Monday, 1 August 2022

Proposed Deaf/Blind Supportive Housing by Helen Keller Centre - for 150 Eighth St. !

If all goes well with the proposed new supportive housing complex on Eighth St. in New Toronto, then there will be a host of new DASSP members relocating near Sam Smith Park!

The 6 storey, 58 unit building would be completely accessible and deeply subsidized. Our local Councillor is completely supportive of this project.

For more information on the what the Helen Keller Centre has already built please see; 

Helen Keller Centre current housing

We can't wait to welcome all the new disabled residents to Sam Smith Park, and to DASSP!

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Creating a Bat habitat in Colonel Samuel Smith Park

DASSP has received some great news from Jessica Iraci, of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, as a follow up from our blog post in late October, regarding DASSP's suggestion of using Sam Smith Park as a pilot project for renewing Toronto's waning bat population.

A number of bat boxes will be placed in the park to help revive the once thriving little brown bat population that has been severely diminished over the last few years. Below is the note that DASSP received, and the work will be done over the next few months;

Urban Forestry has contracted the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to increase bat habitat in Sam Smith Park. This project is anticipated to be completed in Summer/Fall 2022. I would also like to thank you for your tireless work advocating for the natural environment in Toronto. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who may be interested. Background Ontario’s resident bat species have suffered tremendous losses over the last decade – their declines are largely linked to White-nose Syndrome in addition to habitat loss, collisions with wind turbines and pesticide use. Within the Province of Ontario, four species of resident bats are currently considered species at risk (SAR), this includes the Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis, Eastern Small-footed Myotis and Tri-colored Bat – all of which are listed as endangered. 

Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-colored Bats are the most likely species to be encountered within the City of Toronto. All 3 species have been observed between 1999-2019 within the City of Toronto. Currently, capture or observation of these species can be challenging due to dramatically depressed populations and their cryptic nature. 

Habitat loss is one cause of decline for these species that can be artificially augmented, the loss of forest cover and accessible anthropogenic roost locations (barns, attics, sheds) has increased with urban intensification. When natural or manmade resources are removed, absent or limited; artificial roost structures may contribute to population growth by providing suitable conditions to support maternity colonies of at risk bat species. Supporting and increasing the recruitment of juvenile bats into the breeding population is vital to maintaining and restoring our native bat populations. 

Site Selection Rationale 
All three species of at risk bats (Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-colored Bat) likely to be found in the City of Toronto generally associate with forested cover for roosting and can be reliant on man-made structures such as buildings, or associated structures to support maternity roost sites. Maternity colonies of Little Brown Myotis primarily use buildings or other man-made structures as well as tree cavities, the spaces under loose bark or rock crevices. Northern Myotis are known to use similar, natural and artificial roost sites. Maternity roost sites for Tri-colored Bats are not as well understood and tend to associate with clusters of dead or living foliage, or the underside of overhangs on buildings or other artificial structures. 

Factors that affect the productivity of bat box installations include sun exposure, proximity to a water source and open areas adjacent to forest cover which are productive for foraging. The attractiveness of a maternity roost site is largely dependent on temperature with hot, humid conditions (23.3° C to 34.4° C) being the most favorable. This is best achieved by placing boxes where they receive limited shading, particularly during morning hours. It is therefore advisable to place installations where southerly and/or easterly exposure is not heavily impaired by shading. Placing several roosting features within close proximity allows bats to choose the most preferential location, day to day, based on the subtle differences at each location and how they interact with the weather, lighting and seasonal conditions. The more suitable roost options that exist, the more likely attractive roosting habitat will be available on any given day. The proposed bat habitat installations are located to provide ideal maternity roosting sites. They offer easy access to forest, water sources and productive foraging grounds. They have relatively open surroundings but are in close proximity for forest edge. Relatively open, meadow habitat common through much of the southern portion of the park, combined with adjacent wetland and waterfront habitat should provide excellent foraging resources to support productive maternity roosts. 

While tree-mounted boxes are often considered less favorable for a number of reasons, they provide conditions that may be beneficial under certain scenarios such as extreme summer heat. In addition, they may also be used by male bats and juvenile females that are not rearing young. These are often installed in pairs to provide a wider array of conditions at each location. 

Proposed Work 
The TRCA, contracted by the City of Toronto, will install 2 bat rocket boxes and 4 tree-mounted bat boxes. This would provide ample artificial roost sites to support a significant maternity colony. The bat rocket boxes are four-sided, dual chamber boxes 45” in height. They are mounted on a 2-piece metal post which is set in a concrete footing. This creates an installation that is approximately 15’ high. Tree-mounted bat boxes are installed at approximately 4-5m in height along a south or east facing forest edge or on a stand-alone tree. This reduces the amount of shading they receive, and allows them to be more easily discovered than if the boxes are installed inside forest cover. Placement of the tree mounted boxes on the island will reduce the likelihood of mammalian predation and close proximity to productive foraging sites.

Monday, 30 May 2022

Inaccessible Tree and Shrub planting in Sam Smith's Warbler Woods

Earlier this month, a number of DASSP volunteers participated in the planting at Warbler Woods, across from the Pavillion in the park! The event was sponsored by Toronto Forestry and the TRCA.  

Unfortunately, DASSP was not notified by Toronto Forestry of a change in location, which differed from the flat, wheelchair accessible one agreed last summer.  When we arrived, the planting was completely being conducted in a rough area INSIDE Warbler Woods, which consisted of muddy ground with many branches strewn about limiting access, participation and enjoyment of the event, for physically disabled participants.

We were told of a "communications breakdown" resulting in lack of notification, but to date, we have not been advised by Toronto Forestry of how this happened, and what steps of remediation will be taken to ensure it does not happen again.  Obviously this is problematic and disheartening for our minority, as we are often subjected to being excluded in our lives, and our main goal is an inclusive park experience.

DASSP was listed in Toronto Forestry literature for the event, as a sponsor and promoting group. 

Hopefully, we will eventually hear back and be advised of what happened and receive assurances that this awful experience will not be repeated.

On the bright side, we were planting side-by-side with many developmentally disabled planters and helpers!  We planted many native trees and shrubs and hopefully all will be a great addition to the reforestation of this habitat within the park.

Many thanks to the DASSP members Vesty, Walt and Rob for turning out, as well as our new additions, Bob, Rob and Josephine, who did the majority of digging and ground work! 

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Green Toronto Tree Planting - May 11th 10am - Partnering with DASSP and FOSS

DASSP will be partnering with Green Toronto and FOSS,  for a tree planting of Native trees and shrubs, across from the Pavillion, near Warbler Woods.

Please register and join us !

Colonel Samuel Smith Park Planting Event

Wednesday, May 11 • 10 am - 12 pm

Join us for a morning of planting trees and shrubs at Colonel Samuel Smith Park. One of Toronto's most unique parks, it's known for great bird watching and a great waterfront view. Native trees and shrubs will be planted to enhance the forest understory and provide valuable habitat.
Event partners: Friends of Sam Smith Park and Disabled Allies of Sam Smith Park

Cancellation Policy & Site Information

An event will be cancelled if there is a greater than 70% chance of thunderstorm forecasted, or if hazardous weather arises. We will notify registered volunteers by email at 8 am on the morning of the event if there is a cancellation; however events may be cancelled at any time if needed. Please email if you're not sure if an event has been cancelled.

Planting and stewardship site conditions vary. Contact for information on site conditions including accessibility. If you would like to request accessibility support or accommodation, contact us as soon as possible.

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Woodlot Restoration - Removal of Invasive Norway Maple species, planting of Native species

Kaylyn, of Toronto Urban Forestry, has provided us an update:

"As discussed at our fall site meeting, this year we will be working to restore the lower portion of the woodlot north of the pond (see map below). The understory of this area has been heavily impacted by trampling, which has led to soil compaction, loss of understory vegetation and loss of overall plant diversity. A planting event is being scheduled to take place in spring 2022 to help replace understory vegetation and increase plant diversity. Prior to the volunteer planting event, our forestry field crews will take on some site preparation work, including woody invasive species management and installation of temporary fencing.   

Woody invasive species management will help prevent native plant species from being out competed by invasive plant species. This work will involve the removal of a number of smaller diameter stems, mostly Norway Maples, and approximately 17 invasive trees between 10-20cm diameter. Without management, Norway maples will crowd out and shade native vegetation and young trees, preventing understory vegetation from establishing. Pesticides will be applied directly to each individual cut stump to prevent them from aggressively re-sprouting.

Woody invasive removal work is anticipated to begin mid - February. Brush piles may remain on site for a few weeks until our vehicle is able to access this site for their removal (weather dependent). Fencing will then be installed in early spring prior to planting to discourage further trampling and allow newly planted material to establish.

The overall goal of this project is to restore the forest understory and  improve habitat conditions for birds and other wildlife. 

Native species to be planted this spring will include white pine, red oak, bur oak, serviceberry, dogwood, choke cherry and raspberry."

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Summer photos for a cold winter's day !

Here are a few pics from DASSP member Rob Lagacé, to warm your thoughts on this cold winter morning, before tonight's expected snowstorm...

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Happy New Year! Meet some of the folks at DASSP !!

On New Year's Eve, a few of us here at DASSP got together for a festive planning session going into 2022. We have a few interesting ideas for the upcoming year, so please stay tuned... In the meantime, this gives us an opportunity to indroduce 3 of the 5 current members of DASSP; 




Unfortunately, Helena and Cyril were not present.  We will all look forward to seeing and chatting with you in Sam Smith Park throughout 2022 !   Please keep safe.