Guest Contibutors

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Rediscovering the Sandy Beaches of Guildwood     April 2022

By Roy Wright

As a waterfront resident of Guildwood Village, every day I see locals, dog walkers, and hikers enjoying the shoreline experience. This eastern sector of the Scarborough Bluffs coastline serves a bird sanctuary and an eco-friendly wildlife corridor. The Guildwood beaches have become a popular summer destination for the public, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak.

One of Toronto’s greatest assets is its public beaches where people can enjoy access to the fresh waters of Lake Ontario. Sandy beaches provide safe recreational opportunities for sun seekers, surfers, hiking, swimming, and small craft boating.

The unique cliffs of Scarborough Bluffs, a 12,000 year-old remnant of the ice age, are the source of all Toronto sandy beaches. The westward flow of currents carrying silt and sand formed the Toronto islands and are still the dynamic source supplying sand to Woodbine beach, Bluffers Park beach, and the beaches of Guildwood and East Point Park.

This 3 km stretch of the eastern Scarborough Bluffs coastline is rugged and ungroomed, with driftwood scattered along the tree-lined foot of the bluffs. A panoramic view reveals an expansive sky over the uninterrupted blue horizon of lake water. No nuclear plant, industrial sites, commercial buildings, nor power lines are in sight to spoil the waterfront experience.

If hiking from the East Point Park parking lot located at the foot of Beechgrove Drive it will take over an hour to reach the Guildwood beach. To access Guildwood beach from Guildwood Parkway, visitors and residents must enter at the service road parking lot located at the foot of Galloway Road. A steep walk down the paved service road brings you to the armour stone waterfront wall and a path that terminates at the sandy beach of Guildwood.

The busiest and deepest sandy beaches are from Guildwood to Grey Abbey Park where four sandy bays are sustained by five armour stone headlands. Spoiler alert: if you continue walking east of Grey Abbey Park beach toward East Point, you enter a remote area of beach well known for nudists.

For those venturing a day at the Guildwood beaches for the first time, keep in mind that the eco-sensitive shoreline is a habitat supporting a variety of animals, reptiles, migratory birds, and fish spawning. In recent times, the public has acted responsibly by placing their garbage and recyclables in the bins provided by the Parks Department.

If you plan a day in the sun along the Guildwood beach with your coolers, cabanas, or inflatable kayaks, be aware that there are no washroom facilities available.

Be sure to get out and enjoy a day of safe recreational access to the water along the beaches of Guildwood before Toronto City Council approves the budget for TRCA’s proposed option to sacrifice these public beaches to construct a waterfront service road. This once protected area of natural shoreline is no longer considered a conservational or environmental priority.

Roy Wright   Waterfront Resident of Guildwood


Have You Considered Getting a Heat Pump?      April 2022

By Janet & Nick Nanaos

Soon, Toronto will mandate that all new buildings must have green heating and cooling systems.[1] Vancouver and Quebec recently banned certain kinds of fossil fuel-based heating in new home construction and similar bans are happening around the world, from Norway to New York City.[2]

Last November we installed a heat pump in our home replacing our aging furnace and making our home fossil-fuel free. We’d heard about heat pumps at the Toronto East End Climate Collective and learned about its many benefits. We wanted to change our heating system from a greenhouse gas emitting oil furnace to a practically zero emissions electric heat pump.

Instead of burning fuel, a heat pump works by transferring heat energy between an indoor and an outdoor air handler. In winter it extracts heat energy from outside air transferring the heat into your house. Even at minus 30 degrees, there is still enough heat energy in the air allowing the compressed refrigerant to raise the temperature and pipe it into your home. In summer, the same unit reverses and works like a standard air conditioner using refrigerant to absorb heat in your home transferring it outside. This website will explain heating and cooling with a heat pump. See the section “How Does an Air-Source Heat Pump Work?” for a diagram:

We save an impressive 6 tonnes of carbon emissions per year–about the same as driving an SUV for a year. The heat pump system is very economical to run and costs approximately the same as natural gas. Our house is more comfortable and the air is healthier[3] since we are not burning a fossil fuel inside. The heat pump saves space because it takes up less room in the basement.

Installing a heat pump is more expensive than replacing it with a gas, oil or electric furnace, but there are rebates to partially offset this cost. We bought a Cold Climate Mitsubishi Zuba heat pump system that uses our existing ducts for $19,900 (ductless systems are also an option). The federal government rebate for this is $5000, making our cost less than $15,000. By contrast, the average cost of a new gas furnace is $5-7000 and an air conditioner averages around $4-7000, but with its increased efficiency and adding insulation, a heat pump will pay for itself over a few years. By switching from oil we are saving over $2000 a year and our heat pump will last about the same length of time as a conventional furnace.

We were lucky that we did not have to replace our furnace in mid-winter. It was still warm enough to arrange the energy audit, order and wait for the unit, and then keep warm for the 2 days the installation took. Switching to a heat pump requires planning.

We would advise updating the insulation in your house before installing a heat pump. If you have gas, Enbridge has grants for insulation and window upgrades. Apply for those first, then the Greener Homes grant for the heat pump.

The current patchwork of government and Enbridge rebates and city loans is cumbersome and needs to be improved. This is the link for more details on how to begin applying for the Greener Homes grant:

Be careful of out-of-date information–our oil tank inspector told us that a heat pump will not work all year round and a heat pump will stop functioning below minus twenty degrees Celsius. This may have been true in the past but technologies are being upgraded. Our Cold Climate heat pump has worked well in this winter’s ice and snow with minus twenty-two-degree weather, and we have not needed a backup system. Our Cold Climate system is rated to minus thirty degrees Celsius.

The oil technician also informed us that his company sells heat pumps but they do not have people to install or service them. There is not enough supply or trained people to install and service them. This problem requires a national retrofit plan to provide information to consumers, create jobs, train technicians and provide the services required to promote and install green systems nation-wide. In Toronto buildings account for about 57% of greenhouse gas emissions, the largest source of emissions in Toronto, so this is an important issue.

It is worth the effort to work your way through the current rebate and loan system. The best time to start is before your furnace has come to the end of its life, so you are not locked into another fossil fuel burning system for the next 15 to 20 years. Think about it and start planning for a greener future!