Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don River Documentary

Rescuing a River, directed by Jeff Fish

I watched a newly posted video on YouTube called Rescuing a River. It is about 12 minutes long so it's divided into two parts to fit YouTube's 8 minute maximum. When I watched it I got a vague impression that I had entered a timewarp. In the video are interviews of Jack Layton, Glenn Harrington and Deborah Martin-Downs all of whom were active with the Don in the early years of the Task Force to Bring Back the Don. Layton for one looked considerably younger (he has hair!). Martin-Downs is now a senior manager with the TRCA. According to Harrington's website, his company has worked on projects similar to the one that created Chester Spring Marsh in 1996. There were also a couple of shots of Don locations that have changed considerably since the time of the shooting this film. After watching it to the end the credits revealed the story - this video was shot in 1990.

The video was a documentary on the river as it was in 1990. It is quite good and it covers most of the problems of the Don River. In short, an urbanized river that is being subjected to increased runoff and water that is polluted and warmer than is natural. Increased turbidity means that dredging at the mouth is still a big issue. Unfortunately, all these issues are still relevant to the Don today.

What the video doesn't show is what has happened in the past 18 years. Layton and Harrington did foresee that wetlands would be created and habitat would be improved in the Don Valley. Harrington led the team that designed and built Chester Springs Marsh which was the first major restoration by Bring Back the Don. Layton talked about an expanded mouth of the Don and that idea is currently under Environmental Assessment.

So, yes, it is an improvement on other video efforts (including my own) but it would be nice to see an updated documentary on the state of the river today.

Rescuing a River, Part II

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