out this organization's website for the latest on the City's off-leash policy for parks and this group's goal of having a dog walking area in the RL Clark Filtration Plant.

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST

A message for all you wildlife photographers out in the park .......The Canadian Wildlife Federation is holding a photo contest. To enter, you need to join the CWF Photo Club, but membership is free.
There is also a kids' photo contest.
Check out the Canadian Wildlife Federation website for more info on this contest..

Friday, October 16, 2009

SKATING TRAIL CONSTRUCTION BEGINS.

It is very sad to see approximately 80% of the meadow chopped up , the same meadow that was fought so hard for a few years ago, that offered the promise through natural succession of maturing butterfly habitat and the progressive growth of more complex wildflower, shrub, tree and native grass colonies.

Let us hold the City to its promise that, after construction, a significant buffer between the cement of the skating trail and the adjacent, environmentally sensitive woodland, wetland and creek is established with appropriate space, plantings and berms.

I wonder how the soon-to-hibernate groundhog colony in the meadow is coping with all of this!

DUSK AND DAWN JOGGING/CYCLING ALERT!

"I found the protective fencing surrounding the building of the skating trail on the walking and cycling path. Just to let you know this is “an accident waiting to happen”!!! In the dark you cannot see the fence and as a cyclist I see someone doing a face plant or worse. Check it out yourself at 6 AM and you will see the fence just blends with the morning darkness."
FOSS member

Friday, October 9, 2009

HALLOWEEN'S COMING!

Don't forget the Charity Haunt at the
Power House
65 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive
Toronto Ontario
(Lake Shore & Kipling)

Power House Information Hotline:
416 338 1081

Further information available at http://charityhaunt.ca

FALL TREE AND SHRUB PLANTING



Many thanks to the 20 or so dedicated friends of Sam Smith, who braved the cold, rainy weather last weekend to participate in the City of Toronto's "Live Green Toronto" fall planting.

Along with a number of oak trees, many shrubs producing berries, were planted at the eastern end of the park.

In the years to come, these plants will help to attract even more songbirds to Sam Smith Park.

Photos: George Raikou

Thursday, October 8, 2009

EASTERN PATH INTO THE PARK REPAIRED



The eastern path into Sam Smith Park, off Thirteenth St., has been repaired after a summer of heavy cloudbursts caused heavy erosion to the natural paths.

Many thanks to the Toronto Parks staff for their timely response to our request.

The many cyclists, mothers with strollers and disabled users of the park can now enjoy their smooth, natural path back into Sam Smith Park once again.

Photos: George Raikou

Friday, September 25, 2009

GUARDIAN REPORTS ON SKATING TRAIL UNVEILING

Skating trail glides ahead in south Etobicoke

TAMARA SHEPHARD
September 24, 2009

Revised city plans to build a nearly $2-million ice skating trail in Colonel Samuel Smith Park drew quiet contemplation this week rather than contention.

Long-standing opponents had charged the plan is an intrusion on the lakefront retreat, an argument first raised in 2006 in a protracted battle against a controversial, now defunct, plan to build a skateboard park on the site.

But none of that was in evidence this week.

An open house unveiling by city staff Tuesday night of revised trail drawings moving the skating trail mostly out of the meadow drew few residents.

The revised city plans call for construction of a fully accessible 260-metre linear trail 4.6 metres wide in a figure eight configuration southwest of the park's Power House. Earlier plans, hotly contested by many residents, to build it north of the Power House where a woodlot is located, has since been abandoned.

"The end result works much better," Morteza Behrooz with PMA Landscape Architects said in an interview. "There's a tree planting plan for the whole area; a pond will be created. We'll be introducing new habitat to enhance the area's ecological value."

Project bids closed Sept. 11. The construction contract is expected to be awarded within a month.

"We're looking to break ground this year. We'll do the preparatory work. In spring, the job should be completed," said Daniel McLaughlin, project manager of construction operations, capital projects, with the city's parks, forestry and recreation department.

Recreational outdoor winter skating would begin in December 2010.

Resident Ian Bruce said he'd be lacing up his skates. He skates similar outdoor trails in Brampton, Scarborough, Harbourfront and on Ottawa's Rideau Canal.

"I think it's a nice concept. They made a good decision to abandon any plans to build it north of the Power House," Bruce said. "I have some concerns about conflicting uses with the natural environment, birds and wildlife, but I think this is the least damaging location."

Some residents questioned whether a community advisory group would be struck to plan the future vision of the lakeside park.

Fifteen months ago, Ward 6 Councillor Mark Grimes adamantly opposed Friends of Sam Smith Park (FOSS) membership on any committee. Grimes charged the group is "politically active" and said "nothing is going to happen there" if FOSS was involved.

A Grimes' staffer said Tuesday there is currently a moratorium on new parks' advisory committees while the city determines new terms and conditions that govern them.

"It's better than the original plan," former area councillor Irene Jones said of the new skating trail drawings. "Next, they need to plant the meadow and protect the trees in the park. The Power House needs a use. This is a good use."

But New Toronto Good Neighbours' founder Jem Cain isn't convinced.

Cain, who intends to run against Grimes again in the 2010 municipal election, argued the $2 million could be put to better community use.

"There are lots of other needs, repairs that need done to park equipment where hundreds of families would get the benefit year-round," Cain said. "There's also now free Saturday afternoon skates year-round at the new arena."

Earlier this month, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment officially opened its new MasterCard Centre for Hockey Equipment one kilometre north of the ice skating trail site on Kipling Avenue.

The new 30,000 sq. ft. Maple Leafs' and Toronto Marlies' practice arena is open to the community 250 hours a year, the result of MasterCard funding.

Community use hours include free family skates every Saturday; free open skates for students on professional development days, as well as free ice time from September to June for community groups.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SKATING TRAIL DESIGN SHOWN TO PUBLIC TODAY

These are the final design and computerized visualization of the skating trail presented to the public this evening at Father John Redmond. (Double click on images for larger scale). The design is very close to the concept sketch we were given before the summer and which can be found on this blog. Approximately 40% of the western section of the meadow will be lost to the trail. We were told that construction will start very soon and that the excavation and concrete forms will be completed before the end of December when construction will stop until resuming in April to finish the project. The lighting shines downwards and the music will come from speakers on the lamp posts, not broadcast from the Power House. We were told that the TRCA will furnish funds for planting and habitat restoration in the remainder of the meadow and in the woodlot north of the Power House. There is, as yet, no significant movement towards the establishment of the long-called-for Citizen's Management and Advisory Board for the Park.

Friday, September 11, 2009

SPEED SKATERS INTERESTED IN PROPOSED FAMILY SKATING TRAIL

Etobicoke Speed Skaters will be attending the September 22nd. meeting at Father John Redmond where the design for the skating trail will be presented at 6.30 p.m. Their obvious interest in using the trail for practice takes the original concept of family, recreational skating further than what was originally presented. It is important that this meeting be well attended.
Check out their blog.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

CCFEW AUTUMN BIRD WALKS - Sun., Sept. 13 and Sat., Oct. 17

Sunday, September 13th 

9:00 - 11:00 am, Colonel Sam Smith Park
Leader: Glenn Coady
Meet in the south parking lot (where the road ends) at 9:00 am 

Saturday October 17th 

9:00 - 11:00 am, Colonel Sam Smith Park
Leader: Hugh Currie

Meet in the south parking lot (where the road ends) at 9:00 am

The walks are lead by experienced birders and are free for anyone who is interested in attending. Everyone is welcome! 

Walks are held rain,or shine!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

CITY'S OFF-LEASH DOG PARK POLICY

Information Session: Off-Leash Dog Park Policy

Wednesday September 16

6:30pm-8:30pm

Mimico Centennial Library, 47 Station Rd.

Please visit http://www.markgrimes.ca/off-leash-dog-park-meeting/ for more details

REVISED SKATING TRAIL DESIGN TO BE UNVEILED SEPTEMBER 22ND

Open House: Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail

Tuesday September 22

6:30pm-8:30pm

Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School foyer, 28 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr.

The purpose of this meeting is to present the revised layout for the skating trail project. For more information please visit http://www.markgrimes.ca/skating-trail/

See previous FOSS post on the revised design

Friday, August 28, 2009

ROM EVENT - MIGRATING SONGBIRDS - OCT. 18

For the next month, 3 billion, miraculous, colorful songbirds are migrating through the city of Toronto on route to Latin America to spend the winter. They will stay there for 7 months and then head back north in the spring to the boreal forest - "Canada's songbird nursery of the north!" So keep your eyes peeled! At daybreak, they come down to rest and may be seen darting expertly among the foliage of your trees and shrubs in search of tasty insects. They are most likely Warblers. They move fast and can seem quite tiny. You may see some flashes of yellow which is a predominant color of many. They are refueling! By the time they reach Latin America, they will have flown approximately 5,000 km in the black of night!!
Please come out to this interesting event to learn more and to discover
what simple things you can do to help these miraculous migrants!
Miraculous Migrants:
Why Songbird Conservation Begins at Home!
Sunday, October 18, 1 - 3 pm
Please join Dr. Bridget Stutchbury of York University and Christina Sharma of Project CHIRP! at the Royal Ontario Museum for an informative and empowering talk on songbird conservation. Review present songbird population trends, causes and solutions, the miraculous feats of our migratory songbirds, and how to create songbird-friendly gardens. Discover how your choices as a consumer can protect critical songbird habitat.
Call 416-236-7234 for more information

Thursday, August 13, 2009

MYSTERY MAMMAL CATCHES A FISH




Recently, one of our Sam Smith "on the spot" photographers forwarded a number of picks of our "mystery mammal" catching a fish.

Here are a few of the pictures for you to enjoy.

The hunt! The catch! The reward!!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

STORM DESTRUCTION SURROUNDS SAM SMITH



Sam Smith Park was very lucky over the last three weeks to elude much of the tree damage that surrounding parks suffered.

At the end of July, Rotary Park, just to the east, endured major damage, which destroyed two trees and many downed branches.

This past weekend, Marie Curtis Park, just to the west, was featured on local Toronto newscasts, with six magnificent mature willow trees being knocked over and some damage to other tree's limbs.

Here are some views of the Marie Curtis willows, courtesy of George Raikou.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

GOING BATTY

One of the interesting things to do at Sam Smith in the late evening on a night with a clear sky is to go out and watch the bats!

Bats are our friend and eat plenty of annoying insects which come out just before dark. One of the best places for viewing is near the eastern entrance at Thirteenth St.  Just stand beside the path as you come in look out to the north across the open field.  

You can easily spot them fluttering about silently as they swoop in a circle from tree to tree.

Photo courtesy George Raikou

Friday, August 7, 2009

GREBES EXPECTING AGAIN.


After the violent storms early in July, which wiped out the first nest and egg, our valiant grebes have shown some typical Sam Smith fortitude and rebuilt their watery abode.  There are at least 2 eggs currently, which were seen as of the end of July.

If all things go well, we can expect to see our first baby grebes sometime near the middle of August.

Additionally, the newest pair of grebes in the yacht basin are noisily mating and appear to be building a nest beside the orange buoy between the yachts and nest of our original pair.

With any luck we may be observing juvenile grebes well into September!

Photos courtesy of "snapnclk"

Monday, August 3, 2009

LEAVE IT TO BEAVERS

Angelicque James writes: "This evening my husband and I spotted three adult beavers, and 4 young beavers. We're not sure if it's all the same family, it seemed two young beavers hung around one very patient mama, and the other two hung around a very NOT patient mama. The male was seen on his own."

Here is some video of our beaver population provided by Angelicque;





Also, you can view some of Angelicque's other Sam Smith beaver videos;

Mama Beaver:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJHr4Pd-s0E 

Beaver Family:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7nfjjY1No4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYTpQetWGsU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJEZM36b5YQ

Thanks for these great peeks into Sam Smith beaver life!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

LAKESHORE MARDI GRAS - AUGUST 7-9

Next weekend, August 7th to 9th, the 6th Annual Lakeshore Mardi Gras will be held at Colonel Sam Smith Park.

There are many concerts and performers to see...here is a list, as well as a link to the website...

http://lakeshoremardigras.ca

Friday

Free Concert in the Park
Main Stage Colonel Samuel Smith Park
 
6:30 to 8:15 PM Two For The Show
START 8:30 PM Fiddelstix
 
Saturday
Noon - 1:45 PM Harvest Moon
2:00-3:45 PM Spider Jones & The Fabulous Web
4:00-5:45 PM Uptown Express
6:00-7:45 PM George Oliver & Gangbuster
START 8:30 PM Honeymoon Suite
   
Sunday
Noon - 1:45 PM The Homeless Band
2:00- 3:45 PM Diva Mom's & The Three Dad's
4:00-4:45 PM Freedom Train
START 5:00 PM Paul James Band

Monday, July 27, 2009

GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR ENJOYMENT


Some of the the most interesting things to see at Sam Smith park are not flying in the skies, roosting in the trees or swimming around on the lake or in the pond. You can have lots of fun just watching your step and keeping your eye on the ground!

Many birds, such as the killdeer, lay their eggs in nests built in the soil. Have you ever seen a bird pretending to have a broken wing? It is a killdeer trying to lead you away from the eggs it has laid on the ground!






Perhaps you have seen a blur crossing your path or wiggling into the bushes? It may be a local snake which has been hatched in the rocks near the observation deck. Juvenile snakes are just starting to be seen as summer heats up!







Even some spectacular, colourful plants in all their glory are only a glance away down into the meadow. The bumblebees certainly are their biggest fan!

So, the next time you are passing through the park, watch out for that mink, groundhog, or many other of our grounded treasures!





Photos courtesy of Walter Weary and George Raikou.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

FROGS NEAR THE OBSERVATION DECK


There has been much concern over the last few years regarding the drop off in the frog population in Sam Smith park.

Last week, George Raikou was able to photograph some frogs in the pond near the observation deck.

Hopefully this is an indigenous species and not a pet that has been released into the wild.

Any confirmation on this from the photograph here, is welcomed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

COOPER'S HAWKS HAVE FLEDGED



There was some concern after the storm on Saturday, which appears to have wiped out the nest of the Cooper's Hawks near the playing oval.

Happily, two fledglings were spotted on Thursday morning, in the fir trees, just north of the Powerhouse. The juveniles were vocalizing quite loudly and flying from tree to tree in the sunny weather.

If you are lucky and patient, you may be able to spot them for yourself the next time you are walking the path between the south parking lot and the two schools.

Great to see another generation of hawks in and around Sam Smith Park. The first of these pics depicts one of our hawks eating their prey.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

GREBES HAVE PRODUCED AN EGG, AND A SECOND PAIR OF GREBES

Update August 3:The grebes are incubating at least 1 egg as of the end of July. Both the female and the male are taking turns incubating and also are now defending their nest site against a SECOND pair of grebes now residing in the yacht club basin!

Update July 15: The grebes have returned to their original nest site. The female is sitting on the remnants and may be heavy with another egg.
Let's hope for success!

Update July 12: In the aftermath of Saturday's powerful storms, which caused much damage to the vicinity, the egg and nest were gone as of Sunday morning. Hopefully the grebes will return next year to try again. Many friends of Sam Smith have certainly enjoyed watching them over the last few months.
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George Raikou has photographed the grebes tending to a new egg near the eastern end of the yacht club basin.

Last year this pair nested in the reeds nearby and also laid eggs. The eggs were found scattered about afterward, so this year the birds have built the nest offshore.

Here's hoping for more eggs in the next few days and some successful hatches by early August.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

COOPER'S HAWKS

Photograph from George Raikou of one of the Cooper's Hawk chicks stretching its wings. The hawks are nesting again in the park close to the spot where they were last year (in a spruce tree at the top end of North creek). This is the third year in a row they have chosen nesting sites in the trees around the Power House.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SKATING TRAIL

In spite of requests from the community for a public meeting on the revised skating trail design, the Councillor's office is making it clear that there will be no more public discussion about this project. Below is a response from the Councillor Grime' executive assistant to such a request from a local resident. It explains the City's position.
Given that this new design is totally different from the concept designs already presented and encroaches on the meadow south of the Power House that was so hotly defended by the community when it was under threat from a skateboarding facility, it is surely advisable to allow the communuty a final say before it goes to tender and construction begins.

As you are no doubt aware the vision for an ice skating trail arises from the Moore George Report which was the master plan for the Lakeshore Grounds. This was more than a decade ago. In accordance with requirements for an environmental assessment , the City
of Toronto has held two public meetings in the last year in regards to the Proposed Ice Skating Trail.
The purpose of these meetings is for a community consultation to have input from the local residents regarding suggestions or concerns they may have for the proposal. Everyone in the Ward were invited to attend the public meetings, including those who had concerns regarding a previous proposal a skateboard park
During the first meeting the topic of discussion was a proposed location at the south end of the Power House in Colonel Sam Smith Park.
Following that meeting, where suggestions were made regarding the location, a second meeting was convened to suggest the location of the trail in the Woodlot to the North end of the Power House.
Once the public meetings had been convened the suggestions and information from the community input is considered in the final plans. The Project has been reviewed by the Provincial Ministry of the Environment, the TRCA and the community has had input. The majority of individuals who contacted staff or the councillors office were in favour of an ice skating trail in Colonel Sam Smith Park.
The project has been through all stages of the assessment process and has been approved by City Council
The Councillor has also taken the time to have staff meet with additional representatives of the community to hear their concerns and address the relevant issues wherever possible.
It is as a result of these many community meetings and the input from the consultation process that the final plan was shaped. Councillor Grimes has made every effort to exceed the city 's basic his legal obligations on this project. Many steps have been taken to concerns raised, such as the re-use of areas that are already paved, the movement of a large portion of the trail to the area south west of the power house, community involvement in the re-planting of the meadow etc.
The Councillor appreciates the input and suggestions that has arisen from the dialogue with the community, and many of them have been incorporated into the final plan.


Monday, June 22, 2009

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT MEETING PROBABLY POSTPONED DUE TO CITY STRIKE

Hi everyone,
As I'm sure you are all aware, negotiations between the City of Toronto and both union locals (79 and 416) are continuing. Both union locals, however, are in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 22, 2009.
Should a labour disruption occur prior to June 24th, the scheduled date of the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormwater Management Facilities Study, please be advised that the public meeting will be postponed until further notice.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.
Thank you
Josie Franch (Giordano)
Sr. Public Consultation Co-ordinator
Public Consultation Unit
City of Toronto
Phone: 416-338-2859 Fax: 416-392-2974
TTY: 416-397-0831 Email: jfranch@toronto.ca
55 John Street, Metro Hall 19th Floor, Toronto, ON M5V 3C6

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT ISSUES IN PARK

It is important that members of FOSS attend the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormwater Management Study meeting being held at the Assembly Hall on Wednesday June 24 at 7 p.m ( See previous blog post ).
We understand that the plan is for storm water to be be pumped to a holding facility somewhere in Sam Smith. There has been talk about daylighting some of the creeks in the park and re-establishing the bigger swale as a pond/wetland area.
This will have a huge impact on the park and public input is required.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CCFEW BIRD WALK THIS WEEKEND

Don Burton will be leading a Bird Walk this Saturday, June 13th at Colonel Samuel Smith Park from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Spring migration is over. Now we can see the wide variety of birds that make the park their home for the summer. Notable among the nesting species is a pair of Red-necked Grebes which look to be intent on creating the second nest ever recorded in Toronto. 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.
The photograph of the pair of red-necked grebes is by George Raikou who offers this comment .... "If they are the same two..last year they build their nest and had three eggs but the nest was lost . This year they are building the nest further in the bay. They like to put on a show just after mating."




Wednesday, June 10, 2009

LATEST SKATING TRAIL DESIGN

This is the latest concept design recently forwarded from Councillor Grimes' office for the skating trail projected to be built by December 2009. (Double-click on image for larger view). Note that parking spaces have been removed to accommodate this south-west design option. There is some intrusion into the meadow. The woodlot north of the Power House is not part of the design. We are told that funds have been set aside for plantings in the meadow and for the restoration of the understorey in the woodlot next year.
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