Saturday, August 18, 2018

Preserving A Natural Beach and Shoreline

Grey Abbey Beach, Scarborough Bluffs Shoreline, photo Jen Falvy

Friday August 3, 2018 marked an important deadline for the public to submit comment to the Ministry of the Environment on their concerns about the TRCA Scarborough Waterfront Project. What seemed like a random date in the middle of summer when many people are either on vacation or making plans for the long weekend of summer, may have been carefully planned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. For many, the deadline of August 3 went by unnoticed but for those that have been tirelessly working behind the scenes to preserve this 4 km stretch of natural beach, the date marked a significant turning point and new chapter in our ongoing efforts to preserve the natural heritage of the Scarborough Bluffs Shoreline. 

Our comments and concerns have been submitted to Anne Cameron, Project Manager for the Ministry of the Environment. It is our hope that all of the issues we are concerned with will be carefully considered and when the Environmental Assessment Branch reviews the Environment Assessment Report that the TRCA has submitted, they will realize that the project is not only ill-conceived but environmentally unsound. I would like to clarify that those of us that have been working towards the preservation of the beach and shoreline are not against the waterfront trail but rather we would like to see a trail that celebrates the remarkable natural features of the Scarborough Bluffs rather than alter and destroy them.

We recently heard back from the Ministry of the Environment in acknowledgement of our submissions. While it was clarified that time for public comment is closed, we were pleased to learn that there will be a second opportunity to provide comments during the inspection of the Ministry Review document. This opportunity will be open to all members of the public and will last for 5 weeks. 

Please stay in touch if you would like to remain involved in this process. I will be providing updates to all those that are interested. Over the next couple of weeks I will also share some of the written submissions to give a clearer understanding of what's at stake and why so many people have dedicated so much time towards preserving this beautiful shoreline. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When the Abstract becomes Concrete

Guild Shoreline, Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto

To most people, the concept of habitat loss, nature fragmentation, and environmental degradation are abstract concepts. They are terms we hear and headlines we read. In many ways, they are concepts that as a society, we have collectively agreed to let others deal with, though not because people don't care. 

No one likes the idea of habitat loss and in fact most people are quite disturbed by the concept, its just that no one knows exactly what to do about it. Often we don't know how, or when it is happening. More often that not, it is something we only realize after it has happened and at that point, it is usually too late. 

Well I would like to share with you a situation quite different than what I have just described. Yes, it's about habitat loss and environmental destruction but this is a situation that has not yet taken place. This is a situation that many people, including yourself, will have an opportunity to do something about.

Please take a moment to watch this video.  The problem is real, the solution is simple; see for yourself. 


About the Guild Shoreline - Cause for Concern 

This land along the Guild shoreline is the result of a lakefill project from many years ago. The land is part of a waterfront strategy that was created to build a buffer along the shoreline for the purpose of erosion protection along the bluffs. While it does not directly stop erosion, it does create a place for land to establish itself and to collect over time. Now when the bluffs erode from the top, the land will remain at the bottom, as habitat.

A major benefit to a project like this and one of the primary ways to win the public over is to sell them on the idea of 'creating new habitat' and my concern is around this precise point. 

This land was part of a 'new habitat' scheme. The creation of new habitat was the upside of accepting and allowing for lakefront dredging and the dumping of thousands of tons of construction debris in an otherwise natural and picturesque place. 

Fortunately the land along the Guild shoreline has benefited from the passage of time and through the seasons and over the years, it has been able to re-establish itself as a natural area.  It is now considered a unique ecosystem along the Scarborough Bluffs and it is also a major attraction to people that love and appreciate nature and the outdoors.

Being on the north shore of Lake Ontario, the Scarborough Bluffs have always been part of the migratory path for birds and butterflies but now with additional habitat along the shoreline there are many more animals, large and small, that make this area their home. In addition to the pond being a place for toads and frogs, it is also home to other amphibians and reptiles, and some like the snapping turtle are a species at risk. 

The cause for concern with this section of the Toronto's waterfront is the very habitat that at one time was packaged up and promoted as a benefit to the shoreline is now at risk of being destroyed. Ironically this is all at the hands of a conservation authority. The real kicker here is that the public is being told the very same thing again, that this impending destruction is to create more 'new habitat'. 

The Scarborough shoreline does not need anymore 'new habitat'. It has plenty and its time we leave well enough alone. It is also time we stop destroying natural areas that are home to the wide range of sentient beings that we share this landscape with. 

Abstract concepts are complex and so are issues affecting the natural environment but habitat loss and environmental destruction do not have to be part of the equation. This is your moment to make a difference. I invite you to stand up for nature. 

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has recently spent over $3 million on a public marketing campaign trying to convince the public to accept a waterfront plan that is nothing more that a plan of destruction that puts construction debris in places that were once for nature. Lets make the year 2018 a time for change and hold the Conservation Authority to a higher standard of conservation. 

What can be done?

1. Share this post with your contacts.

2. Write to your local councillor and let them know you want better protection for nature.

3. Contact the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to express your concern for the destruction of the natural habitat along the Scarborough shoreline.