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  • Caroline Alphonso reports in The Globe and Mail about how Toronto Islands students have been displaced to school on the mainland, in Regent Park.
  • Robert Benzie and Victoria Gibson describe in the Toronto Star a new waterfront park in a revitalized part of Ontario Place.
  • Torontoist's Keiran Delamont notes how Metrolinx's sharing of data with the police fits into the broader concept of the modern surveillance state.
  • Steve Munro tracks the evolution, or perhaps more properly devolution, of streetcar service from 1980 to 2016.

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Toronto's HTO Park looks welcoming from a distance, and indeed it must be comfortable to be perched under the park's umbrellas on the sand. Get too close to the water, though, and you will find that Lake Ontario's flood has reached this beach, too. The seagulls seemed happy, granted.

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  • The Globe and Mail describes how the flooding of Lake Ontario is starting to impact buildings built near the waterfront on the mainland, like some of Toronto's new condos.

  • All of Toronto's beaches will be, CBC reports, at least partly closed on account of the flooding.

  • Lucas Powers' photo essay at CBC tracks the impact of flooding on the Toronto Islands.

  • Steve Munro continues his study of buses on Queen Street, noting that the frequency of buses needs to be increased to keep pace with streetcars.

  • Edward Keenan argues in the Toronto Star that Michael Ford's call for a study for Queen Street transit will reveal that streetcars are the better way.

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  • The New York Times' Michael Wilson tells the sad story of how a woman murdered in Harlem was only identified 47 years later.

  • In NOW Toronto, Gelek Badheytsang writes about the complexities surrounding the visit of the 17th Karmapa to Tibetan-heavy Parkdale.

  • Novak Jankovic writes in MacLean's that there are real declines in the Toronto real estate market, but not enough to set a trend.

  • The Toronto Star's Jackie Hong reports that protecting Bluffer's Park from the waves of Lake Ontario could also wreck an east-end surfing haunt.

  • The National Post reports on how the Ontario NDP claims, probably correctly, that the Wynne Liberals are stealing their ideas. Good for them, I say.

  • Universe Today's Matt Williams notes a study reporting that life on Mars' surface is a much greater risk factor for cancer than previously thought.

  • Seth Miller argues that efficient electric cars will push Big Oil through the trauma of Big Coal in the 2020s.

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  • Peter Goffin reports from the hauntingly empty Toronto Islands during their time of flood.

  • Edward Keenan, also in the Star mourns for Torontonians who will spend most of the summer, at least, without having the Islands.

  • Alison Gzowski, a resident of the Toronto Islands, writes for The Globe and Mail about how the flooding reminds her of nature's power.

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  • USA Today provides an American perspective on the increased risk of flooding from Lake Ontario, in upstate New York.

  • Global News notes that the Toronto Islands are now effectively off-limits to visitors until the end of July.

  • Toronto Life shared Daniel Williams' stunning photos of the flooded Toronto Islands.

  • Inside Toronto notes that many people are still going far too close to the unstable Scarborough Bluffs.

  • The Toronto Star noted that the marina at Bluffers' Park is facing flooding.


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  • The Globe and Mail examined the unique real estate market on the Toronto Islands, with lower places but also restrictions on buyers.

  • The Toronto Star reported that carp have taken over the baseball field at Gibraltar Point.

  • The Toronto Star reports on a peacock that has escaped Centreville Farm to become the islands' mascot.

  • The National Post reported on how the Toronto Islands' businesses have all been shut down by the flooding.

  • blogTO noted that Water Taxi Now is offering tours of the flooded islands.

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When I went down to the Lake Ontario shoreline last month to take in Ice Breakers, the Waterfront BIA's winter public art, I should have known that the effects of the works would have needed a winter. In that the weather this winter really hasn't been very winterish, I was let down. This is not the fault on the part of the artists and architects involved: Leeward Fleet, pictured in the first two photos, remained evocative despite the cold spring weather, I can see how the zebra-striped Incognito and the Icebox at HT0 Park would have worked with a bit of snow coverage, the two waving hands of Tailored Twins have an endearing whimsy, and Winter Diamonds would have been superb surrounded by a field of snow at Music Garden Park. It's just that the weather let these works down.

Leeward Fleet, by RAW


Leeward Fleet, by RAW, against the condos


Incognito, by Curio Art Consultancy and Jaspal Riyait


Inside the Icebox, by Polymetris


Outside the Icebox, by Polymetris


Tailored Twins, by Ferris + Associates, across the street


Tailored Twins, by Ferris + Associates, from the west


Winter Diamonds, by Platant
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Green Lawn, Kew Gardens Tennis Club


Just metres from the cold waters of Lake Ontario, the fields of the Kew Gardens Tennis Club were greening already on the 24th of February.
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Friday afternoon, I visited Woodbine Beach for the latest iteration of Winter Stations. I found myself paying as much attention to the beach. On that day of what I suppose is now late spring, the foggy sky melded with the cold Lake Ontario waters and the moist sandy. The horizons were endless.

On Woodbine Beach (1)


On Woodbine Beach (2)


On Woodbine Beach (3)


On Woodbine Beach (4)


On Woodbine Beach (5)
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The Toronto Star's Evelyn Kwong reported early this morning bout yesterday's record-breaking temperatures. Today was cooler, as predicted. Walking by Lake Ontario down at Woodbine Beach this afternoon, this late February day felt like a cool spring day.

Torontonians enjoyed an especially balmy day Thursday, but it wasn’t just a record high for Feb. 23; it was the warmest February day on record.

Spring temperatures soared to 17.7 C by early afternoon, before cooling down to 12 C closer to the evening.

The previous record for the warmest day ever in February was set last year on Feb. 3 with a high of 16 C. Weather records for Toronto started in 1938. The temperatures also shattered a 33-year-old record high of 14.9 C for Feb. 23, set in 1984.

On Friday, temperatures are expected to dip down back down to a high of 6 C, which is still over the average temperature for February. There will be a 30-per-cent chance of rain and drizzle, and possible thunderstorms.
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The Toronto Star's Ellen Brait describes an unusual mirage, an manifestation of Toronto in the skies above Buffalo one hot summer day in August 1894.

Buffalo residents were treated to an unusual sight on Aug. 16, 1894: a detailed image of Toronto hovering over Lake Ontario.

Or rather, “a city in the air,” according to a November 1894 Arizona Republic newspaper article.

For about an hour during the mid-morning, Toronto, its harbor, and the Island to the south of the city were visible to those on the ground in Buffalo. Normally Toronto is only visible to those high up over Buffalo.

“A close examination of the map showed that the mirage did not cause the slightest distortion, the gradual rise of the city from the water being rendered perfectly,” said an August 1894 edition of Scientific American magazine.

Despite being approximately 93 km away, witnesses on that fateful day could see a few ships, and for the first 10 minutes, even count downtown church spires.
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blogTO's Derek Flack reports on the plans for the construction of a massive retail centre in east Toronto, by the mouth of the Don in the East Harbour area.

The plans for what's known as East Harbour have been in the works for some time, but only recently has the full scale of the project come to light in the wake of supporting documentation filed with the city. It reveals that beyond the transit and commercial priorities of the development, the retail component is going to absolutely huge.

Well, to step back for a moment, everything about this project is huge. Set upon some 60 acres of land, it would represent one of the largest master developments Toronto has witnessed. The proposed transit hub would integrate GO train lines, a streetcar route, and possibly a relief subway line if we ever get such a thing built.

Right now, there's 11 million square feet of office space proposed for the site, spread over a number of towers. Yes, that's right. This isn't more condos. On the contrary, this is the place where developer First Gulf hopes that residents in places like the East Donlands and Bayfront will come to work, eat, and shop.
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Torontoist's Nikhil Sharma takes a look at the state of pollution in Toronto harbor, and Lake Ontario generally.

The Toronto region was designated an area of concern by Environment Canada in 1986. In particular, the government noted issues with Lake Ontario: “Overflows of stormwater mixed with raw sewage are a serious problem following heavy rains in the lower portions of the Don and Humber Rivers and along the waterfront.”

Forty-three areas—12 of which are Canadian—have been identified as having high levels of environmental harm under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the U.S.

For some local environmental groups, that’s a concern.

According to a survey done by environmental advocacy group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, out of 166 water samples collected from the city’s harbour last summer, a third failed to meet federal standards for safe boating and paddling.

The group made 10 sampling trips between July 15 and September 27. Samples were taken and tested for the presence of E. coli bacteria at Bathurst Quay, Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre, and the marina by PawsWay.

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper founder and president Mark Mattson says the Toronto Harbour is not monitored regularly, so his group did their own monitoring program. He says Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is encouraging the City to monitor other areas of the waterfront where there aren’t beaches.
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CBC News' Laura DaSilva reports on ice swimming in Toronto. This actually might have some appeal for me.

While most people in Toronto are bundling up in parkas, trying to keep warm, others are stripping down to Speedos and jumping into Lake Ontario.

Ice swimming, also known as winter swimming, is an extreme sport gaining popularity across the GTA and around the world.

And we're not talking quick dips. It involves distance swimming in water 5 C or colder.

Why?

"It's invigorating," said Hamilton-based ice swimmer Loren King. "It makes you feel alive."

King, who also teaches political science at Wilfrid Laurier University, started diving into frigid Lake Ontario a few years ago to prepare for a swim across the English Channel. "I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the changes in temperature."

Then he was hooked.
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  • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.

  • blogTO notes that Toronto's waterfront has major E Coli issues.

  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.

  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.

  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.

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Derek Flack's blogTO photo essay uses old maps and photographs to examine the way that Toronto has reclaimed large amounts of Lake Ontario as land.

You don't need many photos to demonstrate the dramatic change the Toronto shoreline has undergone over the last 200 years. Unlike the gradual development of the city's skyline, the expansion of Toronto's land mass into the lake has come in huge spurts.

Going back to the early 19th century, Toronto was every bit a waterfront community. You would have been able to see the lake from pretty much everywhere. As the 20th century neared, however, the first reclaimed land pushed the shoreline south as the city also grew north. Looking at images from 1818 to 1893, you can see that much of the land south of Front St. didn't exist when the city was first settled.

The big change, however, took place in the 1920s when the Harbour Commission actively filled in a huge chunk of the original harbour, creating much of the city that exists south of the Esplanade and Union Station. The difference between the shoreline in 1918 and 1938 is, in a word, remarkable.

In the period of about a decade, the city had grown by 500 metres south. Much of this land was completely empty when it was first created, but it wouldn't take too long before the city grew upon it.
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The Globe and Mail hosts Daniel Rotsztain's article looking at how Toronto Islands, particularly in the area of Gibraltar Point, is facing an existential crisis due to the threat of erosion.

Cradling the city’s harbour like an outstretched hand, the Toronto Islands are more than a place to escape the city – they are the very reason the city exists at all.

Always a gathering place for First Nations, John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor of Canada, also recognized the benefits of a protected bay. He laid Toronto’s nascent grid in a nook where the islands – then a peninsula – connected to the mainland in a vast marsh just east of the Don River.

The settlement was safeguarded with a garrison (Fort York) at the narrow opening of the bay to the west and a stone lighthouse at the peninsula’s tip. As tensions simmered between Upper Canada and the United States, Simcoe named the point Gibraltar to evoke the protective force of the massive rock that guards the comings and goings from the Mediterranean Sea between Europe and Africa.

But Toronto’s Gibraltar is a far cry from its namesake monolith. The peninsula-cum-island, created from currents of sediment deposited in the lake from the Scarborough Bluffs and Don River, was – until Depression-era infill projects – a constantly shifting sandbar, changing shape and form with each season and storm.

Historic manipulation of Toronto’s dynamic coastline has put the islands’ beaches at risk of being washed away. Stabilization of the Scarborough Bluffs, cliffs created by erosion, and the filling in of marshes to create the Port Lands have cut the islands off from their replenishing sources of sediment. And the construction of the Leslie Street Spit has blocked what little sediment does end up in the lake. They are part of years of major waterfront projects done before the words “environmental assessment” entered the bureaucratic vocabulary.

“And if no action is taken, Gibraltar Point could sever into two within 20 years” says Ethan Griesbach, project manager at Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
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Torontoist carries a post from Catherine McIntyre, writing for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, looking at the revival of local fisheries.

Some of the best fishing is in our back yard.

Two young anglers, each no more than 12-years-old, wade in the creek with their fishing rods as the sun breaks through the last of the rain clouds. It’s spawning season for Chinook salmon and the kids, along with hundreds of other community members, have congregated near Highland Creek for the seventh Annual Salmon Festival, where they hope to catch—at least a glimpse of—the fish swimming upstream.

“It still amazes people that there are salmon in these rivers,” says Arlen Leeming, a manager at Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). “It wasn’t always like this,” he adds, as we walk along a deer path near the riverbed. In fact, 200 years ago, the waterways that feed into Lake Ontario were teeming with native fish populations. The Atlantic salmon was so abundant that inmates at the Don Jail eventually refused to eat any more of the fish, caught fresh and frequently on the prison premises.

In the decades that followed, industrialization, urbanization, and neglect lead to polluted waterways and the demise of many fish populations, including Atlantic salmon. In 1969, the Don River was ceremoniously pronounced dead; other nearby rivers were scarcely healthier. By 1985, the Toronto region was dubbed an “Area of Concern”—an environmental hazard zone—on the Great Lakes.

Since then, the TRCA has helped carry out myriad projects to boost the health of Toronto’s rivers and creeks and restore fish habitats. In 1987, the Toronto and Region Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was formed as a means to set goals and monitor progress around restoring the health of Toronto’s waters, particularly those that feed into Lake Ontario. The most recent progress report [PDF], released this October, highlights immense improvements in the quality of waterways and the species that live there. There have been huge reductions in E.coli counts near the waterfront, resulting in a steady decline of beach closures; the rivers along the waterfront, once thick with a greasy film, now run clear; new and restored habitats for migration, spawning, nursery, feeding and shelter have bolstered species diversity and health in the rivers and the harbour; and fish-eating wildlife are no longer at risk from contaminants.

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