A flash mob descended on an East York site on Saturday morning, but rather than being performers they were ecologically minded community volunteers — and they left behind not a surprised audience but 120 new trees and shrubs.
In less than an hour, the plants were installed in a corner of Taylor Creek Park alongside Victoria Park Avenue.
The event was scheduled to take place over two hours starting at 10 a.m. but so many volunteers showed up that by 10:45 a.m. it was all done, with some more volunteers still arriving to help.
“It’s a great turnout,” said Cheryl Post, an employee of the city’s forestry department that organized the planting with the Friends of the Don East.
Her department plants more than 15,000 trees and shrubs across the city each year with the help of the community, she said.
This site was chosen for the latest naturalization project because it’s one of the few areas left near Taylor Creek where they could “extend the forest edge into a previously mown area and get some habitat diversity in there,” Post said.
James McArthur, lead volunteer with Friends of the Don East, said they were planting native species, including white pine, ninebark, nannyberry, burr oaks and dogwood.
His group considers this work of vital importance, he said. “It’s important to create habitat for wild life, and it’s important to meet the city’s tree canopy goals, which involve helping to combat climate change by increasing the amount of shaded area within the city.”
It also creates resilience to floods because the plants will take up a lot more water than the grass would, helping prevent flooding and sewer overflow, he said.
“One small project is nothing — we’re not talking huge numbers —but when you do these projects cumulatively, you’re talking about taking hundreds of thousands of litres of water out.”