Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Renegade Builders Test City's Patience

New addition to 'Dirt Camp' is a maze of narrow wooden trestles

Just across from the CN railway tracks near the North Toronto Sewage Treatment Plant is an area known amongst the local biking community as DJs or Dirt Jumps. This is an area where earthen jumps and berms have been constructed. It's a popular place with many users. Just north of DJs is another location known as the Dirt Camp. This area is filled with wooden ramps and jumps which are used by BMX cyclists for stunt riding.

When the Crothers' Woods Trail Management Strategy was released in 2007, these places were designated to be eventually closed down. The city recognizes that there is no real alternative to these facilities nearby so there has been an unspoken agreement that these would be left alone until something else was available. There was also a tacit agreement that these areas would not be expanded.

However, this spring, a whole new section was added to the Dirt Camp that effectively doubled its size. The new area includes an intricate network of skinnies and jumps that would challenge even expert riders. In addition more structures have been added to the original area. While all of these built structures are illegal (the relevant bylaw clauses are 608-7 and 608-14), the city was willing to look the other way for awhile. These new builds appear to have aggravated the situation.

Another view of the new section

The build has sparked a lively discussion amongst the biking community about whether the new build should be kept or removed. This appears to be moot since the city has decided to act according to this letter.

Removing these stunts may be an easy short term fix but it won't affect the long term solution which should be a city managed stunt park that is acceptable to the biking community. Unfortunately, there are people out there who like to build and if this place is torn down it is likely they will just move to some other location.

Original 'Dirt Camp' looks well used

New curvy ramp on top of hill comes to an abrupt end overlooking a steep drop

Ramp ending in a 2m drop is only for the bold and a good stunt bike

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Elevated Wetlands New Coat of Paint

View from Don Valley Parkway

If you've been driving up the DVP this winter you may have noticed some changes at the Elevated Wetlands. On the east side, the pod nearest the highway has been painted with 11 wide purple stripes that go from top to bottom. Some may think this is a new addition to the art installation but indeed it is just another form of graffiti. The painting was completely unauthorized. There is no signature and so far no one has stepped forward claiming responsibility.

Pod up close

While not in the same league as defacing Leonardo da Vinci's David statue, is it vandalism nonetheless. Noel Harding (the artist) would no doubt be less than impressed with this new paint scheme. If you visit the pods up close you can see that the middle pod has been artlessly splashed with paint. The city will eventually repaint it to the original colour. In the meantime, passersby can only wonder as to the new meaning.

Middle pod carelessly splashed with paint on one leg

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sewer Project Blocks Taylor Creek Road

Map of construction area

There is some unusual construction going on at the Forks of the Don. The road that leads to the western Taylor Creek Park parking lot is closed for the month of April. The reason for this is that the road underneath the Don Valley Parkway needs to be lowered to allow for some heavy machinery to access the construction site where they will dig a tunnel for a sewer project.

This particular project is meant to create a bypass around a damaged sewer pipe 60m below the ground that was discovered to be cracked. This pipe carries the sewage for 1/3 of Toronto's residents. If the crack becomes critical and the sewer fails, all the sewage would be diverted into the Don River - a manmade disaster for the Don and the harbour where the polluted water would end up. So repairing the sewer is a critical task. The project involves boring a bypass tunnel around the cracked section. Once the bypass is built the sewage can be rerouted and the damaged section can be drained for inspection. It is hoped that when it is dry it can be repaired.

This is part of a larger project to twin the sewer pipe because right now there is no alternative to the single pipe in use now. It was built in 1958 and it is close to capacity. The entire project (still unfunded) is expected to take another 5-10 years to complete.

Looking east underneath DVP bridge. The Elevated Wetland solar panel tower is on the left.

Looking west underneath bridge. The road has been lowered by about 1.5m.

Construction staging area at south end of parking lot

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Todmorden Mills Cleanup 2010

A small but hardy group picked up litter and garbage at Todmorden Mills

In an April that has seen some unusually warm days, Saturday's chilly wet weather was more to what we are used to. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that only 20 people showed up. Still we picked up a fair bit of litter. I've been attending these events over the past few years (see 2009, 2007, 2006) and I can tell you that there is much less litter than there used to be.

The most interesting piece was part of truck's exhaust pipe which I picked up beside the DVP off-ramp. I lugged the thing back to the building area and put it down. As it hit the ground with a thud, a mouse popped out of the end and sat stunned on the ground. He must have been using the pipe as a home. It didn't take long for him to scurry away. I am sure he found a new home somewhere close by.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Not Dead Yet

Fear not loyal followers. This blog is not yet moribund. Only temporarily quiescent. A combination of school (exams and essays), home renovations, and a house move are distracting me at the moment. I am tempted to visit the valley but I would feel very guilty that I am neglecting some important personal tasks. After April things lighten up considerably so you'll definitely see more content then.