The East Don Trail will provide a single multi-use trail in a valley system that currently contains an extensive network of informal trails. This will encourage users to stay on a single route away from more ecologically sensitive areas, minimizing negative environmental effects. For more information refer to Questions 29 and 31.
During the 30-day review period, members of the public submitted written requests to the provincial Minister of the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change to require the City to comply with Part II of the Environmental Assessment Act, which would require a higher level of assessment.
The requests are being reviewed and the City is awaiting a decision by the Minister.
Under the Environmental Assessment Act, there are four decisions that the Minister can make, including:
- refer the matter to mediation before making a decision
- deny the request and inform the proponent and requester
- deny the request but impose conditions
- require the City to comply with Part II Order and prepare a terms of reference and individual environmental assessment
Further details on the Part II Order process can be found at: www.ontario.ca/page/class-environmental-assessments-part-ii-order.
The project will not proceed to construction unless a decision from the Minister allows it to do so. A date for a decision from the Minister is unknown.
11. Once the project is approved by Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), what are the next steps?
Once the approval is granted, the project will move into the implementation phase. The implementation phase, or Phase 5, includes completion of trail detailed design, contract drawings and documents, followed by trail construction and operation with appropriate monitoring, as detailed in the Environmental Study Report.
12. What happens during the trail detailed design?
The trail detailed design will refine and finalize the preferred trail design concept selected in Phase 3 of the EA and described in the Study ESR. This phase will produce detailed design drawings including construction standards and specifications, Construction Management Plan, Environmental Monitoring Plan and trail Operations and Maintenance Plan.
13. Does the project have to go through any reviews or permits beyond the EA?
Yes. A number of permits and approvals will need to be secured prior to trail construction. Acts, regulations and City by-laws that may need to be adhered to include, but are not limited to the, Migratory Birds Convention Act, Ontario Heritage Act, Conservation Authorities Act , Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law and Noise Control By-law.
In addition, where the proposed trail route intercepts public utilities, review and approvals will be required from those utility companies, including: GO/Metrolinx, Hydro One, and Enbridge Gas.
General Design Parameters
14. What is the general design for the trail?
The trail will be designed as multi-use trail. Toronto has hundreds of kilometres of multi-use trails in parks, hydro and rail corridors, boulevards and natural areas across the city. Multi-use trails are generally paved and shared by people walking, in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, running, in-line skating and cycling. The East Don Trail will be an approximately 3.6 to 4 meter wide, 4.8 kilometer long asphalt multi-use trail routed within the East Don Valley, and contain a number of watercourse bridges and crossings of the rail line.
15. Where will the proposed trail be located?
A number of factors were assessed to determine the most suitable trail location, including physical, natural, social-economic, and cultural environments. The preferred trail route meets the Study objectives for providing safe access to the valley lands, a safe off-road option for cyclists and other users, as well as providing a simple focused route while avoiding or minimizing environmental impacts.
To view the preferred design concept, see Summer 2016 Update.
16. Where will the access points to the trail be located?
The trail will be accessible from the existing East Don Trail, Lower Don Trail, Taylor Creek Trail, West Don Trail and Bermondsey Road. The potential for access to communities and other public infrastructure was considered in the development and evaluation of the trail alignments and will be further explored in the trail detailed design.
17. What type of material will be used for the trail surface?
The majority of the trail surface will be asphalt. Asphalt was chosen because it is a firm and stable surface, does not erode, and has lower maintenance costs than other materials (e.g., natural surface, limestone screenings, woodchips). Asphalt is also able to support a variety of users and abilities (i.e., children, users with mobility issues, and elderly users) and is considered a standard trail surface for multi-use trails by the City of Toronto. In some sections of the trail a boardwalk surface may be necessary to travel across lower wet areas.
18. Will trail amenities be provided (e.g., signage, lighting, etc.)?
Yes. Some trail amenities will be located at nodal points (where the trail meets the road, other trails or parkland), and may include garbage receptacles, signage and bicycle parking. Lighting will be explored at areas where the trail meets the street (access points). These types of amenities including, specific locations, type and details will be determined in the detailed design phase of the Study.
19. Will the existing gravel access route along the East Don River which is used by Toronto Water remain as it is?
Toronto Water uses the existing route in the southern portion of the Study Area for periodic monitoring of the East Don Trunk Sewer. The preferred trail alignment also utilizes this route. Shared use of the trail with Toronto Water will have a smaller footprint of impact to the local area.
20. When will construction of the trail start?
The trail will be constructed in three (3) phases as follows:
1) The section of trail to be constructed in Phase 1 extends from the Lower Don Trail, over Taylor Massey Creek, along the Toronto Water access route, through the lower section of the ravine towards Flemingdon Park Golf Club and east through the Gatineau Hydro Corridor, terminating at Bermondsey Road.
2) Phase 2 is planned to extend from the existing East Don Trail south to Eglinton Avenue East, with construction.
3) Phase 3 will connect Phase 1 and Phase 2, from Eglinton Avenue East south to the Gatineau Hydro Corridor.
Construction schedule has yet to be determined. Construction for each phase will be subject to approvals and budget availability.
21. How long will it take to construct the trail?
Currently, there is no definite time line for the length of construction. Construction of the trail will be done in three (3) phases as outlined in Question 21, with the construction of the complete trail taking approximately 5 or more years, subject to approvals and budget availability.
22. How will trail construction impact the surrounding environment and what will you do to ensure it’s protected?
The trail construction may impact the surrounding environment in a number of ways. Construction activities may affect local vegetation (tree removal), aquatic environment (sediment run-off), wildlife (displacement as a result of construction-related disturbance), existing natural area uses (adjacent trails closures and intermittent increases in noise and vibration levels) and several other environment components.
To minimize the impacts, various mitigation measures have been proposed. These include sediment and erosion control measures, post-construction site restoration and tree planting, conformance to migratory and breeding bird timing windows, minimizing the size of staging areas, and issuing timely construction notices to local residents and park users.
The project Environmental Study Report contains a detailed description of construction-related environmental impacts and mitigation measures. As per the requirements of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment, these provisions are to be adhered to during trail implementation.
23. How will the public be updated about the trail detailed design and construction?
The public can keep informed in a number of ways:
- A public event will be held during the detailed design phase
- The project website for the EA will be maintained for the detailed design and construction phases: www.toronto.ca/eastdontrail
- Members of the public who wish to receive updates by mail can contact Maogosha Pyjor, Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, by phone: 416-338-2850 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- People can subscribe to the Study E-Mail list to receive updates. To receive updates by email, subscribe to the mailing list under the Contact Us section of the project website.
24. Some areas in the valley are very steep. If a trail is built there it may be inaccessible for people with mobility issues and elderly users. How will this be addressed?
The East Don valley lands provide an interesting and varied trail experience, but do present challenges for making the trail easily accessible to people with mobility limitations, such as those with a disability, the elderly and people with strollers. Wherever possible, the trail will be designed and built to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
Throughout the process of the selecting the design concept, all efforts were made to route the trail in areas of minimal grade changes. In cases where the trail locations, and consequently the design, are restricted, less steep alternatives were explored. Trail detailed design will incorporate signage informing users of trail segments with potential access challenges.
25. What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted by the provincial government in 2005 to help make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life. For more information on the AODA visit: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/understanding_accessibility/aoda.aspx
26. Will Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act apply to the East Don Trail Project?
The East Don Trail will comply with the requirements set out by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). However, AODA allows for exceptions to be made where meeting requirements is not possible due to:
- existing site constraints (for example, existing hydro, rail and gas infrastructure); and
- negative effects on water, fish, wildlife, plants, invertebrates, species at risk, ecological integrity, or natural/cultural heritage values
The City of Toronto's Parks Forestry & Recreation Advocate for People with Disabilities is involved with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for the East Don Trail Study. In addition the City’s Parks Forestry & Recreation Community Disability Steering Committee has been engaged during the EA process, and will continue to be engaged as part of the detailed design. These individuals will provide input into the design process to ensure that accessibility standards are met wherever possible.
For more information on making trails more accessible visit: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/info_sheets/public_spaces/trails_beach.aspx
27. How will you ensure that the trail will not look “over developed”? I like the natural feel of the Don Valley lands.
One of the defining features of the current Study Area is the feeling of escaping into nature while still being in the city. During the evaluation and selection process of the preferred route opportunities to avoid or mitigate effects on the natural environment were addressed, and included a trail aesthetics component. Based on this component, crossing structures and segments most consistent with the natural environment experience were ranked higher during the evaluation and selected to form the preferred route, where possible.
28. Will an increase in traffic in the area harm existing plants and wildlife?
Currently, the East Don valley lands have an extensive network of informal trails (dirt trails that develop over time from repeated use). Throughout the Study Area, these informal trails have an impact on the natural environment, including:
- habitat fragmentation – the breaking up one patch of habitat into a number of smaller patches
- increased opportunities for interaction –between people and local wildlife and/or, their pets and wildlife.
By developing a single multi-use trail, users will be encouraged to stay on a single route. In addition, the trail will allow access to the valley for future restoration and maintenance of areas that are currently in a deteriorated state.
29. Will there be any restoration work or improvements to the natural environment in the area associated with the trail?
The trail design and location will respect the natural environment and minimize negative environmental impacts. However, it is recognized that some damage may occur.
A Monitoring Plan will be developed in the detailed design project phase that will outline the procedures to monitor the potential environmental impacts of trail construction as well as assess the effectiveness of impact mitigation measures. Also to be developed during detailed design, the Restoration Plan will address compensation for necessary vegetation removal required to construct the trail. The plan will specify compensation for the removed and/or injured trees, at a greater amount than removed.
Finally, the City of Toronto will adhere to any conditions, such as tree and shrub planting, of permits issued under applicable regulations, such as Toronto's Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law (www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_658.pdf).
30. Will the development of the trail increase the spread of invasive species?
Invasive species are plants, animals, aquatic life and micro-organisms that out compete native species when introduced outside of their natural environment and threaten the local ecosystem. Invasive species are already present throughout much of the Study Area. Informal trails which people use through both infested areas and pristine areas are one way invasive species are spread.
Part of the Study looked at minimizing negative environmental effects by concentrating use on a single trail, away from areas with higher ecological value where possible. A formal trail that allows for better access to the valley will also make it easier for the City to monitor and address the spread of invasive species.
To reduce the potential of trail construction contributing to invasive species spread, the following measures will be implemented during construction:
- · Minimize importing and/or moving fill/soil, where possible
- Retain as much existing vegetation as possible during site preparation and construction
- Avoid transplanting vegetation to minimize spread of invasive species from infested to non-infested areas
- Employ restoration practices that contribute to prevention of invasive species spread (e.g., use site-appropriate native plants and invasive-free materials for post-construction restoration)
31. How will the development of the trail impact local wildlife?
Impacts on wildlife associated with trail development vary depending on the species of animal. The majority of wildlife in the Study Area are species that have successfully adapted to and are commonly found in urban settings (e.g. grey squirrel). The potential negative effects on wildlife of developing a single multi-use trail are expected to be minor overall.
To minimize the impact of trail construction to wildlife, the following measures are proposed:
- Design the trail and configure construction access and staging areas to minimize vegetation removal, grading and filling, where possible.
- Restrict site preparation, such as tree removal, during the time of year when migratory and other birds are breeding (between May 1 and July 31).
- Restore areas around the trail after constructing using appropriate native tree and shrub species and consider other habitat enhancements where appropriate.
- If necessary, further measures to minimize potential impacts will be developed in consultation with the City of Toronto Tree Protection and Plan Review section, TRCA biologists and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
32. How will the trail impact the deer that currently use the area?
Impacts on white-tailed deer in the Study Area are expected to be minor. Efforts will be made to minimize removal of trees and shrubs that provide cover for deer. In addition, providing a single trail can lower disturbance to deer by concentrating human use to a smaller area which deer can avoid. Deer are highly adaptable and able to use a variety of landscapes, except open areas where they cannot take cover. In urban areas, white-tailed deer become more active at night and use areas with more cover during the day.
33. Are the private landowners in the local Study Area being consulted?
Yes. The private landowners and key stakeholders that will be directly impacted by the design and construction of the proposed trail are being consulted regularly throughout the Class EA process, and their feedback and concerns are being documented by the project team. They include Hydro One, Enbridge, Flemingdon Park Golf Club, and GO/Metrolinx.
34. What will happen to the Flemingdon Park Golf Club?
In the evaluation of trail alignments, the alignment which went through the Flemingdon Park Golf Club (River Walk B) scored the highest in terms of functional value, less impact on natural and physical environment, and user experience. However, the preferred alignment that has been selected is the second highest scoring alignment (Hillside Trail) with a portion of the trail which runs adjacent to the Golf Course. Hillside trail was chosen because it does not affect the current operations of the golf club or require private property acquisition. The East Don Trail Project team will continue to consult with Flemindgon Park Golf Club throughout the process.
35. How will the new multi-use trail provide safe access to the valley lands?
A number of design criteria will be looked at during the detailed design stage of the Study to help ensure safety of trail users including:
- Providing safer routes and access points to the valley lands that cross the river and rail line in a safe manner, address erosion issues; and, avoid flood prone or steep areas, where possible.
- Designing the trail to accommodate Emergency Medical Services vehicles (i.e. ambulances).
- Ensuring unobstructed sight lines for trail users.
- Compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) – see Accessibility questions for more information
- · Providing signs that outline existing Parks, Forestry & Recreation bylaws (www.toronto.ca/trees/ravines.htm) like those that restrict the use of motorized bicycles on trails, maximum cyclists speeds of 20 km/hr, and dogs on-leash regulation. For more information on bylaws for parks, visit www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_608.pdf
36. Will a new multi-use trail be able to accommodate different users safely?
Multi-use trails can work. Sharing trails helps to build a trail community in which users cooperate to preserve and protect a common resource. When all trail users observe basic trail etiquette, their encounters with other users will be amicable, and most people will have a satisfying experience on the trail. Trail head signs will help to promote trail etiquette so that all users are aware of how to use the trail appropriately. Residents are encouraged to call 311 for anything of concern.
A number of factors will be considered during detailed design to address user safety including:
- · Width requirements for safe multi-use (3.5 to 4.0 metres)
- Clear sight lines
- Pavement markings to direct users
- Resting and passing areas
- Regulatory, informational and warning signage
Where the trail intersects with access points a number of measures will be considered to increase safety for users including:
- Impressed pavement treatments
- Cautionary wording in the trail pavement to help to slow faster users and provide awareness for all users of a trail crossing
Trail and Users
37. Will the new plan include winter maintenance of the Trail?
No. Parks, Forestry and Recreation does not maintain multi-use trails in winter and the Study does not recommend winter maintenance of this trail. Winter maintenance is not being considered for a variety of reasons including cost, topography of the trail, and potential impacts on the adjacent natural area.
38. Will you be doing anything to address the increase in garbage that will come with an increase in users?
The City will provide trash bins at trail access points. In addition, a formalized trail will help concentrate the majority of users into a single area and thereby reduce the amount of litter in more sensitive areas of the valley.
39. Will off-leash dogs still be allowed in the area once the trail is constructed?
Off-leash dog parks are not part of the scope of this Study. Under the Parks Bylaw (Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 608-34) and the Animals Bylaw (Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 349-11), dogs are required to be on a leash when not in a designated off-leash area.
A number of existing off-leash dog parks are located within the City. The closest ones are located at the Brickworks (Bayview and Mortimer), Sherwood Park (Mount Pleasant north of Eglington),Sunnybrook Park (south of Sunnybrook hospital, near Bayview and Eglinton) and at the Taylor Creek parking lot (east of Don Mills Road at the Taylor Creek Trail head). For more information, see the complete list of dog parks within the City of Toronto
Any request for a new off-leash dog area on City parks should follow the normal procedure as defined in the "People, Dogs and Parks – Off-Leash Policy" independent of this project. For more information, please visit the City of Toronto website.
40. What will happen to the natural surface (dirt) trails in the area?
The scope of this Study is limited to a multi-use paved trail. The natural surface trails will be addressed as part of the City of Toronto's Natural Environment Trail Strategy. The strategy works to ensure the protection of the City of Toronto's natural areas while offering safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities for all users. The Natural Environment Trail Strategy can be found here.
For more information about trails in Toronto visit: www.toronto.ca/parks/trails
41. Will the trail include additional by-law enforcement e.g. to reduce off-leash dogs and cyclists riding too fast?
Trail etiquette has been noted as an important issue. The City will continue to encourage safe and appropriate use of the trail through signage. Further efforts, such as public education campaigns and increased by-law enforcement, are beyond the scope of project. To report bylaw infractions, please contact 311.
42. Some trees in the East Don Valley lands have an orange dot on them, what does this mean?
Orange spray paint (usually in the form of a dot) on trees found within the East Don valley lands may be part of one of two programs: The East Don Trail Study detailed tree survey or the City of Toronto Emerald Ash Borer Program
A detailed tree inventory (survey) was undertaken during the East Don Trail Study, to inform the evaluation process used to select the preferred trail route. During the field surveys some trees were spray painted as reference points. For more information on the detailed tree inventory and how it was used during the EA process please refer to the Environmental Study Report - Appendix F.
Orange dots on trees may also be associated with investigations done as part of The City of Toronto Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) program. The EAB is an introduced insect pest from Asia that attacks and kills all species of ash trees. This invasive pest devastated ash trees in southern Ontario and parts of the United States since its discovery in Detroit, Michigan in 2002. The City of Toronto is managing the impact of EAB within Toronto through the following ways:
- Removal of dead and dying ash trees
- Insecticide treatment of selected ash trees
- Tree replacement and proactive planting
- Communication and public outreach
- Co-operation with both public and private sectors in the areas of research and development
For more information on Emerald Ash Borer in Toronto, visit www.toronto.ca/eab.