Litter in our parks

In Toronto we are lucky to have a park system that is accessible to most residents and contains stretches of astonishingly beautiful scenery. As a person who walks daily in our parks, it never fails to astound me how some people aren’t just careless with our parks, they seem determined to fill them with litter. There is a man who on his way through Raymore and Lions parks regularly drinks then drops a can of Ensure (a dietary supplement) along the way. Apparently he is having trouble with his bowel movements as this version of the supplement contains extra fibre. This man will actually pass a garbage can and wait until he thinks nobody is watching before slinging his trash into the grass. He is not alone. There are all manner of food and beverage containers strewn daily by the lazy, malevolent and careless. There is a picnic table by the Lions Park tennis courts that is surrounded by beer bottle caps and other detritus of drinking parties including human waste if you are foolish enough to venture into the nearby bushes. Then there are the dog owners who pick up after their pet but sling the bag into the bush where it will take forever to decompose. Parks staff and supervisors never seem to be around unfortunately so most often it is left to citizens to remove individual acts of littering or sound the alarm whenever trash builds up in an area (by the stairs leading to Hickory Tree Road for example).

We shouldn’t totally despair. There are angels who will without fuss, pick up litter from the park and carry it to a trash or recycling container. They love the parks and operate on the principle that trash attracts more trash. It has been shown that people are more reluctant to litter a clean area than a dirty one.

We can only hope in this age of service cuts and an anticipated reduction of park maintenance, that people and the City will increase their efforts to protect our parks and keep them beautiful. If you would like to provide input on the way our parks are run, the city would like your opinion through a survey.

TAVIS – Another Viewpoint.

A disturbing incident came to my attention yesterday.

A friend of mine, let’s call him Bruce, is a keen wildlife photographer. Bruce was in Lions Park by the Humber footbridge last Thursday, intent on photographing an elusive heron. Four young men walked by and two of the men got chatting to Bruce and eventually asked him if he would take their photograph and email it to them. As the two and Bruce gathered around the camera to see the image, there was a sudden skidding sound as six police officers on bikes (from the TAVIS program) swooped down and surrounded them. They asked ‘What’s going on?’ and searched one of the young men and his backpack, finding a tiny quantity of marijuana. He was arrested and placed in handcuffs. Meanwhile, the other young man became indignant at this breach of Charter rights and voluntarily stripped to his underwear in frustration and to demonstrate that he had nothing to hide.

The attention then turned to Bruce who was asked by one of the officers ‘What exactly are you photographing?’ Bruce felt intimidated by the officer, the question, and indeed the whole incident – and feared for his own personal safety if he said anything or intervened to protest the treatment of the young man. He had the impression that this was a way of filling an arrest quota. As if the six officers weren’t enough to keep order, a seventh arrived, also on a bike. Bruce beat a hasty retreat.

Apparently, possession of small amounts of marijuana is now treated as a serious crime and no longer regarded as a minor violation. No doubt this will be thrown out of court in two or three years when the judge finally hears of this breach of the young man’s right not to be subjected to arbitrary search and seizure. In the meantime, this charge will hang over the young man’s head.

The headline to this story could have been ‘Armed Gang Intimidates Park Visitors’. Although slightly misleading, it is the absolute truth from the viewpoint of the people involved. Readers might understand the story better with the additional information that the only white people in this incident were on bikes.

What to make of this? Is such behaviour acceptable on the part of police officers? Is this racial profiling? Do we know the whole story? – probably not but the optics are not good. Would young white men have been subjected to this treatment? I doubt it very much.

The TAVIS program, in addition to reducing major crime and increasing safety is designed to enhance public trust and confidence and build relationships. It is hard to see what the harassment of these young men has accomplished other than inducing fear and mistrust.

When I was growing up, a long time ago, police officers walked the beat on their own and built relationships with business owners and people they met along the way every day – not just during a barbecue and photo op. Not being in groups, individual officers could spread far and wide, covering a large area in each shift. Their presence was enough to detect and deter much criminal activity and to be a set  of eyes and ears on the street. Nowadays, such policing is considered old-fashioned and perhaps requires a modicum of courage from the participants that today’s police academy graduates are no longer willing or able to provide. Evidently it’s OK to ask firefighters to put their lives on the line but police officers need to be in a posse in order to feel safe.

As Weston Web has pointed out, crime in Weston is no higher in here than elsewhere in Toronto. We live in a safe community where rates of crime continue to drop. To receive an influx of police officers during the summer was a fabulous opportunity to build bridges and humanize the face of policing. Tragically, incidents like this one destroy any good will that might have been created.

 

Dog Days of Summer: Watering Artificial Turf

Just the ticket to keep cool during this hot summer.

Passers-by were doing double takes the other day as a worker was seen watering the new artificial turf soccer field in Lions Park. The worker said that this is done every so often to keep the playing surface clean, much like scraping and flooding an ice rink. One thing is certain, the new field has been a big hit with players.

Nunziata All Shook Up in Lions Park

Here in Weston we may not have had Will and Kate, but Frances Nunziata sang with ‘Elvis’ yesterday at the July 1st bash in Lion’s Park. How did she compare? Let’s say that she is a gifted politician and leave it at that!

Thank you, thank you very much.

This year for the first time, organizers put up decent fencing to contain the fireworks area thus allowing access to the park via the Humber footbridge. Many people made a day of the occasion, and several food outlets did a brisk trade. The fireworks were spectacular.

Humber River Flood Update

A rainfall warning from Environment Canada has prompted fears that the Humber will flood again today, especially around the Lions Park footbridge where an ice jam is damming the river. Check back to this article for updates and images throughout the day.

8am: the river is rising steadily but below levels reached last week when the Weston access to the bridge was submerged. The ice jam is still in place.

10:30am: a steady rise in the water but no sign of ice movement.

1:00pm: water still rising; ice jam holding.

3:30pm: starting to break up

5:30 Not much to report. Ice is holding in spite of a few false starts.

March 6

The ice moved about 100m past the bridge overnight without incident and water levels are subsiding. It’s amazing (and annoying) how rarely the ice moves during daylight hours. The ice jam now occupies the river at the curve in Raymore Park and continues to flood the land there.

FIFA Standards Come To Weston Lions Park

Panoramic view looking south.

Thanks to two million dollars’ worth of Federal Government infrastructure funds, Weston can now boast of a FIFA standard soccer field in Lions Park. It’s almost complete – there just remains some upgraded lighting and proper fencing to keep stray soccer and baseballs away from each other. Oh and yes, goal posts will be coming too.

Corner
View from the north-east corner.

The pitch is pool-table level. Bulldozers worked for weeks scraping, compressing and flattening the ground. As for the playing surface, gone are the days of hard bristly artificial turf when players would risk abrasions and burns whenever they slid along the ground. This new material is very soft with a layer of shredded rubber between the fibres.

Soft fibres interspersed with rubber make falling more pleasant and safer.

Lastly, you have to get down onto the surface to appreciate how soft and dry it is. The drainage is phenomenal. I was able to kneel without getting wet.

Players are looking forward  to the opening of this world-class facility in spring.

Lions Park Field Update

FIFA head Sepp Blatter has stated that artificial turf may play a large part in the future of soccer. It will certainly play a large part in Weston’s soccer future.

As previously noted in WestonWeb, the soccer field in Lions Park has been under construction since June and is about 40% complete. The two-million-dollar project will see the field covered with Domo Turf, a FIFA approved brand of synthetic turf. The playing surface will be painted with regulation white markings and will be used exclusively for soccer.

Improvements to the site have already been made to provide drainage as the old field was notoriously muddy. Water drained from the pitch will flow directly into the Humber. Players’ benches and goal posts will be added, as well as fencing to separate the softball fields from the soccer field (to stop stray balls). There are no plans as yet to cover the field with a dome in winter.

The turf holds the promise of an extended season for soccer players. There is a similar installation in Cherry Beach that operates right through November although end of season dates are determined by local Parks Staff.

Looking towards Lions' Pool
Lots of heavy equipment
Improved drainage