While still in its preconstruction stage, this project was moved closer to implementation when it passed another milestone this fall – an amendment to the Environmental Assessment filed earlier this year by the TRCA. Previous assessments and tweaks to the project have been in the works for years.
According to the TRCA website, the project will “protect and enhance terrestrial and aquatic habitat, improve the natural heritage system, and manage public safety” It will also “provide an enjoyable waterfront experience and address problems identified during previous studies of the region, including shoreline erosion, limited waterfront access and space for park visitors”
But as readers may remember from previous articles in The Monitor, not everyone agrees with these claims. In the last round of consultations, local residents and people who use the area like surfers Nadia Baer and Jeff Green had a lot to say about shoreline changes and the impact of increased human use on this unique wilderness. Writer and conservationist Jane Fairburn, author of Along the Shore, and the upcoming Longing for the Land, states “the loss of sand beach below the Grey Abbey Trail will lead to the destruction of the natural web of life at the water’s edge. Many species that exist there now like turtles, the threatened bank swallows, snakes, salamanders, and muskrats, will lose their habitat. They are the collateral damage of this project.”
Changes to the western section of the area between Bluffer’s Park and Meadowcliffe include expansion of the existing beach on the headland at the west end of the park under Cathedral Bluffs, and the
creation of a small cobble beach.
Changes to the central segment between Meadowcliffe and Grey Abbey include a new headland and beach at the base of the Doris McCarthy Trail, two new headlands,
and the extension of an existing
headland into the lake at the east end of the Meadowcliffe shoreline.
Changes to the eastern section of the area area between Grey Abbey and Highland Creek include removal of the existing breakwater under the Guildwood Parkway shoreline, and construction of a headland and beach that extends to the east side of Grey Abbey Ravine. A multi-use trail will run through all three segments.
While the stated goals of this enormous undertaking: increased access , preservation of natural habitat, and control of erosion, might seem commendable; changes to this wild shoreline, one of the most important natural landscapes in Toronto, are not a foregone conclusion. If you have questions or concerns about the project you can still contribute your opinion to your local Councilor, the TRCA, The City of Toronto, and The Ontario Ministry of Environment.
Information about the plan and its Environmental Assessment can be found online at www.trca.ca
Hard copies can be obtained or viewed at Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, 135 St. Clair Avenue West, 1st FloorToronto, Ontario M4V 1P5
Toronto City Hall – Clerk’s Office TRCA Head Office, as well as Cliffcrest, Guildwood, and Morningside libraries.