Toronto’s Urban Forest Canopy is so good to us, but we’re currently losing more trees than are being planted. Trees help reduce the urban heat island effect, they provide shade so we can use less air conditioning, help prevent global warming by sequestering CO2, make Kyoto Protocol targets attainable, look great, provide habitat, prevent erosion, contribute to biodiversity, mitigate urban storm water runoff, and make neighbourhoods beautiful. Recent studies have proven that they even reduce crime. Need I go on? Time to get planting!
We are lucky in Toronto to have organizations that help with our City’s beautification. Trees that would normally run between $350-$600, with planting that could set you back an additional $200, are being heavily subsidized for city residents.
A local non-profit group LEAF is offering backyard tree planting in Toronto for the reduced cost of about $80-$130. This is amazing. LEAF is dedicated to improving Toronto’s urban forest, so if your backyard could also use a little sprucing up (pardon the pun) then you should contact them at:
LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests)
Subsidized trees for your yard
T 416 413 9244
LEAF’s service includes on-site advice on appropriate species and planting location, a 1.2 to 1.8m tall native tree, and the planting service. Native shrubs are also available.
If are interested in planning a tree on your front lawn you can get a free tree from the City of Toronto. Urban Forestry Services plants trees on City owned street allowances fronting residential properties for free.
City of Toronto Urban Forestry Services
Free tree for your front lawn
T 416 338 8733
Thanks to our local tree-hugger Alissa for pointing out these great resources! I recently planted two trees and have to say that they make me happy every day.
If you haven’t checked out Wychwood Barns yet it’s well worth the visit. The architecture is beautiful. It’s located on Christie Street just south of St. Clair Avenue. The space houses 13 not-for-profit organizations, 15 professional artists, 26 artists in live/work spaces with their families, a cafe, and some office and rehearsal spaces. Outside the building is a park space, a garden, beach volleyball courts and a playground. On Saturday mornings they have a farmers market and soon a community pizza oven like the one in Dufferin Grove Park.
What I find most striking about this property is the brilliant repurposing of the original building. Originally the barns were TTC car barns dating back to 1913. Now they provide a little oasis in the city.
There’s nothing better than a high participation grassroots event. Last night, the eve after Hallowe’en, I went to Sorauren Park in Roncesvalles to see the annual pumpkin display. Hundreds of people from the area bring their pumpkin jack-o’-lanterns to line the sides of the park and light up one last time. It was mind-blowing how many pumpkins people brought – I’d estimate 500 or more.
There were lots of cool designs, and funny arrangements too: jack-o’-lanterns on the playing fields, jack-o’-lanterns nestled into rock gardens, and even jack-o’-lanterns hanging out on park benches. The humans were definitely outnumbered.
Some of the carvings had a truly amazing level of detail. A few were carved with likenesses of famous and infamous people; see if you can spot Harry Potter and Sarah Palin below.
I highly recommend checking it out next year. Boo!
Heritage Toronto puts on some great walks throughout the city. I recently took one and found it was a nice way to learn about the City’s history and architecture while exploring on a beautiful day. Check out their site for upcoming walks.
I stumbled across some more graffiti, this time on a wall close to Dundas West and Bloor. This particular wall made me chuckle. The images look like illustrations from a children’s novel. All these characters are painted in expressive moments. The crazy-haired pianist sitting spread eagled on the stool, rockin’ out with one finger pointing into the air. The poet preaching spoken word to the world wearing funny plaid pants. The lady with long curly hair taking flight from her day job on the back of a ladybug. The bowl-legged cyclist staring up at the sky. The super tall dude messing around with either an accordion or a beehive. Someone flying a flower flag while another person watches intently.
The theme of all of these images is confidence: each character appears confident and happy about what they are doing. There is no grass-is-greener going on in this painting. The way each of the characters is fully living in the moment may be why this collage reminds me of childrens’ books.
It’s a nice break from a usual walk down the street. The artist has a website listed if you are interested in looking at more images.
Skating season is here again. Nathan Phillips Square and City Hall are all gussied up with lights to get you in the holiday spirit, and the City has a rink hotline for updates on all of its rinks. What a lovely way to spend an evening: get some fresh air, exercise, and finish off with a hot chocolate. I love the way your cheeks get rosy and people weave in and out of each other’s movement patterns. Time to dig up those rusted skates and get them sharpened!
We’re a long way off from achieving the full Toronto waterfront plan, but there is undeniably steady improvement happening on Toronto’s shoreline. It’s been especially nice seeing the park spaces evolve over the past 5- 10 years. I hope they soon get completely interconnected so that the entire space becomes one big continuous public nature walk. Here are a few of the waterfront parks I’ve visited recently: HTO is the newest, opened in June of this year. It’s quite modern and elegant; they brought in white beach sand, put up some cute umbrellas and planted beautiful little trees (are they weeping willows?). It’s pretty, both in daytime and at night. And startling in its urban setting just south of the dome and CN Tower.
Just a five minute walk west from HTO at the foot of Spadina is the Music Garden, which Yo-Yo Ma helped design. It has an amazing open-air amphitheatre, beautiful flower gardens, and as you might expect from the name they do play concerts here. And if you hop on your bike and head about 20 minutes further west along the lakefront bicycle trail, you’ll eventually hit Humber Bay Park. I especially like this one for the views; the park is on a peninsula that juts out into the harbor, and from the tip you get spectacular skyline views of downtown, like this one I found on Flickr. I’ll post a photo of my own next time I’m out there. There’s heaps more to discover. Get thee to the waterfront! P.S. Expect posts to be a little infrequent during these last few lazy days of August.