Mayor John Tory and Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park) marked Earth Day by highlighting the City’s $82.5 million investment in the Toronto’s Ravine Strategy.
“Toronto’s ravines are world-renowned and are a gem that lies within many parts of our city,” said Mayor John Tory. “That is why it is so important that we protect them and invest in them so that future generations can continue to enjoy them. Our City recognizes this and is investing $82.5 million this year alone.”
“This is all important work that needs to be done and we are working to support it as a city as much as we can,” added Tory. “The additional funding this year will make a real difference in our ravines. We wanted to highlight this investment today, on Earth Day, because it’s important that we all recognize that we are investing in our natural infrastructure and this is something that all governments should be focused on.”
The $82.5 million in funding for the Ravine Strategy includes:
- $12.4 million in operating funding through Parks, Forestry and Recreation—a 10 per cent increase from last year despite an incredibly tough 2021 budget due to the ongoing pandemic.
- $70.1 million in capital investments across numerous City divisions including Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Transportation Services, and Toronto Water as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
The increased investment in Toronto’s Ravine Strategy this year will allow for:
- Enhanced litter pickup in ravines and increased focus on addressing incidents of illegal dumping, activities that can seriously harm ravines. In 2020, City staff removed 74 tonnes of garbage and 14 tonnes of recyclable metal from 97 hectares of ravine land. Litter pickup will increase by about 30 per cent as a result of additional funding.
- Expanded invasive species management. In 2020, staff controlled invasive plant species over 234 hectares of ravine land. The extra funding will see staff manage invasive species over up to 300 hectares in 2021.
- Enhanced youth internships through the ravine youth team program which is a paid summer internship program for post-secondary students, offered in partnership with TRCA. The program provides work, professional development and opportunities for youth to build and expand their networks through a wide range of activities that support and contribute to the ravine strategy. Applications for the 2021 program will open soon.
- Additional capital projects that will improve well-used and well-loved trails and pathways and the overall user experience of Toronto’s ravine system, including the West Don Trail through E.T. Seton Park.
Ravines are a major part of Toronto’s green infrastructure, and along with parks and tree canopy, provide many environmental, health, and recreational benefits. They are a part of a larger watershed system, helping to filter and convey stormwater, enhance biodiversity, and reduce urban heat. Ravines also contain grey infrastructure, such as utilities and sewer lines, and some of the busiest roads and trails that help move people through the city, such as the Don Valley Parkway and Lower Don Trail.
“By investing in our ravines, we’re improving the environmental, social, physical, and mental well-being of our communities,” said Jennifer McKelvie, councillor for Scarborough-Rouge Park and chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee. “Toronto’s ravines are valuable natural infrastructure that act as sinks for carbon, purify our water, provide a home for many species, and create space for recreation. We’re so fortunate to be able to connect with nature in these beautiful corridors that have been carved down over generations.”
Unleashing the energy and resources required to achieve sustained impact requires that the City work collectively across diverse sectors including business, other public institutions, non-profit organizations, community groups, Indigenous groups, residents and community volunteers. Two key partnerships that will advance planning and activation in Toronto ravines in 2021 include:
- The Loop Trail, in partnership with Evergreen and TRCA, which will create a continuous, 65-kilometre multi-use trail, knitting together five Ravine Priority Investment Areas and 22 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.
- The Meadoway, a collaboration with the Weston Family Foundation and TRCA, which will transform a hydro corridor in Scarborough into a vibrant 16-kilometre stretch of urban greenspace, connecting Rouge National Urban Park to the city centre.
Key programs continuing this year include:
- InTO Ravines Program, in partnership with Park People, connects the people of Toronto to the ravines and builds the foundation for their long-term care through programs, events and funding. The program engages people who have not visited ravines before or experience barriers in accessing ravines, including Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. Applications for the InTO Ravines micro grants will open on Monday, May 3.
- The Young Urban Forest Leaders Program offers youth free mentorship and training in arboriculture and urban forestry. Funded in part in 2021 by the City, this LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) program seeks to support Toronto youth from underrepresented groups within arboriculture and urban forestry, including but not limited to women, non-binary people, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, LGBTQ+ people and racialized individuals. The program is expanding this year to offer a ravine-focussed session in the fall.
More information about Toronto’s Ravine Strategy is available here.