Greenery covers ex-bike site

Restoration of claimed burial grounds in High Park area well under way

The southern portion of High Park used illegally by BMX bikers, that some contend is a Native burial site, is well on its way to being fully restored.

Manager of urban forestry Beth McEwen said back in May, planting of trees would begin after leveling the makeshift bike ramps in the area known as Oak Woodland.

Three months later, the planting has proven to be a success.

In October of last year, the Town Crier first reported the illegal bike ramps and how it was affecting a group of Native Canadians who know it as Snake Mound.

In May, many of those Natives from various tribes, camped in the area for nearly a week and with the help of city workers, began leveling the ramps. At the time, McEwen said planting was expected to begin June 15.

According to the City of Toronto’s website, nearly a dozen different shrubs and herbs have been planted at the site, with most of them flourishing. McEwen said she isn’t sure why, but the only one that hasn’t done well is buckwheat.

“It could even just be that the chipmunks have eaten it,” she said in a phone message.

McEwen did note since the addition of new soil and flora, there haven’t been any instances of the BMXers returning, though there has been the occasional bike that has passed through.

A Facebook group called Friends of Snake Mound have been reporting the occasional appearance of BMX bikers, with the most recent being Aug. 14. However, the most recent update, from Aug. 23, indicates the area is on the right path to renewal.

“The rain has left pools of water at the south end of Snake Mound and the plants looked refreshed,” the message read. “Saw no evidence of new bike tracks and a few people strolled by and we chatted with them; all interested and supportive.”

The group also mentions they had planted a white ceremonial sage, but that some of it had been removed from the site, and the rest of it had been destroyed by bicycles riding over it.

Aside from the sage and the buckwheat, the city website lists the shrubs it has planted as alternate-leaved dogwood, round-leaved dogwood, bush honeysuckle, chokecherry, smooth Rose, purple flowering raspberry, beaked hazel and maple leaf viburnum. It also says two herbs, Pennsylvania sedge and upland bentgrass, have also taken root.


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Posted: Sep 13 2011 2:46 pm
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2 thoughts on “Greenery covers ex-bike site

  • September 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm
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    McEwen did note since the addition of new soil and flora, there haven’t been any instances of the BMXers returning, though there has been the occasional bike that has passed through.

    Actually there have been instances of BMXers returning to the site, as there have been bike tracks seen inside the fenced area by those who have been monitoring the site. The Bikers seem to be mostly returning on the weekends when they think that is less likely that the police are monitoring the site. The police have been informed of this several times, and have even been to the site and taken reports of the continued illegal biking. The continued illegal biking has caused some of the plants to be trampled which also led to the disappearance of the ceremonial White Sage that was planted in the late spring by volunteers of Friends of Snake Mound and THPS. The disappearance of the sage is seen as a direct cultural disrespect towards the Native Community, in order to incite more racial tensions between the Native Community and the BMXers illegally using the site and destroying the fragile environment.

    McEwen said she isn’t sure why, but the only one that hasn’t done well is buckwheat. “It could even just be that the chipmunks have eaten it,” she said in a phone message.

    The reason why the buckwheat has not done well is by the cities lack of watering the area which was planted in June.When the hot dry weather occured in July, the cities “regular watering” only occured once a week if that, and it was observed of their watering, that some of the plants never were watered and certain areas were watered, leaving some of the plants only to be watered from the little rain that was received during July and some of August. As a result the seeded plants did not take, and other plants are still showing signs of drought condition of the summer and lack of watering. The plants would be in much better shape if the city would have allowed the volunteers that did most of the work on the site, to do the watering with the pump and the hose that they brought to the site each time they watered. Good thing that we have received some much needed rain recently, because if not, the site would not be as green as it is now.

  • September 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm
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    It’s been a long summer. The area was covered in dust and there was evidence of cycling in the space. The plants were supposed to have been watered by the City, but there was little indication that this has happened. As well, there are now groups of teens/young adults using the space for their gas powered remote control vehicles. This also, as we say, goes against bylaw.

    In other news, there have been numerous snake sightings in the area, as well the squirrels and chipmunks have been active. In the spring, there were a lot of birds on the site. Unfortunately, someone killed at least two sqirrels and a chipmunk and left their remains in a place where they could be found. There is indication that this was a ritual killing.

    The saga continues…

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