Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reconfiguration of the Martin Goodman Trail at Unwin & Leslie

Attended the walk-about of the site on the evening of May 21, 2014 - with TRCA, Planning, Transportation, Parks ... ? Many of the Tommy Thompson Park User Group were there; as well as Trail Users who responded to Ward 30 Bikes community outreach. The site visit was lead by Park Manager Karen McDonald.

Three Possible Routes - Martin Goodman Trail Reconfiguration Map TRCA - May 21, 2014

The consensus was to move it just to the right a bit into the swap. Will result is lost trees, lost swamp habitat areas of the wetland ... and Much expense.

Plus - construction staging on Unwin during the construction will restrict traffic to some extent.

The existing road bed, just under a thin sod layer about 100 meters south of Unwin, travels from beside the new Tommy Thompson parking lot, almost in a straight line over to the existing Unwin road alignment at the cooling channel bridge.

Issues with this no-brainer route though - are numerous:

1) Off-leah dogs (illegal) would endanger thew habitat and species living there. They would be free to disrupt and kill wildlife in a large area of the Baselands (which covers ~35 hectares) ... so a fence along the south side of the Trail would have to be installed (on the north side open water would theoretically create a natural boundary that would protect nesting species there from dogs).

2) In nature conservancy the idea of 'mass' is important - large areas support species and a larger network of species better than small ones. The Trail would create a barrier between habitats essentially creating one big zone, and one tiny one. Naturalists repeatedly referred to it as "losing" the habitat area between the existing fence and a set-back Trail.

3) Politically - Some participants laid out the argument that development of the Port Lands might make Park lands more vulnerable to future development along the area - that the Park land might be more liable to be enveloped by development interests if the Trail was placed back 100 metres from Unwin. The argument goes that the trail would become the *perceived* boundary line of the Park - rather than the fence - which is the Actual property line between with the Toronto Port Lands Company lands (who actually own Unwin Avenue along this section) and the City of Toronto Park.

For Trail Users, the route along the edge of the Unwin roadway would be sided on one side by a road with cars and trucks on it - noise and toxic exhaust emissions would ruin the idea of a ride in the Wilderness. Conversely along this route, the Trail would have along it's south side, an intimate proximity to the wetlands - at times swamp water (with bulrushes and Water Lilies for example) would actually touch the edges of the Trail's foundations.

Along the old road bed 100 metres south, the Trail would be in the midst of a wetland habitat, far from the noise of the road and out of visual range of it as well. It would feel like one was on a trail through a wild place - a Wilderness.

There is something to be said for the design juxtaposition that the Unwin route provides - the wild environs proximate to the technology that is a roadway..

The sequestered route through the middle of the wetland it was also noted, could have issues with misuse by individuals after hours.

Hard to call.

What do you think?

Public Consultation on this will continue for the Parks summer season (to November). New media is being produced by TRCA showing the proposed routes and possible impact points on habitat.

Ward 30 Bikes will keep on this and post those new media here when they become available.


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