Monday, November 27, 2006

Don Videos

Bad poetry? What was I thinking? A quick search of the popular video site YouTube reveals at least two videos where the Don River is featured. The first video entitled "The Don River Project" by three teenagers reveals that talent is not a factor when trying to get published on the internet. The second video called "Old Luke Bootes Sings" is a musical rendition about the 'dirty Don River' although I couldn't detect much about the river itself other than it rhymes with other words.

New pollution source: bad poetry

The Don it seems has a new affliction: bad poetry as this recently uncovered blog attests. Of course poetry is highly subjective, one person's masterpiece might be another's junk. I can only compare this to a previous attempt which Don Watcher sponsored last year: the Don in haiku.

If anyone out there knows of a another (better?) Don poem, I'd be pleased to read it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Glendon Forest Bloggers

It looks like I was a little too quick off the mark yesterday when talking about a new Glendon Forest blog. It turns out there are two blogs, the first one I mentioned yesterday, the Super Glendon Forest Rangers, plus another one I found called A Field Guide to Glendon's Carolinian Forest.

I am not sure if it's the same group but the information and pictures are certainly different. While there is some debate as to whether Glendon can be truly classified as a Carolinian Forest, it is certainly nice to see someone taking an interest in the natural history of the Don Valley.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another Blog for the Don

Map of Glendon Forest (click to enlarge)

During one of my internet sweeps, I came across a new Don weblog called Super Glendon Forest Rangers! It appears to be run by a group of students at York University. Glendon Forest is a medium sized mixed wooded area on the West Don River, between Sunnybrook Park and Glendon Campus, York University. It sports some high quality habitat but is challenged by overuse due to mountain bikers and dog walkers. I wish them all the best and plan to keep an eye on this blog, especially since it is an area I don't get up to very often.

Cut-leaved Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), one of the many wildflowers growing in Glendon Forest

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Researching the Don

Recently I've noticed quite a few hits on this blog from educational institutions. Presumably students are searching for information on the Don or related topics. While it's nice that people are learning about the Don from the Don Watcher blog, I don't pretend to be the best source for information.

If you are doing research on the Don there are a number of sources that I like to use. The best source of course is to actually visit the Don regularly and see what's happening. Since the Don is a big place this isn't alway practicable.

If you looking for planning documents the best place is the Urban Affairs library of the Toronto Public Library. It is located on the first floor at Metro Hall, 55 John St. in downtown Toronto. They have a large collection of material related to the Don. A couple of years ago, I did an inventory of the material and produced an annotated bibliography. It needs updating so don't assume it is comprehensive. However it is extensive. The library has also developed a fact sheet on the Don. It too is out of date.

Another good source for information is the Toronto Archives. I found it useful when doing research on items of historic nature such as my Wikipedia article on the Belt Line Railway. Another source for historic information is the Toronto Harbour Commission archives now maintained by the Toronto Port Authority. I have never been there personally but I have been told it is quite useful especially for information on the lower portion of the river, eg. the Don Improvement Project.

Lastly, a good but sporadic source of information is the agenda and minutes of City Committees. In particular, Economic Development and Parks, Works, Planning and Transportation, and Toronto and East York Community Council. The city posts the agenda about a month before the meeting and the minutes about 3-6 months after the meeting. Over the past year I have posted lists of agenda items that I think are important (search the blog for 'city documents' or 'agenda'). You can do your own searches but I have had limited success with the search facility on the city's website.

I hope this helps anyone writing a paper or for some other research purpose. Like I said, you could reference Don Watcher (how do you cite a weblog?), but it's probably best to go to the source. Happy studies!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crothers' Woods Consultation

A meeting was held tonight at the Todmorden Mills Art Centre to talk about Crothers' Woods. In a room decorated by an amateur art exhibit, about 65 people gathered to discuss ideas for the future of Crothers' Woods. These ideas will be incorporated into a management plan being put together for the city. Once completed the management plan will allow the city to focus on management priorities in the area for at least the next 5-10 years.

The mood at the meeting was one of mostly positive cooperation which bodes well for the future. The audience was a mix of environmentalists and bikers with a few community members thrown in for good measure.

There was also an afternoon session which was invitation only that included representatives of specific stakeholder groups. That meeting featured more focused input. It also featured a rather incoherent rant by a member of the Toronto Field Naturalists. This was unfortunate as they could have provided a good historical context for the area. Still, overall the afternoon session was constructive.

The management plan is being written by a group called The Planning Partnership. They are being assisted on the ecological front by a consulting group called Bird and Hale which performed a botanical inventory of Crothers' Woods.

The plan is for another public meeting to be held in January 2007 that will present the draft plan and the completed plan will be ready by February 2007.

Don Watcher will, of course, be keeping an eye on the process and will update you as things progress.

Crothers' Woods public consultation well attended

Display material at public meeting

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Scenes from Crothers' Woods

As a prelude to the Crothers' Woods Public Meeting, I am posting a few scenes from Crothers' Woods. I took these pictures over the past few years and they highlight some of the flora present as well as the uses that the area gets.

A biker tries a new trail feature in the woods (the treatment plant is in the background)

Hiker's make their way through the woods on a hike with the Toronto Bruce Trail Club

False Solomon's-seal (Smilacina racemosa). This plant produces bright red berries in the fall

Sweet Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) A provincially rare plant makes its home in Crothers' Woods

Fall colours of Crothers' Woods as seen from the Leaside Bridge.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Don River Floods... Yawn

A picture of the river overflowing its banks (not from this week, but one flood is pretty much like the next)

So the media is in a kafuffle about the river flooding. What's the big deal? That's what you get if you build on a floodplain.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Crothers' Woods ESA

Crothers' Woods ESA designation (click to enlarge)

People often ask where Crothers' Woods is in the Don. This means different things to different people but to the TRCA it is a fairly small wooded area extending from the Bayview extension northeast to just beyond Loblaws on Millwood Road.

In 1995 they did a study of the area and based on the quality of the habitat, designated it an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). This designation is a purely scientific one, it has no legal force to changing municipal zoning or affect any other activities. However it is something that many people have latched onto as a way labelling an area to try and protect it. The Task Force has often referred to the Crothers' Woods ESA in its dealings with the city.

Crothers' Woods is designated as ESA 133. It was given the designation based on two points:
  • Criteria #5 – rare/endangered species,
  • Criteria #6 – exceptional high quality and/or diverse habitats and communities
The rare species are two sunflowers and a sedge; the high quality habitat refers to the forest and the diversity of tree species. If the ESA were updated today it would now include Butternut as an endangered species. This tree which grows in Crothers' Woods is fatally threatened by a fungus that attacks it.

If you want to read the full document (it's only 2 pages plus a map) you can find it online here. Reading this document will be good background material if you decide to attend the community meeting on Monday November 20 (see previous post).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Public Consultation on Crothers' Woods



(West side of the Don River,

from Pottery Rd. to the Millwood Bridge)

The City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation is developing a Management Master Plan for the Crothers’ Woods Area.

If you participate in hiking, mountain biking, dog walking, dirt jumping, bird-watching, or other activities in Crothers’ Woods,

we want to hear from you!

Public Meeting

Monday, November 20, 7pm – 9pm, at Todmorden Mills, in the art gallery.

Location: Pottery Road, west of Broadview, east of Bayview

Directions: From the Don Valley Parkway, take the Bayview/Bloor Street exit, then follow Bayview Avenue north to Pottery Road.

By TTC, from the Broadview subway station, take any northbound bus to Pottery Road. It is just a short walk down Pottery Road, in the Don Valley.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Requiem for Jane

Last night was election night and aside from the races where there was no incumbent, there were few surprises. All but one of the incumbents were returned although there were a couple of close races.

As for the mayoral race, David Miller was all but assured re-election. His closest challenger was Jane Pitfield. Jane received 188,932 votes to Dave's 332, 969 votes. While that was more votes than I expected I was not surprised with the end result.

I just want to say a few words on Jane's behalf. The Task Force to Bring Back the Don has 23 citizen members and 3 council members. In the 8 years that I have served with the Task Force, the only council member who has ever showed up to our meetings was Jane. Usually she appeared unannounced and butted her way into our agenda to say her piece then scooted out again, but at least she showed up. She also sent one of her assistants to listen in on our meetings. Having an attentive council member is always a plus.

In addition to her deputations she also helped raise a little bit of money for our yearly expenses with newsletters and other publications.

To our misfortune she took on the rather quixotic task of trying to unseat David Miller. She was much more useful as a councillor and if she had stayed could have served as long as she wanted.

Personally I think she wasn't as good a candidate for mayor as Miller. Whatever naysayers he has, Miller has been a forceful proponent of several environmental issues that the Task Force supports and an advocate for the Don. Much more so than his predecessor (who never once made an appearance at our events).

Regardless, Jane will be missed by us. We can only hope that the next lot of council members will bring us as good an advocate as Jane was.

So if nobody has said it, on behalf of the Don River, thank you, Jane.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Last Planting Successful

Even though it rained heavily early Saturday morning, the weather let up just long enough to plant about 60 things, mostly cedar, sycamore, chokecherry, and sumac. Thanks to James, Jenny, John, Kirsten, Lise, Norah, and Raz for helping out!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Don Watcher gets Published! (sort of...)

Toronto Water Newsletter (click to enlarge)

For a few years now the city has been issuing a newsletter that covers water related issues. Mostly it's information about downspout disconnections and low-flow toilets but occasionally there is an interesting article. I just received the fall 2006 issue and the front page has an article entitled "Improving water quality in Taylor-Massey Creek".

This happens to be an issue that I am very familiar with and I have blogged about this in the past year (here and here). So I read the article with some interest. Upon reading the article I realized that the text sounded familiar. In fact very familiar since many of the phrases and information appears in a Wikipedia article about Taylor-Massey Creek. I know this article intimately... since I wrote most of it.

Other than this blog, one of my other literary interests is writing articles on Wikipedia. Using the editor pseudonym Atrian, I have written several articles and edited many others. In addition to the Taylor-Massey Creek article, I have written or expanded on Don Valley related articles such as Charles Sauriol, Todmorden Mills, the Belt Line Railway, Friends of the Don East, and the Task Force to Bring Back the Don. I am currently working on expanding the article on the Don Valley Brick Works and hope to create an article on Crothers' Woods.

Even though the article doesn't reference the Wikipedia source it's obvious where they got the information. Although reworded, the phrases are almost exactly what is used in Wikipedia. It gives me some enjoyment in the knowledge that some of my efforts have borne fruit. I can also shamelessly brag about it here!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Last Planting of the Season

The pond at Beechwood Wetland

My community stewardship site this year was at the Beechwood Wetland. We spent most of the summer removing invasive plants such as Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). We cut down some Glossy Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and we had the city come and remove some larger specimens of Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and Manitoba Maple (Acer Negundo). They also treated remnant patches of Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).

The result is that there are quite a few gaps in the site. Rather than have them infiltrated by more invasives next year, I asked the city if they could spare some trees and shrubs for the site. They have been busy up until now but I finally managed to schedule a planting for this Saturday, Nov. 11 from 10AM to 12 noon. The site is on the lower Don Trail about 800m north of Pottery Road. There is street access via Beechwood Drive. Park your car beside the road just on the west side of the DVP near the police dog facility.

Location Map (click to enlarge)

We have about 4 or 5 people committed but it would be nice to have more. If you are free this Saturday I would appreciate any help. As an incentive I will give anyone who comes out a loonie. All you have to do is answer this question, "What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?" (You also have to plant at least one tree).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beaver Update: Gone to Hospital

Another reason why dogs should be banned from the Brick Works Quarry area. The beaver that I spotted a couple of weeks ago wasn't moving very well for a reason. It had been severely injured by a dog bite on its tail.

Animal services came and removed it and hopefully will a) nurse it back to health and b) find it a good home. The Brick Works is currently too inhospitable.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Benefit Concert for Bring Back the Don, November 12

A group called “Hearts Open Toronto” is hosting a benefit concert for Bring Back the Don on Sunday, November 12th, upstairs at the Rivoli on Queen Street West. Danny Marks, a well-known Toronto blues musician (and one of the CBC’s “Hum Line” trio) chose BBTD as the beneficiary of his concert. Doors open at 7pm. It should be a great concert and we all know it’s a great cause so please join us! Tickets are $10 at the door, $5 for students. (It'll be over by 11pm, I promise!)
Also, we'll have fabulous Bring Back the Don T-shirts on sale!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Last Word on Seed Pod

OK, I just received a message from a local arborist who says that the unusual seed pod that I blogged about here and here is actually a Turkish Hazel or Turkish Filbert Tree (Corylus colurna). He also said that the trees maybe infested by a bug causing the unusual involucres but Wikipedia claims they are a natural morphological trait. It looks like we've found our mystery tree.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Another Trail Closure

Ever since the Lower Don trail was closed south of Queen, I haven't been using the trail very much. So I was surprised to find that the trail was blocked by a fence. The sign says its been closed at least a month, although I don't recall when I was down here last... it doesn't seem that long.

Anyways, the reason for the closure is that stairs coming down from the Queen Street bridge have been closed. They are doing some sort of restoration work on the bridge - my guess would be rust-proofing since it's made of iron.

Although the trail is supposed to be closed, you can still sneak by. There are a couple of openings in the fence where you can exit before you get to Queen, although they all lead you to a crossing of the railroad tracks which I don't recommend. Not only illegal but dangerous. If you do, look both ways and then scoot quickly. According to the sign, the construction should be finished sometime in December.

Fence placed across Lower Don Trail at Riverdale Park Bridge

Queen Street stairs closed

Lung Cancer Tree Grove

Lung Cancer Tree Grove

I was passing through E.T. Seton Park on the West Don this week when I noticed this memorial placed beside the path. Sponsored by Lung Cancer Canada, Toronto Parks has planted a circle of Silver Maple trees which surrounds a place to sit on rocks. In 30 years it should be a quiet place of contemplation but today it just looks out of place.

I suppose as long as the city is short on cash, things like this will popup in public places all over the city. Not sure I like the direction the city is taking on this but as long as they stick to the grass areas, we're ahead by seven trees.

Stone Marker