Access to greenery is Green’s platform

Louis Fliss is running in Don Valley West but wishes it had more places to bike.

The Green Party’s candidate and member of the Toronto Cyclists Union is campaigning for a bicycle trail connecting Flemingdon Park with the Don Valley trail system, as part of his Gateway Greenbelt initiative.

“The Gateway Greenbelt has quite the potential for this community,” Fliss said. “The more affluent communities have easy access into the ravine system, the network that takes you all the way downtown. Thorncliffe and Flemingdon do not.”

His idea is to create an entrance point to the proposed trail beside a ravine located next to 10 Gateway Blvd. In the past, Fliss has organized group clean-up projects in the ravine and successfully lobbied the city to repair an exposed sewer at the site.

The proposed pathway would follow the ravine south to the CN railway tracks where it would then travel west and lead to a section of the established Don Valley trail before turning north and exiting near Don Mills Road.

Fliss pointed out that the proposal would have to gain approval from several jurisdictions as it covers land owned by CN Rail and the federal government, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the City of Toronto.

“It’s complicated but you need a provincial government to do it,” he said. “So this is why I got into politics.”

Fliss said he thinks the idea would improve the health of people living in the community of highrise buildings by giving young and old more access to recreational space.

“They need to gather socially,” he said. “They don’t have private backyards.”

Under Mayor Rob Ford, the city announced it would create more recreational space by building about 100 kilometres of bike trails across the city.

“I’m ready to test him,” Fliss said of the mayor. “I want to see some sincerity on his part.”

Toronto’s manager of cycling infrastructure and programs, Daniel Egan said he is aware of Fliss’ proposal, but would have to look at it further before determining if it is a possibility.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Egan. “I haven’t had the time to examine all of the proposals but if it’s feasible we may go ahead with it.”

However, Ward 26 councillor John Parker has examined the proposition and said he doesn’t think it’s feasible.

“Louis has great enthusiasm for increasing our bike trail system in the Flemingdon area and he’s come forward with a number of ideas,” Parker said. “In each case, that I’m aware of so far, each one of them has come up against physical barriers and financial impediments.”

Parker said that the hill at the entrance to the proposed trail is too steep and would only be of use to those fit enough or brave enough to use it. He cited another trail that was recently built just north of Flemingdon Park, near Wynford Drive and Concorde Place, which also has a steep entrance and cost $2 million to build.

“The pathway in Flemingdon is far steeper than the one in Wynford–Concorde and it would restrict the use of any pathway to very few people,” he said.

“I can’t support the suggestion that taxpayer dollars go towards financing any sort of upgrade to pathway status through there.”

Parker also disagreed with Fliss’ statement about affluent communities having more access to the ravine system than Thorncliffe or Flemingdon. He identified two separate access points to the Don Valley from Thorncliffe Park.

“Each community has its own particular access and each access is limited, but to suggest that somehow Leaside has abundant access that is denied to Thorncliffe is just not supported by the facts,” Parker said. “In fact, from Thorncliffe you can get there on foot and you can drive a car down into the park system.”

Parker did not identify any access point from Flemingdon Park.