Significance of ravines and cycle paths in Toronto

Toronto is known for its vast network of ravines. As the population continues to soar, so does the recreational use of these natural, public spaces. With the summer season upon us, now is the best time to ride a trail or enjoy a picnic with friends in a local ravine.

The City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) monitor our watershed areas and invest in the most up-to-date measures to protect parkland and floodplains. The effects of climate change are intensifying and require constant monitoring. Watershed refers to the land that catches rainfall and drains it into local bodies of water, including ravines.

All watershed areas in Toronto are considered river watersheds, with the exception of the waterfront area that drains into Lake Ontario. All activities in our parks, whether they are solo or communal in nature, should aim to preserve or improve outdoor spaces. That objective ensures that current and future generations can enjoy what our ravines have to offer, which is a connection to our past, present and future here in our city. 

Throughout history, our ravine network has carved out natural neighbourhood boundary lines. The Humber River, for example, is entrenched in our local ravine network and has inspired parks, trails, and schools to incorporate the name. Humber-River Black Creek is even the name of our electoral district at all levels of government. Black Creek Pioneer Village is named after the Black Creek because of the community that originally settled on the parkland.

Living in a city, it is important to understand the significance of our natural landscape and how it’s shaped the people who live there. Through continued effort and appreciation we can commit ourselves to sustainable, outdoor practices. Our cycle trails, for example, provide a cost-effective, healthy and highly energizing way of connecting with our ravines. 

The Toronto Bicycling Network organizes short Ravine Rides throughout the city, each lasting from 1-3 hours in duration. These routes prioritize cycling through trails in order to avoid busy roads, and they normally incorporate a loop path back to a specific location for coffee and snacks after the ride. All starting points for Ravine Rides are conveniently located near subway stations. Cycling is a great way to exercise and meet people, as well as explore our City’s natural features without causing them any harm.

Some of the most notable trails that run through our community are the Finch West Trail that runs from Antibes to Norfinch along the hydro corridor, the Black Creek Trail that runs from Pioneer Village to Northwood Park along the Black Creek Parkland, and the East Humber Trail that starts from Steeles and runs South to the West Humber Recreational Trail. The East Humber Trail leads south to two connections, both the North Humber Trail and the West Humber Trail. You can visit the City of Toronto’s Cycling Map at: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/cycling-in-toronto/cycling-google-map/ for further information about Toronto’s cycle trails and road routes.

Everyone can benefit from spending more time in our green spaces, whether that be an open park or shaded ravine, biking a trail or photographing the local wildlife. Toronto’s ravines and cycle paths are ours to discover.

Councillor Perruzza’s Motion regarding Imperial Oil Pipeline

Imperial Oil is looking to replace an existing pipeline spanning from North York to Hamilton. This line crosses the Downsview community by running underneath the Hydro corridor. Local City Councillor Anthony Perruzza presented a motion at City Council on May 14, regarding the replacement of the line in order to ensure that there is greater transparency and accountability in the process. This route carries refined oil product between Imperial Oil’s Waterdown Pump Station in Hamilton and the Finch Terminal near Keele and Finch.

Councillor Perruzza brought this construction project to City Council’s attention in order to provide our local government with an opportunity to become more involved in the proceedings. The project has been under the radar so far, but the City can further contribute to the project by demanding better safety measures and by holding all parties accountable. By becoming more informed, Councillors can spread awareness and advise their constituents on the impact of the project as it unfolds.

If the Ontario Energy Board [OEB] accepts the City’s application, then the City will have the right to participate as an intervenor. While construction projects of this nature have tight timeframes, City Staff want to be able to take the necessary steps to speak with experts in the field and seek legal counsel in order to assess the potential risks associated with the replacement of this pipeline. The environmental impact and by extension, the impact on residents needs to be properly addressed and mitigated.

While there is a public consultation set to happen in July, the information for that meeting has not been widely circulated.

City Council approved the motion at its meeting on May 15, meaning that Councillors as a whole want to participate and monitor the situation responsibly.

Please visit City Council’s website for more details about Councillor Perruzza’s motion: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.MM7.17

New bill from Ontario Government gives even more power to developers

By the time you are reading this article, Doug Ford’s Conservatives will have passed yet another bill that will inflict long-term damage on the City of Toronto.

Bill 108 will bring back the planning powers of the OMB over local development, allow developers to threaten endangered species just by paying an extra fee, dramatically weaken heritage protection, and prevent municipalities from using inclusionary zoning bylaws to make sure new developments include affordable homes.

This bill will effectively reduce — and in some cases fully eliminate — community input into local planning decisions. At the same time, it will shortchange new residents, by choking off funding for parks, libraries, community centres, day-care spaces and other services that new neighbourhoods depend on.

The Ford government is giving his developer friends a huge gift, and making everyone else pay for it.

The developer-friendly bill is being rammed through Queen’s Park in less than a month, with only a single day of consultation at committee, giving residents of Ontario little time to respond or fully understand what it will mean.

On May 28, I presented the details of this bill to a packed crowd at St. Roch’s parish, where I was joined by panelists City Councillor Anthony Perruzza, former city councillor and current TRCA Board Member Maria Augimeri and Humber Summit Homeowner Association President Grant Evers. Residents were shocked to hear that the premier would prioritize developer profits over the rights of communities.

The topic on whether a community has say on what is built in their neighbourhood should not be a political one. It is not about right and left; it is about right and wrong.

If you want to help me pressure the conservative government to scrap Bill 108, email me at TRakocevic-CO @ndp.on.ca or call me at 416-743-7272.