New trails proposed for Leslie Street Spit

A public meeting was held on April 28 at the Fire Academy on Eastern Avenue to gather input on plans to construct a series of trails through the baselands in Tommy Thompson Park.

The baselands cover the area of the park southwest of the main entrance, bounded by Unwin Avenue and the Outer Harbour Marina access road.

The proposed project, a partnership between the City of Toronto, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and Waterfront Toronto, will see a path built between the parking lot and the Outer Marina Harbour access road. It will also connect a portion of the Martin Goodman Trail between the Unwin Avenue bridge and the bottom of Leslie Street.

A third group of trails would replace the current informal trails that have been formed over time by visitors.

A "rough" proposal diagram of the series of trails to be constructed in the Baselands of the Leslie Spit. Courtesy TCRA
A “rough” proposal diagram of the series of trails to be constructed in the Baselands of the Leslie Spit. Courtesy TCRA

According to a study conducted by the TRCA, there are currently 7 km of “ad-hoc” trails through the baselands. The proposed plan would replace those with 3 km of new trails.

Nearly 40 people attended the meeting, including local residents and bird enthusiasts. Most welcomed the idea but expressed concerns with the potential increased number of people walking through what is considered by many to be a very important bird area. According to eBird data, 187 species of birds have been recorded in the baselands.

John Carley, co-chair of Friends of the Spit, which has about 1,000 members, suggested that extra efforts be made to keep the footprint light and narrow, and keep dogs off the nature trails, a concern shared by many in the room.

Photographer and nature enthusiast Richard Sigesmund said that attracting casual walkers to the area may have a negative impact.

“One of the beauties of the Spit is the solitude – the lack of accessibility,” said Sigesmund. “When you see something beautiful you want to share it with people, you want to tell people about it. When you do, it tends to ruin everything that happens there.”

Waterfront Toronto is accepting comments from the public via an online survey.

The final design will be presented on Aug. 22 at the Tommy Thompson Park Butterfly Festival.

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