At the Forks
Many of you are reading ‘At The Forks’
for the first time. As it says on our masthead, this is the magazine of
‘Friends of the Don East’. We’ve been working in the community since
1993. And we’ve been growing every year. As we grow, we are able to
distribute more and more issues of ‘At The Forks’ throughout the
watershed. We hope you find it informative and we hope you consider
helping us achieve even more through a membership or donation. Or
simply come to one of our many events and lend a helping hand.
It doesn’t seem possible that we could have more events than we did
last year, but it looks like our Executive Director, James McArthur,
has done it again. You’ll see our Spring Events list near the back of
this issue. On top of the events listed, we are also doing a couple of
private plantings. We’ve also teamed up with Heritage Toronto, the
Toronto Botanical Garden and Ontario Nature among others. You can see
why ‘Friends of the Don East’ has become one of the largest
reforestation organization in the entire city.
There is also very good news on the ‘Board of Directors’ front. We have
three talented and passionate new members bringing fresh new ideas to
the Board. They are Chantal Fortune, Alyssa Diamond and Debbie Supran.
They join myself, John Routh and our treasurer, Alice Panagopoulos. It
should also be noted that Debbie Supran has volunteered to be the Board
With this new talent, 2007 will be a year of exciting growth. Stay up
to date at our website for news about upcoming programs and events. And
as always, if you have an idea on how to make our watershed a better
place, please let us know about it. Although the Don watershed is a
true jewel in the middle of a very busy city, there is always more that
can be done to make it even better.
One last thing; we’ve already set the date for our annual fundraising
dinner (see below). It’s earlier this year because it only makes sense
for us to enjoy a wonderful dinner in the great outdoors on Allen’s
patio. Hope to see you soon at an event.
Every year, we
here at FODE encourage the public and our members to plant native when
landscaping their yards. By gardening with native plants, you can give
nature a helping hand by reducing the need for pesticides and
fertilizers, as local, native plants are well-adapted to local growing
conditions. Its also an opportunity to garden in a way that will help
By using native plants you provide food and shelter that can draw
birds, butterflies or chipmunks to your garden. With native gardening
gaining in popularity every year, more and more retailers are selling
native plants. Look on our website where we will list upcoming native
plant sales as well as garden centres and regional nurseries where you
can purchase native plants.
|Blue Flag Iris
|Red Osier Dogwood
|Eastern White Cedar
Your Creek is What You Eat
The old adage
goes…”You are what you eat”, there’s truth in that… but it doesn’t just
apply to you. Your rivers and creeks are what you eat too! How does
what you buy at the grocery store affect the health of your local
watershed? In two very important ways.
First, when you choose Ontario produce, you also choose how it was
farmed. Many times, conventional fruit and vegetables are sprayed with
pesticides or grown with chemical fertilizers. These chemicals then run
off into ditches, or seep into ground water that helps form your local
river or creek. There is an alternative, you can choose to buy
organic. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are those grown
without the addition of herbicides, pesticides or toxic chemicals. They
taste just the same as your regular fruit and vegetables, except that
the way they were grown ensures less harm to the land and water, both
near the farm, and downstream in big cities. Organically grown fruit
and vegetables do cost a bit more than conventional choices, but they
are worth every penny. They are also more commonly available than ever.
Organic produce is available at Whole Foods, The Big Carrot and many
other specialty stores. However, you can also buy organic at most major
supermarkets, including, Loblaws, Dominion, Sobeys, Longos and even
Wal-Mart! Next time your out shopping please consider this more
environmentally friendly form of food!
There is a second way in which the food you buy affects your local
ravines. Whether you buy locally produced fruit and vegetables. By
buying local produce you enable local farmers to make money, and that
helps them keep the farm going! When farmers are able to stay on
the land, we get beautiful rolling fields of fresh tomatoes, corn and
beans. When farmers can’t make money, we get another subdivision! Urban
sprawl is an aesthetic blight, a cost to taxpayers and harmful to the
environment, as more areas are paved over, more cars pollute the air,
and the food comes from further away to reach your table, often in fuel
guzzling trucks or planes. Local produce can’t always be purchased year
round, but buying local when its available, you can help keep
more areas of Ontario natural and healthy. Local and Organic, two words
to eat by.
In November 2006, the city held public consultations on a management
plan for Crothers' Woods, a beech maple forest in the Lower Don. It is
under a number of stresses including increased trail use by mountain
bikers and dog walkers, a new sewer connection to the North Toronto
Sewage Treatment Plant, and a possible resurrection of Redway Road as a
bus only transit route. The management plan will give the city
guidelines on how to best manage all the competing uses of the area all
the while maintaining the ecological integrity of this valuable
habitat. The report is due to be released this spring.
West Don Lands Flood
If another Hurricane Hazel were to strike Toronto, this area of
downtown Toronto would be under flood threat. This problem is now being
remedied by a two pronged project. The first part is reconfiguring the
Lakeshore Railway bridge that crosses the Don River just north of
Lakeshore Blvd. This will allow an increased flow of water to go
underneath the bridge. This is expected to be completed in July 2007.
The Lower Don Trail will be reopened at this time. The next step is to
build a berm (a type of levee) on the west bank of the river. Once
complete, this will allow revitalization efforts to begin on this long
neglected corner of Toronto. In addition, the new 7.3 hectare “Don
River Park” will grace the banks of the Don River.
Marsh at the Mouth
Work is continuing on the environmental assessment to turn the mouth of
the Don River from the current concrete encased channel to a more
natural river mouth. They are currently looking at reviewing two
options plus a combination. One option would flow straight south ending
at the shipping channel, the other would empty more or less into the
same place in the harbour that it does now. This is a long process
which will continue well into 2008.