Our Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens (UFDGs) offer an amazing opportunity to enhance our urban forest and beautify available green spaces across Toronto. They have created partnerships amongst organizations and fostered a sense of communal ownership around our natural areas. Our garden at Spadina Station – Walmer Exit has been a perfect example of seeing these opportunities in action.
As urban dwellers, we often take tree canopies for granted, or assume that the grey concrete we work in is just the way life is. The hidden treasure of this city is in the people who take initiatives to bring positive change.
Street trees are often neglected and I have long felt that communities should take some responsibility for their care. In my neighbourhood, on Bayview Avenue north of Davisville subway station, there is a four-block commercial strip that thrives – but unlike the businesses, the trees aren’t doing so well. The west side is lined with trees in concrete planters but the east is presently without any greenery due to sidewalk reconstruction. The difference between the two is stark and so I decided to attempt a tree care project.
In the spring of 2010, I was volunteering at a LEAF table when someone from the neighbourhood approached me. She had noticed that the newly planted trees along St. Clair Avenue West were dying. Riding past that night, I saw examples of trees that had died brutal deaths: their trunks had imploded in the cold weather. I went home and wept.
On November 30, the Ontario Forestry Association wrapped up the UN’s International Year of Forests by having an evening film festival at the University of Toronto. In a large auditorium, I and about 160 other people watched 6 short films ranging from a documentary on towering Redwoods to the well-known NFB animation the Log Driver’s Waltz. The OFA touched upon many different connections people have with not only the forest, but nature as a whole, and educate other viewpoints at the same time.