Spring 2003
At the Forks

Vol. 10, Issue 1  


FODE Launches Tenth Year
with New Website and Events Calendar

To launch our tenth year, to be celebrated at our November annual general meeting, FODE is pleased both to announce the creation of our new website with a new url, www.fode.ca, and to provide a calendar of spring and summer events on the back page. It's been a fantastic ten years and we thank all our members, supporters, and partners.

Ten years ago, FODE became one of the first community-directed, watershed-based non-profit organizations to be established in Toronto. From humble beginnings lead by founding co-chairs Steve Peck and Paula Davies, last year we delivered 15 public education and community engagement activities involving over 600 people who donated more than 3,000 hours of volunteer time for the protection and regeneration of the Don watershed, including walks, talks, clean-ups, plantings, Another Yard for the Don, and the new Trees Count program.

We were also active recently in work to secure the designation of Crothers Woods as an ESA and in opposing the Leslie Street extension, the first Redway Road proposal, and the first proposal to expand the Don Valley Parkway.

The big question is - What's next?

In the broadest scale, we are moving from a focus on single issues to broader societal ones based on the need to establish healthy and sustainable communities. So mark your calendars now for the April 23 discussion on Neighbourhood Strategies to Protect the Urban Canopy and the May 21 meeting on the Pesticide Bylaw, Organic Gardening and Integrated Pest Management. More specifically, we have developed a preliminary schedule of 15 events, as listed on the back page, and we are already working to develop several new or revised programs, including Take a Hike and DonWatchers, as described on the website. We are also currently developing positions on or programs that relate to Smart Growth, the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan, and the Don Valley Corridor Transportation Master Plan.

How will we succeed?

Only with the on-going support and participation of you - our members, supporters, and partners. And only if our programs attract meaningful participation. If you think living in a healthy and sustainable community is a valuable goal, come on out, meet some new friends, have some fun, learn lots, join FODE, and help us protect the urban canopy, aquatic areas, and the quality of life in Toronto. For ourselves and future generations.


In Search of the Wild Path
by Jurgen Braunohler

When I was asked to hike through Pine Hills Cemetery as a lead-up to our May 25th walk there, I jumped at the chance. I love exploring, even a muddy tramp through melting snow. And I discovered that Pine Hills is one of those hidden city gems that awaits discovery by those who normally never go to cemeteries. It is a large and well-treed area not far from Warden Woods where the Don Valley's greatest conservationist, the late Charles Sauriol, first camped as a boy scout.

I started at the Visitor Centre, where we'll start May 25, and walked southeast. After crossing the last internal roadway, I headed just to the left of a solitary white birch tree and downhill to the river, mindful of the rows of flat slabs in the grass. They are grave markers, not stepping-stones. A cluster of outfalls fills a small pool that empties into the watercourse, Taylor Massey Creek, which disappears to the east under Birchmount and St. Clair Ave on its way to Warden Woods. But you are headed the opposite way, in search of the wild path.

At the first traffic bridge, cross the road but not the bridge, and head past a small rain shelter and downhill. A dirt path suddenly forms, and ahead lies another world of greenery and birches. At the time of my hike, it was a world also of barren grey trunks amid the conifers and patches of snow. I heard the chirpings of the first birds. A wooden footbridge crosses the river, and the path follows the east bank of the watercourse to a second traffic bridge that must be crossed to the river's left bank. Follow the handrails downhill to find the trail once again close by the water.

The creek snakes between meadows with an assortment of vegetation, to the delight of those who venture through to the end of this ravine. My reward was to mush through meltwater trapped in the reeds, held back in nature's way to seep slowly into the river instead of sluicing off. To the left of the big boulder at the end is a crude and nearly hidden staircase of wooden beams leading through brush. It's the only way out, if the brush doesn't become too thick to penetrate in warmer weather.

At the north-east corner of the property, hikers get a choice. The north-bound trail leads out of the cemetery to Foxridge Drive at Kennedy Road. If you cross Foxridge, there is more trail that can be explored north to Eglinton. The other path turns westward into a wilderness, but look carefully to find it. Here one hears no traffic, and spring run-off leaves large pools of water. Watch for a blooming panorama of plant life, before heading uphill a short way into a forest and a change of scenery.

Join us at the Reception Center at 9:00 on Sunday May 25 for an exciting walk to be lead by Jack Radecki, Head Forester of Pine Hills Cemetery. Pedestrian access via the south west corner at St Clair and Birchmount and the north-east near Kennedy and Foxridge. Vehicular access off Birchmont north of St Clair. Gates open until 8 pm during daylight savings time. Reception Center has maps and a washroom but closes at 5 pm.


Another Yard for the Don gears up
By Erica Wilson

We all gathered on a snowy November evening at Todmorden Mills Museum to congratulate and reward the best ecological gardeners in the Don Watershed.

Representatives from the Jackman Millenium Garden accept their award at the November Ceremony.

This year the program received a number of nominations from schools, churches and other institutions in the Don Watershed. Recognizing that these groups have a very special and important role to play in educating and spreading the word about ecological gardening, and recognizing that it is difficult to compare the work being done by schools, churches and other institutions to residential yards, the judging committee added a category of awards for Community Groups and Institutional Gardens. We will continue to accept nominations for this category in 2003.

We were also pleased that Siri and Lutz Luckow received 2nd place in theenvironmental category of the City of Toronto garden contest which is held city wide every year to award gardeners in the residential, institutional and environmental categories. Another Yard for the Don submits our best garden to be included in the environmental category of the City Wide Garden contest.

Our Thanks

The Another Yard for the Don Program would like to thank our volunteers for their help with judging, publicizing the program, helping with media events and garden tours.

Our thanks to Tom Atkinson, Grif Cunningham, Juliette Del Junco, The Newel Family, Peggie Sampson, the Sheedy Family & Tom Stevens. Councillor Jane Pitfiled, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong and MPP Michael Prue served as Honorary Judges.

If you are interested in judging, offering your garden for our garden tour, helping with media, publicity or to talk about other opportunities in 2003, please contact Erica at 416 466 9153 or erica@fode.ca.

2002 Another Yard for the Don Winners

Irene De Clute
Siri & Lutz Luckow
Ian Malcolm
Mireille Messier & Ian Partridge
Bill Sipprell
Marilyn & Denis Freeman
Ruth & Dan Irwin
Karen Whitehorn
Heather Wright
First Year Garden
Ian Anderson
Angelo Babaris
Carla Boudot
Deborah Chute
Patricia Draves
Barbara Hall
Sarah Ives
Calla Janes
Beatrix & John Krug
Michael Laven
Carol Ramm
Honourary Mention
Dennis Martin
(This was a special award this year. Mr Martin has done an amazing job with his yard, which backs on to a ravine that is part of the Rouge watershed. Even though it is not 'Another Yard for the Don', we wanted to reward his efforts.)
Community Groups and Institutional Gardens:
Jackman Millenium Garden
Lindenwood Greening Group
First Year Garden
Christian Community Church


What is Another Yard for the Don?

Every time it rains, stormwater run-off can carry spilled or misapplied chemicals — including pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and automotive or industrial chemicals — into local creeks and lakes, harming plant and animal life before continuing toward Lake Ontario, the source of most local drinking water.

In addition, water flowing from rooftops into downspouts that are connected to storm drains moves rapidly into local watercourses, creating storm flows that can cause erosion and damage fish habitat.

It doesn't have to be this way.

That's why FODE established the Another Yard for the Don Program: to promote environmentally-friendly water-management and gardening practices, and to recognize efforts to improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and/or increase native plants.

What can I do to help the Don watershed?

Water management:

  • Disconnect downspouts discharging directly into storm sewers
  • Install a rain barrel or create a pond or swale for downspout water
  • For lawns: mow high, aerate, and plant drought-tolerant grass seed
  • If you have to water your lawn, water in the early morning
  • Consider drip irrigation or other low-volume methods of watering, and
  • Plant low-water varieties of plants

Habitat management:

  • Practice organic gardening, avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other chemicals for cosmetic purposes
  • Plant native varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants
  • Reduce areas that need to be mowed and/or watered. Consider groundcovers, wildflower meadows, and other plants
  • Recycle household waste into valuable compost
  • Create and provide bird, butterfly, and other animal habitat with trees, berry-bearing bushes, bird feeders, and bird-baths
  • Use landscaping or lawn care services only if they adhere to professional Integrated Pest Management certification protocols
  • Develop and share your own brilliant eco-gardening tip with FODE

How do I participate?

We have awards for those just starting to make their yards more environmentally responsible as well as for those who have been improving the ecology of their properties for many years. Just fill out the nomination form for yourself or a neighbour. We will call you for more information or to arrange a time for your garden to be visited by one of our judges. All winners will be invited to an Awards Ceremony in November.


Take a Bite out of West Nile
by Erica Wilson

Mosquitoes are one of those insects that are often an annoyance. They can ruin a lovely, relaxing stretch on your patio by buzzing in your ears and leaving you with uncomfortable, itchy bumps. At these times, it's hard to remember that these little creatures are important in the Toronto ecosystem, as they are a part of the diet of species such as bats, birds and fish.

A more uncomfortable issue surrounding mosquitoes is of course the West Nile virus, which has recently appeared in our area. Luckily, it is relatively hard to get. Less than one per cent of all mosquitoes become infected and less than one percent of people bitten by the infected mosquitoes suffer from serious health effects (Canadian Health Network). As the City contemplates the prospect of using larvicides as one method to control the West Nile virus, it is important to remember that everyone can help by eliminating stagnant standing water, the prime breeding ground for these mosquitoes.

Here are some practical things you can do:

Riversides provides these rainbarrels to homeowners. Check their website at www.riversides.org/

  • Eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days.

  • Make sure to empty standing water from recycling bins, flowerpot saucers, old tires, wheelbarrows, buckets, garbage bins and wading pools. If they must be left in the yard, turn them over so they do not collect water.

  • Keep gutters and eave troughs free of leaves and other debris so that water drains quickly and easily.

  • Clean and replenish bird baths and your pet's water dishes every other day

  • Empty your rain barrel if it is more than a week old or cover it to keep mosquitoes out. You might also consider disconnecting your downspout and letting the run off soak into your garden.

  • If you have a pond or water feature on your property, consider including a pump to keep the water flowing or add fish to eat the larvae.


Green Garden Visit will get you on the path
to a healthy yard

Guest article by Andrew Roy

North Toronto Green Community's (NTGC) Green Garden Visit (GGV) is proud to support Friends of the Don East in their goals to promote healthy yard practices in the Don Watershed. While FODE emphasizes awards to encourage positive behaviour change; the Green Garden Visit offers fee-for- service yard consultations, support and services to homeowners, which would benefit those who wish to know where to start or are looking for input at any stage of gardening in how to achieve the ecological yard of their dreams. The combination of these approaches of awards, consultation and community support, are instrumental in achieving a shift in norms that will transform the landscapes and watersheds we inhabit.

About the Green Garden Visit

The Green Garden Visit works with clients' needs and wants and identifies garden opportunities that have multiple ecological, economic and aesthetic benefits.

Examples of recommendations include native and edible tree, shrub and herbaceous species that serve multiple purposes - look beautiful, reduce ecological footprint and reduce the time and resources necessary to maintain healthy yards. The GGV also provides a kit customized to the interest of the client with information about existing projects, products and services that will assist the homeowner in implementing the recommendations provided at the visit.

Other offerings of the Green Garden Visit include: ecosystem design with native trees and plants; edible landscape design with heritage vegetables and herbs; and organic lawn care or lawn replacement support.

The Green Garden Visit will nominate eligible yards to the Another Yard for the Don Awards Program NTGC looks forward to working with Friends of the Don East to bring greening to communities in Toronto's watersheds.

Andrew Roy coordinates the Green Garden Visit with the North Toronto Green Community which is one of our program partners.

For more information or to sign up for a Green Garden Visit, call 416 781 7663 or visit their website at www.greengardenvisit.ca.


Other Updates

Burke Brooke

FODE continues to research how the possible re-development of lands above Burke Brook may impact the creek. See the section on Issues / Smart Growth and Burke Brook at www.fode.ca. We also hope to have a walk in Burke Brook in the fall.

Wet Weather Flow Master Plan and Taylor Massey Creek

Thirty-eight people braved one of the coldest nights of the winter to attend the public meeting on Feb 23 and hear about the City's 25 year/ $1 Billion wet weather flow master plan and how it might address water quality and quantity problems in Taylor Massey, as well as to hear about regeneration plans for the lower 4 kilometres of the Creek, from Victoria Park to the Forks. For information on the Wet Weather plan, see the last section of Links at www.fode.ca

Don Valley Corridor Transportation Master Plan

Over the years, FODE has opposed the proposed extension of Leslie Street, the first proposal to extend Redway Road, and the first proposal to expand the DVP itself while consistently calling for natural heritage protection, community-based planning, and improved mass transit. We shared that message at a public meeting held April 3 to discuss the new Don Valley Corridor Transportation Master Plan (DVCTMP), as well as our willingness to retain an open mind to elements of the DVCTMP that could offer significant improvements toward the evolution of Toronto as a more healthy and sustainable city based with improvements for mass transit, greenhouse gas reduction, and urban air quality. Information on the DVCTMP exercise can be seen at http://www.toronto.ca/planning/dvp.htm.


FODE is a membership-based non-profit organization working to protect and enhance the Don River and to encourage the establishment of healthy and sustainable communities within the central and eastern portions of the Don watershed, Toronto, Ontario. © 2004