Downsview Lands Community Voice Association  

Information forum on Downsview Park for residents and park enthusiasts 

Newsletter 69                                                                                          July 2021       

Damaged tree on William Baker woodlot

Earlier this June a huge limb of the American Elm pictured below separated itself from its main trunk.  This happened on the N/S pedestrian pathway of the William Baker woodlot. 

One report had this incident happening in the middle of the day -- no rainstorm or wind!          

BEFORE: American Elm #668 (arborist report)                                        AFTER

Arborist Heather Schibli (Dougan & Associates) advises:
  • This magnificent tree has a trunk diameter of 1m.  As with all elms it is half way between hardwood and softwood
  • This specimen is unique in that it does not have Dutch Elm disease (samples have been sent to the University of Guelph)
  • Normally most elms have a main trunk with branches at least 10% smaller in diameter.  This tree is most unusual in that it has 3 equal branches emanating from the same point of union, making the crotch where they meet potentially unstable  
  • While the 2 remaining large branches are hale and hearty, the long gash created by the split is susceptible to disease / infestation over the long run.  The opening created cannot be sealed by protective covering (paint).  The bark will not regnerate by itself
Canada Lands will decide its fate in due course.  We will advise.
Locating Steet A in the new William Baker District
In Canada Lands proposed application to build 3985 condos in and around the currently protected William Baker woodlot (25 acres of 62 acre site), Streets A and B play an important role

Both streets are clearly set out in the 2011 Downsview Secondary Plan and by law are required to be 33m or 72' wide (inclusive of road allowance)

However obvious Streets A and B may be on paper, it is hard to get a feel for them on foot, given that significant reforestation has occurred

For this reason Canada Lands (the applicant/developer in the District Plan) sponsored an on-site walkthrough / walk-around of the 25 acre woodlot on July 9

In attendance:
  • Canada Lands head James Cox
  • Two planners from The Planning Partnership
  • Arborist from Dougan & Associates
  • CLC communications team (Swerhun Inc.)
  • Councillor Pasternak and 2 assistants
  • City Planner Ben DiRaimo
  • Toronto Preservation Board (2)
  • Downsview Lands Community Voice (5)
Given the guidelines of the 2011 Secondary Plan, DLCVA has no objection to the route of either street but has strong reservations about inserting any "Built Form" into the parkland between Streets A and B 

Take-aways from the 2021 walking tour:
  • The existing E/W (paved) pedestrian walkways do not accurately identify the proposed path of the two streets.  
  • At Keele, Street B is on more or less vacant land approximately 100' north of the pedestrian walkway.  Opening onto Dovehouse to the west, Street B continues eastward on a relatively straight shot to Sheppard.  On-site inspection seens to indicate that few, if any, trees will be affected by its construction
  • Street A is a different story as undergrowth has obscured the route set out in 2011.  At the walk-through, the applicant's planners initially misidentified where Street A intersects with Keele (opposite the last driveway into the supermarket) -- which error was corrected by the arborist.  On the east side Street A clearly intersects with Sheppard at John Drury St, but starting at its turn south, it runs north of the paved pathway by as much as 100'.  Due to reforestation it took the assembled group about 5 minutes to fathom its trajectory.  Based on casual inspection it appears that a significant number of mature trees will have to be removed or replaced for its construction
As best a lay person can determine (from Table 4 of the Arborist Report submitted with the district plan) 26 mature trees will have to be removed / replaced in the construction of Street A.  

DLCVA has asked to CLC's arborist consultant to confirm this number.

The City's preliminary report bumps the William Baker process into high gear

In its May 31 response to the proposed development, the City has pointed out a number of ways in which it is not in compliance with existing legislation 

Among other things, it identifies the following deficiencies: (the DLCVA agrees with all of them)
  • not enough parkland and open space 
  • changing the zoning of Blocks 2, 4, 5, 14 and 15 from parkland to development
  • insufficient natural heritage protection
  • awkward configuration of Phase 1 (does not include the entire original woodlot)
Read all 28 pages HERE                
For the most part, the process now transitions to a City / Canada Lands disputation, aiming at a mutual reconciliation (if possible)

Local input from residents and park enthusiasts is still requested

Major state-of-the-art TV / film 
production studio planned for Downsview Park

On vacant land East of Barrie GO line and North of soon-to-be-departing Bombardier assembly plant

The Star's David Rider July 2 provides his report HERE 

Builder: Hackman Capital Partners           
Capital Cost: $200M     When implemented:
Phase 1: (2022 - 2024) 500,000 square feet, 1200 employees 
Phase 2: (2024 - 2026) 600,000 square feet, 1350 employees

Councillor James Pasternak: “It’ll help the local economy.  It’s a good investment story.  It’s not heavy manufacturing.  It’s not industrial.  It is soft use, and we’re able to still grow the (Downsview) park with this as one of the surrounding industries.”

The streets of Stanley Greene have not been assumed by the City

On the night of June 24, a car flipped over at the corner of Downsview Park Blvd. and William Duncan Road

Nobody was injured but a light pole was taken out

Residents say speeding has been an issue and a stop sign and speed enforcement has been requested

However this cannot happen just yet

Councillor Pasternak advises that road is still under federal jurisdiction (i.e. still part of Downsview Park) and that the City's hands are tied until the lands are transferred to municipal jurisdiction

Estimated to happen in a year

                                                            Downsview Park News

Canada Lands manager Neil Jones advises that newly installed park counters recently tallied some 4000 visits (some doubling up) to the top of the Mound on a single day
To do selfies in the Muskoka chairs ?? 

Park officials advise that BBQs and hibachis are permitted in the Park (not near the trees though), but that open fires are not allowed.

On Friday June 18, MP Ya'ara Saks advised the Toronto Hate Crimes Unit of anti-semetic graffiti on Park chairs after photos started circulating on social media

Federal Minister of Public Services Anita Anand visits Downsview Park and William Baker woodlot July 23

This private fact-finding meeting arranged by local MP Ya'ara Saks

After a tour of the entire Downsview site with CLC personnel, Ya'ara Saks monitored a half hour Q and A session between the minister and DLCVA (J Casciato and P O'Neill) and York Centre Seniors (R Camarra)

The CLC only intervened when requested

A large vote of thanks for this overdue visit is due to both MP Saks and Minister Anand

Recently spotted at Downsview Park  

Unexpectedly, on May 8 of this year, a breeding pair of
Sora were discovered by M Krol at the small pond near Barrie GO line

This small waterbird is attracted to marshy wetlands and will nest in the rushes and undergrowth

When frightened, it will seek to avoid contact by fleeing on foot like a chicken, before taking flight.         
Photo: R Walsh, 26 May

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