Waterlution in Toronto

Photo: Yvonne Suchislife

Do you know where your water comes from? That was one of the questions posed as Waterlution's 2008 workshop series came to Toronto this past weekend.

Participants were shuttled around the city to look first hand at current water issues facing Canada's largest municipal water system. Those involved came from various backgrounds in academia, public sector, and the working world with the notion that a multitude of perspectives might shed some light on the best strategies for water management. Toronto definitely has its share of issues to look at.

Visits were kicked off with a look at the recently completed 2500 square metres of new habitat constructed at a new public space at Spadina Head of Slip (where Spadina meets the lake). The purposefully marshy land is settling in nicely as evidenced by the two beavers that have evidently taken up residence and were out in full view. The initiative is part of Waterfront Toronto's inclusion of naturalization projects in its grand plans to redevelop the waterfront.

Toronto Water had its chance to show what it is doing in the way of stormwater management projects to clean up some of the water being discharged into the lake. There are several spots where what you might think is just a water ditch or pond for new condo buyers is actually being used to filter water as it makes it way down the watershed. After all, the end of the line where we dump all our waste water is in fact where we are drawing it to drink. Rest assured we are told Toronto's drinking water is completely safe but for those that are concerned about a specific issue with your home you can have your water tested free of charge.

Thinking of hitting the beach with the warm weather on our doorstep? Well if you plan on swimming you might be comforted to know that Toronto has six beaches that meet the stringent Blue Flag international criteria. While the cleanest beaches are located on the island, Woodbine and Cherry beaches are also great spots for a dip. I was a bit dismayed to learn that Sunnyside, perhaps the city's most popular spot- and a beach I swam in last year- has the biggest challenge in that the (relatively dirty) outflow from the Humber River flows right out near the beach and might not be the best spot for a swim. Interesting to note that it is closest to where the mayor lives and he has made it clear that he wants it cleaned up.

The event also featured a look at Evergreen's plans to redesign the Brick Works site, Toronto's green roofs (incentives have recently been upped!), and a stay over on the island at Gibraltar Point Retreat Centre.

All in all a great weekend and I would encourage anyone interested in participating in future workshops to find out more from the Waterlution website.

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