The network of river valleys in the Greater Toronto Area provide wildlife with the four essentials of life – food, water, shelter and space – in an increasingly urbanized environment. The Bartley Smith Greenway initiative aims to enhance this function by improving water quality and restoring habitat while providing for the passive recreational interests of local residents. To realize and sustain such goals requires the collective forces of government agencies, municipalities, environmental interest groups, as well as the local business and residential community.
In 1993 the Don Watershed Task Force brought together representatives of these groups from across the Don Watershed to develop strategies for restoring the health of one of Canada’s most degraded urban rivers. A year later the task force produced a landmark report, Forty Steps to a New Don, which established the principles of caring for nature, caring for water and caring for community, then defined forty specific goals to address them. During the past decade restoration projects have taken place throughout the Don Watershed in Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. Here in Vaughan, the Bartley Smith Greenway concept, which includes the restoration of Rupert’s Pond and establishment of the Langstaff EcoPark and Keffer Marsh, has evolved from the vision and ideas set down in Forty Steps.
While Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA), the City of Vaughan and York Region take care of most of the “heavy lifting”, volunteers play an important role in the ongoing success and ecological health of the Greenway. Tree-planting and clean-up events are examples of community activities where individual citizens and teams from local companies make a big impact and develop a sense of stewardship. Adopting environmentally sound practices at home and in the work place also contribute to reducing the level of pollutants and contaminants entering the watercourse.
The Bartley Smith Greenway Steering Committee is always on the lookout for new Friends of the Greenway. If you would like to know more about volunteering, please Get Involved. To find out about what’s happening on the Greenway, look for announcements on our home page and check our Events Calendar.
Here in the News and Views section we will showcase local Vaughan businesses and residents who are making a commitment to looking after their local environment.