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