By Nicole Czorny
Toronto has more than 200 kilometres of recreational trails that wind their way through the city and along the Don River. Yet despite this extensive network of trails, there still remains significant gaps and limited access points. But things are changing.
In the summer of 2011, the City of Toronto looked at existing major multi-use trails and the possibility of new trail connections. Approved by city council a year later, the Bikeway Trails Implementation Plan recommends 77 kilometres of new bikeway and multi-use trails throughout the city, with the East Don Trail a priority.
The largest and most complex project set out in the plan, the proposed East Don Trail would run through the Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve, from Milne Hollow Park at Lawrence Avenue East and the Don Valley Parkway (DVP), to the Forks of the Don, where the East and West branches of the Don meet, at Don Mills and the DVP. The trail will connect the north and south end of the valley via the Lower Don trail system and with Scarbrough, via the Gatineau Hydro Corridor.
Milne Hollow Park, the northern access point to the East Don corridor and the Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve, officially opened in October 2012, connecting the area to the Wynford Heights community and Moccasin Trail with a multi-use path. The remaining section of the Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve, from Wynford Drive to the Forks of the Don, has remained natural, with informal hiking trails carved out by generations of local residents, hikers, dog-walkers, runners and bikers.
Heavy rainfalls and high waters in the Don River have led to erosion, steep cliffs and an ever changing terrain. The Flemingdon Park Golf and CN Railway run through the area, making it difficult for a formal trail system to be built.
To assess the potential for a formal trail, a feasibility study was completed in May of 2012. It concluded a trail was possible, and laid out challenges to the project, recomending more studies and diaglouge between stakeholders, including Hydro One, Canadian National Railways, Enbridge Gas, and Flemingdon Golf Course.
To determine the best route and address the concerns laid out in the study, The City of Toronto is working with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to conduct further investigations, environmental studies, and public consultation meetings.
The first meeting was held on February 13, where city and TRCA staff were on hand to chat with local residents and hikers about the plan. Maps were laid out on tables, and people used post-it notes to locate where they enter the valley, how they use it, and areas of concern.
Have an idea for the East Don Trail, or something you want to share? The City of Toronto and TRCA want to hear from you—fill out this form by by February 28, and share your ideas and thoughts at email@example.com.