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Citizens of Heathercrest Park

About Ourselves -- ‘The Creek and the Canopy, Citizens of Heathercrest Park’

Our neighbourhood pulled together in 2009 to save Heathercrest Park, an irreplaceable community green space and tableland connected to the Mimico Creek flood plain by drainage and corridor features. A forest containing a mature and regenerating woodlot deemed worthy of preservation by the City of Toronto’s Urban Forester by virtue of an abundance of large heritage and Carolinian trees that are vigorously regenerating, attracting an abundance of wildlife; and a community-funded playscape. A community greenspace for over 50 years, this parcel of heritage farmland was owned by the TDSB, enmeshed in that agency’s financial woes and resultant surplus land dealings. The property’s preservation should have been a slam dunk based on breathless prose in the environmental policies of all levels of government, including that of the TDSB who instead looked to convert this green space into grey space. Our community stood up, engaged, and worked to ensure that this property was preserved.

Briefly --
Fall 2009 - A community effort, that in less than two weeks:
@45 neighbours meet with our councilor
@80 more met in the park that evening for an update
@200 at the meeting called by the school board to present the board’s plan
@where a petition with over 750 names presented.

What Worked/Didn't Work?
@“We can, we want to, we will – because it makes sense”
@In it for the right reasons
@Non-hierarchical
@Distribute/assume responsibilities and let people run with it
@Not anti-anything. Rather quality of life
@Engage
@Media – social and conventional

And this encapsulates our community effort - 10 years ago - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvNqRxEeddI

Our rapport with the TRCA and Toronto Forestry continues and our group and what we do, has evolved. Events, to date, have focussed around Heathercrest Park, West Deane Park and Mimico Creek, with:

@Tree plantings
@Heritage tree designation
@Bird box building
@Shoreline cleanups
@Walking tours

And in the past 10 years our efforts and organizations we have touched, assisted and collaborated-with include, in no order of priority:

@Ecoschools programs of local schools - 2 high schools, 6 local grade schools, and Montessori schools in the neighbourhood.
@Earth Rangers - tree plantings.
@Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, which includes the
#Vancouver Aquarium and
#World Wildlife Fund Canada - https://www.shorelinecleanup.ca/.
@Water Rangers - see page 7 - https://waterrangers.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/testkits-LUSH-2018.pdf.
@Boy Scouts - 433 Toronto Scout Group.
@Ontario Urban Forestry Council - http://www.oufc.org/
@Etobicoke Historical Society.
@Forests Ontario.
@University of Toronto, Faculty of Forestry - efforts include
#community strategy development,
#'Rewilding' and Toronto's Ravines,
#Neighbourwoods (http://neighbourwoods.org/), and
#the Capstone Presentation Program.
@University of Toronto, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences - and the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (https://ontariowater.ca/).
@Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Living City Foundation - community tree planting, invasive species education and eradication, local school student involvement and fundraising.
@Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
@Partners in Project Green.
@North Face
@Similar community efforts such as:
#Trinity-Bellwoods
#Harbord
#Don Mills
#Long Branch
#a community effort on Lake Simcoe.
@Nature Conservancy of Canada
@Royal Ontario Museum.
@LEAF - Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests .
@Toronto Field Naturalists.
@Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation .
@Ministry of Natural Resources, Water Quality Program.
@Wild Birds Unlimited.
@Terrafix Environmental Technology.
@Falcon Environmental Services
@PhD Candidates in the Heathercrest zone
#Justin Gaudon, pursuing PhD at UofT, forest entomology...primary focus on combating the highly invasive emerald ash borer via biological control using insect parasitoids
#Ben Plumb, PhD Candidate, Whitewater Ontario's River Advocacy Committee, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, U of Waterloo, Urban River Dynamics, Morphology, and Restoration

Other relevant details (if the urls are still good):
@https://www.toronto.com/news-story/1311201-dig-deep-for-the-future-health-of-heathercrest-park/
@http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/733367--school-s-park-paradise-should-be-given-to-city
@https://www.toronto.com/news-story/45560-lease-land-swap-options-to-park-sale/
@http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/moira_macdonald/2009/11/25/11915416-sun.html
@https://www.toronto.com/opinion-story/54365-reader-thanks-conservation-authority/
@https://www.toronto.com/news-story/50124-park-s-marsh-could-be-its-saving-grace/
@http://www.insidetoronto.com/community/education/article/847322--conservation-authority-saves-park
@https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9doNvVkOxY

Lastly, we'd like to thank Mr. Peck of the ROM for what seems to be our overall supporting rationale.
"While the information age has certainly changed the
way we learn and communicate, it should not be used
as an excuse for keeping us or our children indoors.
Our health and the health of the planet are inseparably
linked. The information technology world may be
providing us with different entertainment options, but it is
also giving us greater freedom to explore the planet.

Children, especially those from urban environments,
need to experience the outdoor world, get their toes wet in
a cattail marsh, explore a woodlot in the spring, and fall asleep
outside looking at a sky filled with stars."
M. Peck, ROM

In closing, on June 20th we would like to celebrate the first 10 years of accomplishments with all who we have touched, all who have helped us, and those who may work with us to cultivate a brighter and healthier future.

Thanks

Parks we work in:

  • Heathercrest Park, Toronto
  • West Deane Park
  • Mimico Creek

Things we do:

  • advocacy
  • cleanups
  • environmental education
  • invasive species removal
  • tree inventory
  • tree planting
  • waterkeepers (river/stream)

We're looking for volunteers in these areas:

  • Regular volunteers
  • Occasional volunteers

Where you can find us

  • 13 Storey Crescent, Etobicoke, ON M9B 3C7, Canada

Get in touch!