Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ravaged--2000 Trees lost at Woodgreen Ravine

Well its gone. The developers finally moved in with the 40 ton feller-buncher on Thursday and by the end of the day its massive blade had ripped through all two thousand trees at Woodgreen Ravine. The 4 year battle to save this young forested site in West Hill had come to an end.

Bruce Smith, Director responsible for the Advisory Board of the Manse Valley Community Association, was in disbelief that after such a long and valiant battle, machinery could clear cut such a large area in such a short period of time. In place of a forest, the land was littered with five acres of fallen trunks and branches waiting to be ground to sawdust.

Back in November, over 30 local residents had successfully braved nearly freezing rain at 7:30 in the morning to block the developers entrance to the site. Don York, President of the MVCA had just submitted a brilliant and devastating rebuttal to the staff report negating the the area's notorious water drainage problem. There seemed to be hope. There seemed to be time. But there wasn't. This time the developers arrived unannounced and all the community could do was watch, and cry.

The Ravine is a five acre site, located near Lawrence Ave. E. and Manse Road behind the new 43 Division Police Station. This wonderful site had more than 1200 trees, plus an additional 800 saplings, and many types of bushes and flowers. It was the home to abundant wildlife including white tailed deer, fox, raccoons and a wide variety of birds. It was both a resting and feeding ground for the monarch butterfly on its migration to Mexico. The Ravine was used by people of all ages for playing, walking, exploring, meeting, or enjoying the fruits of a huge blackberry patch.

All of this, however, has come to an end. The City of Toronto, as owners of the property, sold it to a developer for the construction of 60 affordable houses. The developer is now in the process of clear-cutting the site, and removing the top layers of soil so that not a single blade of grass will remain.

There had been many reasons to save this environmentally sensitive woodlot. In addition to being a community meeting place and treasure, and a home to birds and animals, the trees help act as a carbon sink removing pollutants from the air, helping moderate the air quality in the area. The Ravine borders on an industrial site along Coronation Drive with a large concentration of chemical industries. The area has been identified as having the fifth highest toxic chemical emissions in the City of Toronto.

With continued population growth, all wild areas are now precious but they are especially critical where, by some miracle, that wilderness can still be found the heart of a City of three million, the economic engine of an entire nation. In such a large city it is easy to loose sight of the fact that we are a part of nature. And now with the loss of Woodgreen Ravine, it will be harder still to hold onto that knowledge.

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