Rowntree Mills Park, one of Toronto’s largest parks, is bisected by the Humber River which flows through en route to Lake Ontario. This unique riverfront park is in Rexdale which is home to 24.4% of GTA’s immigrant population, many of whom live in one of the community’s many highrises.
Adassa is a proud member of her community who, once retired from a customer service role, embraced the opportunity to become more deeply involved in Rexdale.
Early in her retirement, Adassa signed on to become a Walk Leader with Park People’s Walk in the Park program. It was there that Adassa first discovered Rowntree Mills Park, which had been around the corner from her apartment for more than 20 years.
“In Rexdale, most of the events and activities happen indoors, at the community centres, “ Adassa explains, “and I was busy working and raising my kids, so I never really went to the park or knew about the ravine.”
Adassa is wearing the purple hat next to one of her fellow walk leader
Now, Adassa is excited to become an InTO the Ravines Community Champion, helping to spread the word about the ravines in her community so more people know about the incredible gem of a park right in their backyards.
Toronto’s Ravine Strategy, now in the implementation phase, has a focus on helping to share the nature and history of the ravines with Toronto residents:
“Toronto’s ravines provide great opportunities for people to connect with nature and the city’s rich history. We must ensure that people understand and appreciate the value of our ravine system and have physical opportunities to connect with these spaces in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Adassa’s deep connection to the ravines was inspired by Etobicoke Master Gardener Jim Graham who led her group on a series of nature walks. Jim knows the wildlife of the ravines more than anyone and he fervently believes that the ravines are home to the best quality natural spaces in the city. While he’s sometimes frustrated by what he sees as “laziness and apathy” around exploring nature, he relishes the opportunity to share his view on the ravines with anyone who is keen to learn more.
“In a way Covid has been a blessing,” he says. “People are starting to use their local parks more than ever.” Park People’s recent Parks and Covid national survey, shows that 66% of Canadians are visiting local parks more frequently since Covid.
When Jim led Adassa through the ravine, he was able to show her how invasive species are threatening the native species that struggle to grow in the ravines. He showed her native wild raspberries and blooming bloodroot plants that captivated her attention. He also highlighted the encouraging sight of American toads that are an indicator species whose presence shows that the ravines’ water quality is currently very good.
Adassa was amazed: “I love to garden. There are so many types of wildflowers and edible plants in the ravines. I was so surprised.”
While for now, in-person events and activities in the ravines will be very limited, the InTO the Ravines program and a group of 10 InTO the Ravine Community Champions like Adassa will help people feel more connected to nature, and to one another this fall.
To see all of the opportunities to learn more about and celebrate the ravines, see Park People’s ravine events listings. Be sure to check out all that’s planned for InTO The Ravines on the InTO the Ravines web page.
InTO the Ravines, a program in partnership with the City of Toronto