In 1995, journalist Robert Fulford wrote: “Ravines are to Toronto what canals are to Venice, hills are to San Francisco, and the Thames River is to London” – a sentiment that rings especially true in Ward 15. From Wilket Creek and Serena Gundy Park in the north to Crothers Woods in the south, Leaside is at the centre of Don Valley West’s extensive urban forest. In fact, Toronto’s ravine system is one of the largest in the world, spanning over 300 km – more than 30 times the area of New York’s Central Park!
In 2017, the City adopted a comprehensive Ravine Strategy to ensure the continued prosperity of one of our most valuable natural assets. With an estimated value of over $7 billion, our ravines offer tangible benefits such as absorbing air pollutants, capturing dust, ash, and dirt, and efficiently storing rainwater.
Last term, I broadened the Ravine Strategy’s scope by incorporating the internationally-recognized concept of “ecological integrity” to measure the health of ravines. Through a motion at Council, I directed City staff to finalize an implementation plan in collaboration with major research institutions, focusing on strategies to mitigate the threat of invasive species. In January 2020, City Council approved a specific, costed Implementation Plan with tangible measures to protect and enhance Toronto’s ravine network over the next 10 years.
Our 2020 Ravine Strategy includes significant investments to enhance litter collection and invasive species control, along with data-driven plans that will protect, restore, and improve our natural habitats. In Crothers Woods – a 53-hectare forest located just south of Leaside – the City implemented an award-winning Trail Management Strategy that redesigned, repaired, and rerouted more than 10km of multi-use trails. This project has successfully reduced erosion, soil compaction, and tree root damage to help sustain one of our most well-utilized local green spaces.
Using a complex prioritization framework that takes into account factors such as existing ecological value, anticipated population growth, and concentration of environmentally significant areas, the Ravine Strategy has identified 10 Priority Investment Areas (PIAs) to help focus efforts. I’m pleased to advise that two of these PIAs are located in Don Valley West – Sunnybrook Park and the Lower Don River. While there is work planned for all 105 segments of our ravine system, PIAs will guide the City’s approach to implementing the Ravine Strategy.
Save the Date: As a result of the pandemic, this year’s Ward 15 Environment Days were cancelled in the spring. I’m pleased to share that the City will be hosting “mini” Community Environment events this fall. If you’re interested in attending, the one closest to Leaside will be held on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., at Bermondsey Transfer Station – 188 Bermondsey Rd. You can learn more at toronto.ca/environment_days or at jayerobinson.ca.