Bike to Work day, an annual event on the third Friday of May, promotes the trusty bicycle as an option for commuting to work. Cycling offers up many health benefits as well as reduces carbon emissions, reduces traffic congestion and is well also lots of fun! Though right now most of us are working from home why not celebrate by taking a break from the home office and getting out to explore one of the nearby trails and bike patch.
Windsor Essex is a cyclists dream – no matter if you are new to two wheels or an experienced rider! W.E. have miles of trails for you to enjoy. Use our Cycle Tourism Map to explore – there are six highlighted routes to help plan your next two-wheeled adventure.
If you have a few hectares of rural property, but really don’t know what to do with it, Jeremy Innanen has a solution.
Innanen, who owns Innanen Outdoors, said he saw a need to give landowners some help with trail development, creating habitat, or growing food for horses and livestock.
“A lot of people own semi-rural properties and own chunks of land that really do fully enjoy having that property. So, giving them all the tools and the knowledge to help them, provide them with their property dreams,” he said.
Innanen said the idea of tailoring a property to attract specific animals, like white tailed deer, is more popular in southern Ontario or the midwest U.S.
“Your property gets utilized at different times of the year regarding travel of animals and the reason why they use those areas,” he said, noting that after a site visit, he could have a decent idea of where and why particular species would use a particular piece of land.
Today, Mayor John Tory along with Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park) and Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, marked Earth Day by highlighting the City’s $82.5 million investment this year in the Toronto’s Ravine Strategy.
The $82.5 million in funding for the Ravine Strategy includes:
$12.4 million in operating funding through Parks, Forestry and Recreation – a 10 per cent increase from last year despite an incredibly tough 2021 budget due to the ongoing pandemic.
$70.1 million in capital investments across numerous City divisions including Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Transportation Services and Toronto Water as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
The increased investment in Toronto’s Ravine Strategy this year will allow for:
Enhanced litter pickup in ravines and increased focus on addressing incidents of illegal dumping, activities that can seriously harm ravines. Last year, City staff removed 74 tonnes of garbage and 14 tonnes of recyclable metal from 97 hectares of ravine land. Litter pickup will increase by about 30 per cent as a result of additional funding.
Expanded invasive species management. Last year, staff controlled invasive plant species over 234 hectares of ravine land. The extra funding will see staff manage invasive species over up to 300 hectares in 2021.
Enhanced youth internships through the ravine youth team program which is a paid summer internship program for post-secondary students, offered in partnership with TRCA. The program provides work, professional development and opportunities for youth to build and expand their networks through a wide range of activities that support and contribute to the ravine strategy. Applications for the 2021 program will open soon .
Additional capital projects that will improve well-used and well-loved trails and pathways and the overall user experience of Toronto’s ravine system, including the West Don Trail through E.T. Seton Park.
Ravines are a major part of Toronto’s green infrastructure, and along with parks and tree canopy, provide many environmental, health and recreational benefits. They are a part of a larger watershed system, helping to filter and convey stormwater, enhance biodiversity and reduce urban heat. Ravines also contain grey infrastructure, such as utilities and sewer lines, and some of the busiest roads and trails that help move people through the city, such as the Don Valley Parkway and Lower Don Trail.
According to the provincial government, the new measures are intended to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases as the third wave of the pandemic continues.
All of that means there are new limits on what residents can and cannot do. Here are some answers to questions you might have.
Can I go for a walk?
Yes. In its regulations, the government says: “An outdoor recreational amenity that is a park or recreational area may be open for the purposes of permitting persons to walk through the park or recreational area.”
Can I go for a walk with a friend?
This question is trickier.
The government says in its regulations that any person who uses outdoor parks and recreational areas, off-leash dog areas, or benches in parks and recreational areas “shall maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person who is also using the amenity, other than a person who is a member of the same household, a member of one other household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of either household.”
Can I gather with people outside of my household?
No, unless you live alone, and then you can gather with only one other household. The province said in a news release on Friday that it has prohibited “all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household.”
Can I take my dog to an off-leash park?
Yes. But you have to maintain a two-metre distance from anyone who is not a member of your household and who is not a caregiver of a member of your household.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based at Toronto General Hospital, said Saturday that the province should be encouraging people to go outside. Bogoch is also a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force.
“It’s good for physical health. It’s good for mental health, especially with all the other horrible things that are going on in the middle of the third wave. Being outdoors is probably one of the best things you can do,” Bogoch said.
“It’s pretty clear that the outdoors is probably the safest place you could be during the course of the pandemic. We know that the risk of transmission outdoors is not zero per cent, but it’s getting close. It’s really, really low risk.”
The now-amended rules around playground use resulted in a tense situation for one Ottawa woman, who told CBC News she was threatened with a call to the police on Saturday morning by a stranger.
Simmi Dixit said she was walking through a park with her partner and young daughter when a man said he’d call the police on them because they were not allowed to be there. Dixit said they were not touching any outdoor amenities when they were confronted.
“People are at a point where they’re starting to emotionally break,” Dixit told CBC News.
“I think the narrative of fear that we’re hearing around COVID is affecting the way people judge themselves in these situations. We’re perceiving each other as threats instead of looking to each other for strength and support.”
Can I play golf on a golf course?
Can I play tennis and basketball at a court?
No. And you cannot use any amenities such as those for platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts.
Can I play baseball at a diamond?
Can I enjoy a skate park or a BMX park?
No. And you can’t play Frisbee golf at such a location either.
Can I have a picnic at a picnic table?
No, you can’t. A picnic table is considered an outdoor amenity.
It’s Saturday, March 20. It’s not only the first day of spring, but the first warm sunny day after a long pandemic winter.
Cullum McConnell and his nephews, Ray, 8, and Frank, 6, enjoy the day skateboarding at Toronto’s Cedarvale Park. Beginners Ray and Frank happily skate around the dry splash pad as Cullum demonstrates some basic flips.
“It’s a nice park to have close by,” said Cullum, a teacher.
Located in Toronto’s west end between St. Clair Avenue and Eglinton Avenue, Cedarvale Park has extensive green space, along with athletic fields, a dog park, a splash pad, and deep cricket pitch. A trail also crosses through the forested ravine.
“I go running here,” said Cullum. “Sometimes, the kids ride their bikes through here, they like to watch dogs at the dog park, play baseball in the field, or go tobogganing in the winter. It’s got lots of facilities that we all make use of, and the park’s been used much more during the pandemic.”
He’s right about Cedarvale Park’s busyness. Several passerby on the paved pathway, a father and son play at a nearby tennis table, and friends and families grouped together on the distant grass.
Parks have offered people a relief from the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders. They have become essential and popular spaces for activity, entertainment and social connection. Park use is up — and it’s up a lot.
Adri Stark of Park People explains the increased use of Toronto’s parks:
Google has maintained a COVID-19 Mobility Report since Feb. 17 of last year, collecting mobility data from the location history of people’s phones and comparing it to pre-pandemic numbers. On the weekend of March 20, Google reported that park use was 30 per cent above pre-pandemic numbers in Canada. And last summer, Canadian park visits regularly got over 100 per cent above pre-pandemic levels peaking at 179 per cent.
Park People also conducted a COVID-19 parks survey that found 55 per cent of Canadian cities recorded increased park usage; coinciding with Toronto’s increase. The organization, which supports and mobilizes local groups and cities to realize the power of parks, acquired this data from 1,600 questionnaire responses distributed to park staff, city officials, and park visitors last June.
“The pandemic has led people to parks, trails, and natural spaces like never before,” Terri LeRoux, a senior manager in PARCS (Property, Assets, Recreation and Conservation Areas) at the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, said in an email. “There remains a sense of normalcy and calmness at our parks and conservation areas.”
This growth in visiting parks and conservation areas is matched by an increase in gratitude for green space. Park People’s survey found that 70 per cent of people had developed a greater appreciation of parks during the pandemic.
“I find I appreciate park space more in light of the pandemic and utilize it more than I otherwise would,” said Mike Burekas as he and his partner Anastasya Kurivean waited in line to use Cedarvale Park’s tennis courts.
They don’t ordinarily play tennis but decided to try it out because of the nice spring weather.
“It’s a beautiful park,” Burekas said. “It’s green space and nice to escape to. She lives in a condo and I live in an apartment, we don’t have yards and this is a nice open space.”
The closure of indoor recreation centres and gyms means outdoor spaces are a great venue for activities. The lockdown led some people to discover and learn new outdoor hobbies. For instance, Annette and David Carnucci tried cross country skiing.
“We usually downhill ski, but Blue Mountain was closed,” said Annette in a Zoom interview from her and David’s home in Collingwood, Ont. “I had the opportunity to borrow my friend’s skate skis and take advantage of it at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.”
Closed recreation stores meant David couldn’t invest in new skiing equipment, so he borrowed skis, going so far as to wear extra socks so the boots could fit.
“We improvised, but we’re having fun learning something different.”
On a sunny March 21, a group of music students from Humber College played jazz for a large, well-spaced audience at Christie Pits Park, near the intersection of Bloor Street West and Christie Street.
“This specific thing is mostly thrown together,” said Nick Marshall, the group’s trombonist. “It’s whoever can come. We mostly call tunes, we don’t rehearse, and we play tunes we all know and work out on the bandstand.”
Hoping you would be able to attend this important webinar! As we all deal with aspects of COVID-19, an understanding of its impacts on trails and trail use should help all of us plan and manage our trails throughout this pandemic.
Toronto explorer Mario Rigby successfully wrapped up a 20-day trip on Thursday kayaking the length of Lake Ontario.
“Every year I try to do a big challenge,” said Rigby, who has an extraordinary resumé of adventures he’s done, including cycling across Canada from B.C. to Newfoundland and crossing Africa, from South Africa to Egypt, by foot and kayak.
“I want[ed] to kayak all of the Great Lakes, but I didn’t have the timeline,” he explained. So he opted for Lake Ontario. “It’s local, it’s home, and I [thought I could] probably do it in less than a month.”