Large crowd tours Hurricane Hazel locations

Cherri Hurst (far right) introduces the walk at the first stop on the tour.
Cherri Hurst (far right) introduces the walk at the first stop on the tour.

Close to 70 people attended last Saturday’s Hurricane Hazel Revisited walk. The guided tour stopped at many of the significant locations that played a part in the October 1954 tragedy that changed the face of Toronto. The walk was well received thanks to an excellent script that was a collaboration between Weston Historical Society members, Cherri Hurst and Mary-Louise Ashbourne. I had the privilege of assisting in the Heritage Toronto walk and the level of interest among attendees was impressive. Hazel’s legacy is our precious park ravine and system; a place to enjoy nature as well as a haven for plant and animal wildlife.

Off-leash area proposed in Weston area

A hard-working, selfless (and startlingly handsome) reporter for a complementary blog uncovered a bit of news that might be of interest to Westonians: the city is considering an off-leash area for Raymore Park. There are no other off-leash areas within the Weston area.

Raymore Park is just over the bridge from Weston Lions Park.

A meeting to discuss the proposal will be held September 22 at 6:30 at Hilltop Middle School.


Atlantic Salmon should reach Weston this weekend

Weston residents wondering what has happened to Humber River salmon this fall will be pleased to know that their arrival is imminent. According to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) workers, the problem has been the antics of downstream wildlife and a recent dry spell.

A big obstacle to migrating fish is the 3 metre tall weir/dam in Raymore Park. A few years ago, a denil fishway (aka fish ladder) was built thus extending the migratory range of several species. Unfortunately, beavers stuff the fishway with wooden debris in the hopes of creating a dam. On Friday, two workers were clearing the way for the salmon and told WestonWeb that as soon as water levels rise, these large Lake Ontario fish will be able to access the ladder. From there they will swim upstream to their birthplace, spawn and return to the lake – assuming they can run the gauntlet of people out to get them.

Workers clear the way for salmon.
Workers clear the upper end of the fish ladder.

In spite of their impressive size, salmon will be seen along the Humber as far as Bolton and Palgrave. For its part, the TRCA is studying the removal of obstacles to fish migration along the Humber and the weir in Raymore Park is definitely one of them. Probably a good thing as the beavers are relentless in their efforts to block the fish ladder.

Fish enter at the bottom left of the weir.
Water levels and beaver permitting, fish enter at the bottom left of the weir.

New development proposed for Wilby Crescent

An application for 10-storey, 131-unit residential building has been submitted to the city. If it all goes ahead, the building will be constructed at 10 Wilby Crescent, currently home to an auto repair shop.

Wilby Crescent runs off of Hickory Tree Road, near Raymore Park.

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.

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.

Huge Ice Dam Blocks Humber River, Endangers Footbridge.

Looking upriver from Raymore footbridge.

It begins just south of Lawrence Avenue, a gigantic barrage of ice piling up and blocking the Humber. Water has been forced to go around the ice and flood Lions Park.
The recent thaw has compounded the blocking of the Humber that occurred in January. Large chunks of ice floated downstream as the river rose last week and they have plugged the channel forcing it to flood its banks. This latest pile of ice begins by the Lions Arena and continues south all the way to the dam and fish ladder in Raymore Park.

Looking downriver

Halfway between the two lies the footbridge connecting Weston to Etobicoke. Normally, the abutments of the old bridge destroyed in the Hurricane Hazel disaster are visible; now they are buried without trace under tonnes of ice. On Saturday, ice was brushing the underside of the bridge and today, the bridge foundations are underwater and in danger of being washed away.

This comparison gives an idea of the depth of the ice blocking the river:

Looking downriver from Lions Park

Here is the almost same view in summer:

Summer view looking downriver.

Looking upriver; notice the normal clearance of the bridge and one of the now buried abutments.

Is the bridge in danger? My guess is that if there is another thaw soon, there will be added pressure on the foundations, not from ice but from water undermining them.

Unfortunately, Thursday’s forecast is for periods of rain and a high of 6°C.