Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Opportunities for Restoration

The City of Toronto is currently undertaking the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormwater Management Facilities Study Class Environmental Assessment.  The study is looking at the possibility of consolidating the thirty outfalls that currently discharge stormwater directly to Lake Ontario, and to improve water quality by implementing stormwater management facilities.

As part of this study the City of Toronto should look closely at opportunities that both enhance and restore these creeks while at the same time addressing the issues of water quality and quantity that are the goals of the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormwater Management Facilities Study Class Environmental Assessment.  Some of the stormwater outfalls that currently flow into Lake Ontario include the historical lost creeks of south Etobicoke that were piped in the early and mid 20th century.  Daylighting these creeks, where possible, can address both water quality and quantity issues and enhance public spaces, as well as providing wildlife habitat.

• Jackson Creek has the most potential for daylighting, as the upper portions are largely above ground. Daylighting of the parts of the creek that flow under the Hospital Grounds and Rotary Park would provide opportunities for deal with water quality and quantity issues as well as enhancing public spaces and providing wildlife habitat.  At a design charette for Rotary Park held by the City of Toronto on March 6, 2010 there was strong support for the naturalization of the park including the daylighting of the creek through the park. 

• North Creek could be restored through Laburnham Park, and the buried portion of the creek that runs through the Hospital Grounds could be daylighted to enhance the park and provide additional habitat for wildlife.

• Restoring Superior Creek however will be a challenge, as much of its former course is now totally built over. But one definite opportunity exists at the foot of Superior Avenue, where it could be daylighted where it once flowed into Lake Ontario.  A small wetland here could treat the flow before it enters Lake Ontario.

The City of Toronto should work closely with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to undertake a thorough analysis of the historic lost creeks of south Etobicoke and look at opportunities for restoration and enhancement that can also address the goals identified in the Etobicoke Waterfront Stormwater Management Facilities Study.

As part of its submission to this study the Friends of Sam Smith (FOSS) have suggested daylighting Jackson Creek and supplementing the flow of North Creek.  These comments have also been echoed by the Citizens Concerned About the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW) in their submission.

There was a meeting with city staff on December 13, 2010 to discuss the results of the study.  FOSS, CCFEW and others were shocked to discover that city staff and their consultants "showed a totally engineered design as the first choice on their short list!"  This despite that fact that "natural" solutions had the highest ranking after public consultation.  You can read about the city's disappointing conclusions here