Monday, December 27, 2010

STORMWATER COMMUNITY GROUP MEETS WITH CITY

On December 13th, 2010, the City and their consultants presented to the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormwater Management Facilities Study Community Working Group.  The purpose of the presentation was to share with us the City's preliminary choices for dealing with end-of-pipe stormwater before it gets discharged in to the lake.  
This was the second meeting with the group (FOSS, CCFEW and Lakeshore Planning Council, as well as some other community representatives, are members).  Meeting #1 was about fifteen months ago and that first meeting was followed by a public meeting at which the community was asked to offer submissions on the matter.  FOSS, as well as CCFEW and many others, sent in submissions.  Click here to see FOSS's submission.
To our knowledge, community comments generally aligned with FOSS's position and favoured natural solutions (i.e. wetland, wet-ponds, creek water level enhancement etc.) over engineered designs.
The City, in fact, told us that, because of public comments they had received, they gave "Natural Criteria" the top weighting in their evaluation of alternative solutions.  Then, to our surprise, their evaluation results showed a totally engineered design as the first choice on their short list!  This was pretty well what was shown to the workgroup 15 months ago, before public input was requested.
The design involves an underground storage shaft and pump station in Sam Smith Park with buried transfer pipes along streets coming in to the park from east and west.  There is no enhancement whatsoever to natural habitat in the park.  Rainwater in South Etobicoke would be completely transferred and processed underground as it makes it way to the lake - without any benefit at all the to the natural environment or to public enjoyment.
Members of the group made strong pitches for at least some of the water flow to be directed to habitat improvement and suggested that the community at the next public meeting may feel their input has been largely ignored .
The image below shows details (double click for larger image)
That second public meeting is proposed for Spring, 2011.  FOSS will send details to our e-mail list when they are known.

FROZEN ART AT SAM SMITH - GEORGE RAIKOU




Tuesday, December 7, 2010

LYME DISEASE CARRYING TICK FOUND IN SAM SMITH

A dog walker in the park says she recently found a tick on her dog, which she had a vet remove.  It turns out that the tick was not only a species that could carry Lyme disease but, in fact, has now been tested and is positive for Lyme disease.  The only place she had walked her dog in the previous weeks was in Sam Smith Park.  She feels that she would be remiss if this information was not shared.
She says, “The tick looked very much like a smudge of dirt and, when I tried to remove it, it stuck.  It also had a very rubbery feel to it.  Our vet noted that it is not unheard of for tick populations to rise during bird migratory periods and Sam Smith Park is on a direct route for many migrating birds.  Our vet was also quite adamant about getting our pet on a regimen of antibiotics as soon as possible to minimize any effects the tick may have on her so I didn’t want to take this lightly.”
This has been passed on to a Natural Environment Specialist with the City's Parks.  We are told that there have been unconfirmed reports of these ticks on the Toronto Islands so it makes sense that they could be in other places along the waterfront.
City Parks has passed this on to Toronto Public Health. Here is their response -
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It is not uncommon to find a positive tick anywhere in Ontario however, Colonel Sam Smith park is not recognized as a hot spot with an established blacklegged tick population. We will note the finding and consider having the park assessed by dragging in the area next season.
Above are some links for more information.

Friday, November 12, 2010

MARIE CURTIS REVITALIZATION PLANS

Plans were unveiled for the Marie Curtis Park revitalization at a public consultation meeting at the Assembly Hall Tuesday night.

For map, plans and details check out last night's Etobicoke Guardian report or read 27th Street blogger Mr. Anchovy 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

POWER HOUSE CHARITY HAUNT

Carol Goar in yesterday's Toronto Star wrote an interesting column on the Power House of Terror charity haunt.  Sick Kids' Foundation has dropped out as a recipient of funds from this event.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SCHOOL TRUSTEE CANDIDATE SUPPORTS NATURE CENTRE AT POWER HOUSE

If you're unsure about which Toronto District School Board Trustee to vote for next Monday, Terry Smith received the following commitment from candidate Andy Kyriakos today.  Having the Power House become a Nature Centre for the use of Toronto public and separate school students has long been a goal of FOSS and we have not yet had a strong champion at the City level for this.
 
Hi Terry,
It was great seeing you again today. I would definitely support establishing an eco center in the power house at Sam Smith Park and will provide any assistance possible should I get elected as the Toronto District School Board Trustee for Etobicoke Lakeshore.

I spend a lot of time cycling and walking along the trails at SamSmith. It is a true treasure on the lake shore. I am also a long time member of the Bruce Trail Society and feel it is important to preserve as much of urban rural naturalized areas as possible. In an increasingly urbanized society, this is an ongoing effort. Education is a key component necessary to keep the environment top of mind in our community. You have my full support on this.

Kindest regards,

Andy Kyriakos
Candidate for TDSB Trustee in Ward 3

Monday, October 11, 2010

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND ABANDONED, SICK OR INJURED ANIMALS IN THE PARK

On Sunday, two local residents found a pet rabbit and later found two kittens abandoned behind the Power House in the wooded area near the creek. The kittens were in a pet carrier case and who ever left them there had left some cans of food open for them.  The kittens had not ventured out of their case.  The kittens were adorable, very playful, very hungry and a little frightened.

The abandoned animals were taken to a nearby animal shelter (directions below) and the kind animal lovers who found them were assured that they would be taken care of.  They pets would be observed for about a week, checked by a vet and then adopted out.


So, keep your eyes open, and make sure that, if you do find strays, the animal shelter operated by the Toronto Animal Services at 146 East Mall will take them in.  The general phone number for them is 416 338 7297.  The location is approximately 427 and Dundas Street West.  Hours of operation 10.30 to 6.30, 7 days a week.


For concerns about sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, or any other wildlife-related question or concern, please call the Toronto Wildlife Center at 416 631 0662.  Hours of operation 9 to 6, 7 days a week.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

PARK VOLUNTEERS


Community volunteers met last Friday with City Parks staff Janette Harvey and Bernie to learn about Japanese Knotweed, an invasive species that is now showing  up in the park.  Several large clumps of this tall species were cut down by two very enthusiastic young helpers, AJ and Jamie, with a little help from the adults.
Forty shrubs and trees were also planted at the G20 site to increase the wildlife habitat there.  Species included elderberry, dogwood, cedar and silver maple.


LAKESHORE GROUNDS NEWS

  • There are plans to build a new elementary school on the grounds to amalgamate St Theresa and Christ the King. The new school will be arts-focused.  (Location, SW corner Kipling and Sam Smith)
  • The skate trail adjacent to the Power House is opening this Fall. A few things need to be finished off. This will happen once the Power House of Terror is finished. Hopes are that the trail will be open to the public early in the season.  Washrooms will be open during the day. Parks division will be taking care of the washrooms when the skate trail is open. They will open the facility, drop in to clean and close up in the evening.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SAM SMITH BIRD WALK

CCFEW Bird Walk
Saturday, October 16, 9:00 - 11:00 am
Colonel Samuel Smith Park
Leader: Don Burton
Meet in he south parking lot (were the road ends) at 9:00, rain or shine.
These walks are sponsored by Birds & Beans an are free for all to attend.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR SAM SMITH CLEAN-UP THIS FRIDAY (OCTOBER 8TH)

A collaborative event between the city, the community, a company, a club,
concerned students and conservation groups, cooperating in a concerted
effort to clean up, conserve and contribute to one of the city's most
beautiful and natural waterfront settings, Colonel Samuel Smith Park. A
local company with a green conscience, Southern Graphic Systems, is taking
the initiative to pitch in, make a difference and help mentor the next
generation on stewardship of this precious natural resource and educate them
on its many special treasures.

Volunteers are needed for waterfront walkway trail edge weed clean-up,
invasive species removal specifically targeting Japanese Knotweed, wildlife
habitat enhancement planting adding to the spring G20 planting area, and
mentoring for a new student park-stewardship program. We're expecting
volunteers from the community and each of the club and conservation groups
to join us.

The multi-activity route through Colonel Samuel Smith Park will begin around
10am by the lakefront walkway, west of the entrance to the boat club,
Friday, October 8th or 15th or 22nd, 2010 until after 12 noon.

The City will provide most of the equipment (gloves, shovels, plant
material, hand pruners, buckets, mulch) and staff support for the event.
*PLEASE do not wear open-toed footwear!

Contact Jim Carr at hjimcarr@gmail.com  for more information.
Cell 416 525-1325
LOCATION .....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"SONGBIRDS AND MIGRATION" EVENT

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7TH
Birds and Beans together with the Royal Ontario Museum invite you to "Songbirds and Migration: Making the Connection" to celebrate and highlight the migration of neotropical birds' fall migration through Toronto on their way to overwinter in warmer climates. They will start with a meet and greet with 9 bird friendly organizations over a cup of their delicious organic Bird Friendly® certified coffee followed by a wonderful evening of presentations by representatives from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, York University in Toronto, and Project CHIRP! who will discuss migrating songbirds from different but connected perspectives. For details see their flyer. Admission is free. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES IN SAM SMITH

Monarch butterflies are beginning to gather in groups at Sam Smith for the great migration south.  Look for them in the trees and shrubs.
(See these recent photographs)

Ancient Native legends have told of waves of monarch butterflies heading southward in the autumn. For thousands of years, their destination was unknown. In 1975, the monarchs' overwintering grounds were officially discovered by Dr. Fred Urquhart of the University of Toronto. Following reports of butterflies he and others had tagged in Canada, Dr. Urquhart was led to the evergreen forests high in the volcanic mountains of central Mexico. There he discovered the monarchs.
Monarch Migration Map
© Parks Canada
Tens of millions of monarchs arrive at their wintering grounds each autumn. Here, they hang on the trees in such numbers that they bend the boughs. The cold winter temperatures cause the monarchs to become almost dormant. This allows them to live off their previously stored energy. Monarchs do not become active again until February, when the drive to reproduce carries them northward.
Monarch Lifecycle
© Parks Canada
The monarch migration cycle is a mystery. Through the summer there are two, possibly three, generations raised in Ontario. The life cycle from egg to adult can take only a month, however, most large butterflies take about 45 days (see the life cycle). The generations that emerge in late summer and autumn are somehow triggered to become migratory.
These monarchs overwinter in Mexico and mate there in early spring. On their way north, eggs are laid on fresh milkweed and the adult dies some time thereafter. A few monarchs that have overwintered in Mexico return to Ontario (during May), an incredible journey of 3000 kilometres. However, it is the generation that is produced between Mexico and Canada that returns in numbers, mainly in June.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NEW PLANTINGS FOR FALL 2010

As part of the Trees Across Toronto/Toronto Water tree planting program, Urban Forestry is proposing new plantings at Colonel Samuel Smith Park. The proposed plan is intended to increase the urban forest canopy, increase habitat and biodiversity and reduce stormwater. The sites would be prepared by rototilling and subsoiling prior to planting. The planting would be a combination of native bare root and potted tree and shrub species. 
The planting around the off-leash dog park will be on the perimeter as there are water tanks beneath the area.  Dog walkers have been asking for trees in this area to provide shade and wind protection.
(The two maps below show the planting areas.  Double-click on maps for enlarged view)
 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEM WITH PARK'S NEW INTERPRETIVE SIGNS

Walt, a local resident and Friends of Sam Smith Park member, has brought to the attention of the City Parks Department that the wonderful, new interpretive signage around the park is very difficult to view for park visitors in wheelchairs and also for young children.  The angle and height do not allow everyone to enjoy them.  There have been some site visits with Walt and City staff to determine the best pedestal height and angle and we are told that some action will follow.
This is a universal problem in City Parks and needs to be corrected and taken into consideration with future interpretive projects.
Kudos to Walt for following through on this and to the City for its quick response.

ICONIC POPLAR TREE CUT DOWN FOR SKATING TRAIL

The poplar that was too healthy to remove has now been removed!

OFF-LEASH FENCE PROBLEMS

Here is an interesting post from a local blogger about the fence that the City is building around the off-leash dog walking area at the filtration plant and the issues that it is bringing up. 
The City really does need to make sure that public consultations are just that.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

STORMWATER MEETING AT LAMP

Lakeshore Planning Council has invited City staff to speak to the community and answer questions about the Stormwater Management Plan that is being prepared for South Etobicoke.  This plan may have have huge implications for the park.  Friends of Sam Smith Park, as well as CCFEW and others, have advocated for natural solutions that would enhance wildlife habitat in the park to treat end-of-pipe storm water.

The meeting is at LAMP (Fifth Street, north of Lakeshore Blvd) on Thursday, July 8th from 7.30 to 9.30.  The last time they were invited it was canceled at the last minute so be sure to check out Lakeshore Planning Council's website for up to the minute information.

For background information, type in "stormwater" in the FOSS website search bar above.

Friday, June 25, 2010

DOGS DISTURBING WILDLIFE

There have been recent complaints from park users about the number of dogs being walked off leash and disturbing wildlife, particularly since the new signage has gone up alerting people to bird-sensitive areas.  It has been suggested that dog walkers may not know about the new off-leash designated area near the filtration park and signs should be put up in Sam Smith to inform people.  Here is the response to that suggestion from David Chapman, Park Supervisor.

"We are not in the habit of extensive signage in areas other than that were the "Off Leash" area actually is. That is because in all parks, "if it is not a designated off leash area" all dogs are to be on a leash. In addition there will be a fenced off area as soon as the TRCA installs the new fencing. It's best to call 338 - PAWS (Animal Control) and not 311, since they are in fact the actual by-law enforcement section of MLS which would be called in.
 
David'e e-mail address is dchapman@toronto.ca

SAM SMITH PARK ENVIRONMENT DAY


For a list of things you can take and get at this event, click here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

DEAD MAMMALS IN PARK

Heather Jack sent these photographs of unknown, dead mammals floating in the ponds in the park.  She reports finding scenes like these every few weeks by the bridge, the second beach and the pond. 

Has anyone else noticed an increase in deaths?  Is there something going on here that is unusual and should be checked in to?



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"ART IN THE PARK" SESSIONS TO CONTINUE - COME ON OUT!

On Monday, Don and Donna-Marie led the first "art in the park" session.  Both artists are very knowledgeable and more than willing to share tips and techniques, especially to beginning artists.
They are holding more sessions next Monday, (June 28th), one in the morning at 9 a.m. and one in the evening at 7.30 p.m. 
Meet in the South Parking lot.
Bring art materials.
(If you arrive late or cannot find the group, call Don's cell 416 460 5688).   
Questions?  E-mail Don McClement or call him at 416 259 5856.

Monday, June 14, 2010

FIRST ART IN THE PARK SESSION

The first "art in the park" session will take place on Monday, June 21st at 9 a.m.  Meet in the South parking lot.  The get-together will be related to photography as well as art.  Bring art materials, (and a camera) and be prepared to move to a spot with the group to do some sketching.

Questions?  E-mail Don McClement or call him at 416 259 5856.

LET'S ALL HELP PROTECT THE NESTING GREBES

The Toronto Region Conservation Authority has posted these notices close to the nesting platforms being used by the two Red Necked Grebe pairs.  Observers have reported eggs in at least one of the nests.  This is the third year that these persistent uncommon birds have struggled to raise families in our park.

It is imperative that we do more than simply walk by saying "Tut tut" to ourselves when we witness photographers, dog walkers or curious park users getting up real close to these birds.  We need to speak up and remind them why the notices are there.

CLIFF SWALLOW COLONY GROWING


Over the past few years, birders have watched the steady annual growth of the Cliff Swallow colony that has chosen to set up residence under the east eave of the R.L. Filtration Plant at the south-west corner of Sam Smith Park.  Yesterday's count showed seventy nests.
 









Cliff Swallows breed in large colonies. They build conical mud nests and lay 3-6 eggs. The natural nest sites are on cliffs, preferably beneath overhangs, but man-made structures are now the principal locations for breeding.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

THIS AIN'T NO CARP


Have you spotted this colourful critter yet?

The "gold fish"? has been seen on several occasions swimming in the lake near the entrance to the pond.

It is over one foot long.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

ANYONE INTERESTED IN DOING ART IN THE PARK?

If anyone is interested in meeting on an agreed and somewhat regular basis to do some art around the neighbourhood (Sam Smith Park and area), please contact Don McClement at 416 259 5876 or e-mail him.

(Don, along with Donna-Marie Batty, led art and photography groups for Friends of Sam Smith Park at last Saturday's Bird Festival)