Take a walk through the Yellow Creek basin with Rob Spindler, of the Moore Park Residents’ Association, and John Bossons, of the Summerhill Residents’ Association, and they’ll give you a crash course in extreme erosion taking place right in their back yards.
The groups hope to raise awareness of the wasting away of their hiking trails through an online petition and Facebook page. Along with residents group in Deer Park and Rosedale, they’re asking the city to remediate the tributary and help slow down its decline.
“It’s really deteriorating quite dramatically,” Spindler said of Yellow Creek. “I always assumed, like most people, that the city would take care of it.”
But in the last five years both Spindler and Bossons have noticed a sharp deterioration of hiking trails, gabion walls, granite blocks and trees due to storm surges.
Most of the time, waterflow is manageable with an estimated 45 cubic metres per second passing through the channel. During storms, however, the flow rate can jump to 100 cubic metres per second. That includes runoff from high density areas where trees and grass are not around to absorb rain.
In the 1850s, Yellow Creek was a destination park, with rose bushes and multiple bridges, Bossons said. One of the bridges is now washed away, the path to another has been eroded, and a third still stands.
“Between the bridge and the [Summerhill] railway tracks, there used to be a path but it’s been completely washed out, so now people create new paths,” Bossons added. “It’s bad practice because it erodes the ravine even faster.”
One spot, along the banks, has a city storm sewer broken in three spots because the soil has been swept away from it.
In June 2015, the city hosted a public consultation to help develop a comprehensive ravines strategy. This past June, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, City Planning and Toronto Water along with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority presented a draft of their strategy to the Parks and Recreation Committee. A final proposal is expected by April 2017.
Ward 11 councillor Josh Matlow is hoping the meeting, and the initiative taken by residents will help shape the strategy even further. Matlow met with the five involved residents associations, along with colleague, Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam on July 5.
“I thought the residents came forward with substantive work in front of them that they wanted to show us, to demonstrate the concerns they had about the state of repair of the creek.”
However, a geomorphic study by both Parks and Toronto Water isn’t planned until 2018.
Matlow and Wong-Tam intend to bring a motion forward to have the work done while involving the local residents’ associations.”
Through it all, the residents have been patient, and realize the city is working in limited capacity, and with 10 year budgets.
“The relative city departments are vastly underfunded and under-resourced,” Spindler said. “Getting something done is a challenge to them. They’re all well-intentioned, and they’re very good people, but they just don’t have the resources.”
Seventeen percent of Toronto is ravines. Yellow Creek is highlighted in the city’s ravine strategy as an area of environmental significance.
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