Thursday, October 31, 2013


These are unedited brainstorming notes taken at the October 17th. open community meeting to discuss the opportunity for creating in Sam Smith Park a "community vegetable garden" and a "transformational healing garden". A map and additional information was previously posted on this blog. 
Two committees will be meeting shortly to take these concepts further.
It is understood that the City is considering funding a water-main link and a surrounding fence for the vegetable garden. Applications to the City are currently being made and it is hoped that the projects will start next spring.
The next Community Garden Meeting will be Thursday, November 7th 7-8:30pm. Location LAMP CHC 185 5th Street.  Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

Community Brainstorming Suggestions - Healing Garden
  • Reflect a place where people can talk about social and environmental issues 
  • Sculptures representing healing from abuse. Wood carvings. 
  • Flowers, plants, lighting, rocks
  • Sacred medicines, or medicinal: cultural, tea, smudging, etc 
  • Expand commemorations (remembrance of people) in the garden
  • Objects/features that establish hope. Telling a story
  • Symbolism 
  • Fun Fact: Lakeshore psychiatric hospital used to have a green house in the exact same spot (as the healing garden is going to be) back in the day
  • Can help people who are hurting and needing to heal 
  • People of the community can help choose plants 
  • Symbolism should be the focus so that no one feels that their personal trauma was not significant enough 
  • Should consider plants that attract certain animals: ie. Birds, bees, butterflies 
  • Place for workshops: for students and people hurting 
  • Music in background: wind chimes, drum 
  • Inspiration and hope that comes out of growth- a garden does this 
  • Daily garden (treat big things in small ways) 
  • Pressure on/from community to expand gardening 
  • City funded garden 
  • Garden to reflect the beauty and resilience of people undergoing transformation 
  • Connected with 26 countries that will be represented 
  • Our planet needs symbols that show we care about our communit 
  • Texture, color, site, fragrance 
  • Drums for people’s use- could be kept in the gatehouse when not in use. Gatehouse people connecting with healing garden people. 
  • Waterfall-white noise, calming 
  • Cover space? Meditations? 
  • Can also think of a garden of different spaces and paths- one space invites you into another. Different spaces with different functions within the garden. 
  • Labyrinth, hand sculpture wall (survivor monument project)

Community Brainstorming Suggestions - Produce Garden

  • Both individual and communal plots (2/3 individual, 1/3 community?)
  • Communal plots can end up selling produce to community
  •  Section for teaching children
  • Different types of gardens: butterfly meadow, herb garden, kitchen garden, field trips from daycares/schools
  • Area for workshops-Gazebo, pavilion
  • Campbell soup to possible contribute
  • Raised beds for seniors-correctly measured plots for accessibility issues) Lots of literature/resources for seniors and gardening.
  • Use recycled materials, collecting rainwater to cut down on city water, permeable paving which has storage underneath to collect water-environmental sustainability


Below is a position taken by the newly reorganized Friends of Sam Smith Park steering committee on the issue of off-leash dogs in the park.  (Reorganization details to follow soon)

This position is a follow up to complaints from many of our members about dogs running wild through environmentally sensitive areas and harassing wildlife.  A Toronto Star article this summer, a FOSS blog post with lots of comments and a publication from Friends of High Park prompted us to wade in to this difficult issue.
In response to a recent Toronto Star article about dogs running off leash in Colonel Samuel Smith Park and the negative impact that has had on wildlife, particularly to meadow and shore birds, Friends of Sam Smith Park received on its website many thoughtful comments from concerned members and other park users.

Remarks ranged from banning dogs altogether in the naturalized lake fill portion of the park to allowing dogs to run free.

However, the majority of comments, while describing and lamenting the harmful effect dogs running free impose on ecologically sensitive areas, pointed to three approaches – more signage, more enforcement of the leash bylaw and education.

These are the approaches that Friends of Sam Smith Park considers the most effective given the reality of the situation.

Sam Smith Park, although primarily a “nature” park, does not have the same status as Tommy Thompson Park (Leslie Street Spit) which the Conservation Authority, which controls it, describes as “an urban wilderness” where dogs and cars are not permitted at all.

In actuality, Sam Smith Park has become a park with some of the characteristics of a community park as well.  Although mostly used for the quiet enjoyment of its natural surroundings and wildlife, it is used for other purposes too, including dog walking.

Friends of Sam Smith Park will press the City to install “on leash” signs in the southern portion of the park where none exist at present, demand increased enforcement of the off-leash bylaw and urge improvements to the designated off-leash area to foster increased use.

Friends of Sam Smith Park will also move towards setting up our own information sign(s) offering reasons why dogs should be leashed in the park except in the area set aside for that. 

Some thoughts ….
Although there are “dogs must be on leash” signs in the northern part of the park, particularly along the Waterfront Trail, there are none throughout the southern lakefill portion of the park (one at the beginning of the path from the south parking lot).  This prompts some dog walkers to remark that, as there are no signs, it must be OK to let their dog off the leash down there.

Dog walkers say that they rarely, if ever, see bylaw enforcement officers in the park. 

FOSS feels it is important to educate dog walkers about why their dogs should be leashed. (This would be an important part of a three-pronged approach - signage, enforcement, education).  We first thought about coming up with a pamphlet we could give to dog walkers but, when FOSS members have spoken to dog walkers about this problem in the past, they have sometimes been met with hostility. So the idea of educational signage came up. We believe that a simple, clear message would have a beneficial impact on conscientious dog owners.  We researched but could not find any other examples of this kind of sign - maybe it would be a “first” and get used in other parks. 
Dog walkers often say that the designated
off-leash area in Sam Smith needs some improvements in order to make it more welcoming and help alleviate the off-leash issue.  Some suggestions have been shade trees, sand instead of a mud surface, wind protection, large rocks and tree trunks as activity structures, fenced off interior locations for trees and shrubs etc. Please use the comments section at the bottom of this post to give us your improvement suggestions.  We will bring all ideas to the City for consideration.

Friday, October 11, 2013


In early December 2012, representatives from FOSS and CCFEW attended a meeting held at the Gatehouse to discuss a proposal for a community garden in Sam Smith Park.  A report from that meeting can be read on our website.  FOSS members were invited to offer their comments on what was discussed.  Some of those comments were also posted on our website.  

Most people who commented were in agreement with the idea provided the concerns put forward by FOSS and CCFEW were addressed and our recommendations taken in to consideration.  One member did some terrific drawings that conveyed what he would like to see incorporated in to the design.

We were told that applications would be made to Toronto City Parks and TRCA for permits to implement the proposal and that work would hopefully start in Spring 2013.  That turned out not to be the case for reasons unknown to FOSS at this time.

But the idea has resurfaced a year later and the folks behind it are holding a community meeting open to all Ward 6 residents on Thursday evening, October 17th., 2013 to discuss this. Details can be seen on the flyer below.

The community garden(s) will have an impact on the park and it is highly recommended that members attend to get information and to offer feedback.