On Wednesday 20th January, The Suzuki Foundation invited a small group (15 of us) to a meeting at the Wychwood Library to discuss the idea of a “flyway” through Cedarvale for butterflies and other creatures. Jode Roberts of the Foundation ran the meeting. Councillor Joe Mihevc and his assistant, Jessica Reeve, were present. There were also representatives from local schools (Leo Baeck and Cedarvale), Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, Green Neighbours 21 and Friends of Cedarvale (me).
Jode opened the meeting by showing a presentation about the Foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project. It started in 2013 and now has 65 rangers, has planted 15,000+ native plants and run 180+ events, including the 26 canoes and the popular “Homegrown Park Crawl”. Jode explained that its initial focus for the “flyway” was the former Garrison Creek watershed. They have now added Cedarvale. The idea would be to plant native trees, shrubs and pollinator gardens in the ravine in order to encourage its use as a corridor by many types of wildlife. He explained that the idea is “symbolic” at this point. They would like to connect with projects that have already been initiated in the area. Michael Wheeler of the Foundation (also Steering Committee member of Friends of Cedarvale) said that one pollinator garden has already been planted near Leo Baeck, with the approval of Diane Tomlin, the park supervisor, and the assistance of volunteers from Play by Nature. I described the three tree and shrub plantings that Friends of Cedarvale has done, in conjunction with Parks staff.
Joe Mihevc said that Cedarvale is the “heart and soul” of Ward 21, running north to south through the core of the ward. He guessed that, on a nice summer weekend, you might find 5% of the ward’s population walking through the park. He mentioned that there are already several “greening” projects under way in the ward, including 6-7 community gardens, a community orchard and the projected large hydro corridor garden project between Christie and Bathurst. He said that his office is “there to help” with projects.
Lauren Sigal, the principal of Leo Baeck, said that they already connect the park to their curriculum. They had wanted to build a community garden in the small park across the road from the school, but had been turned down by the city. They then hired a consultant to build a container garden at the school. They could become involved in another pollinator garden.
Colin Love of TRCA said that this is a great concept. All the resources exist to translate it into reality: it is just a matter of bringing them together. Cedarvale could become an example of what can be achieved.
Many other good ideas were put forward by other participants.
This was a preliminary meeting. Further meetings will be organized, with other organizations present, including: Parks, Forestry and Recreation; LEAF, Not Far From The Tree; JR Wilcox and perhaps other nearby schools; and community organizations. At some point there will be a public meeting to get input from a wide spectrum of the community. It will be interesting to see how this idea develops.