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We were just out with the dogs for our nightly walk. Around the corner and down the street on Lake Prominade, there were two ambulances parked. Someone coming from one of the properties on Lake Prom told us there was a sail boat that had run aground. There were a lot of sailboats out in the lake tonight. Wednesdays are apparently race evenings so quite a few boats were involved in racing. When we were out earlier with the dogs, around 7:00 PM we watched a sailboat come into the Yacht Club harbour in Sam Smith Park. It seemed to have a little trouble making the turn into the harbour and run the short stretch to shelter – but it did make it in OK.
The boat that ran aground must have lost control in the waves and high winds out there tonight. When we got to the park, we could see it stuck out there, not far from shore, listing dangerously. The person we talked to told us the crew is safe. She said paramedics went out into the lake in dry suits and rescued everyone on board. If that’s true, let’s applaud our paramedics for a fantastic job. From the park, we could see the boat clearly because another boat, perhaps a police boat, was shining a high powered light on on it. It looked like there was a line between the two crafts and we could see somebody aboard the sailboat. It appeared they were trying to free up the sailboat from the rocks. At the same time the rescue boat had to be really careful not to get too close and run aground itself.
From what we know, everyone is safe, and hopefully nobody gets hurt trying to save the boat.
A long-eared owl was photographed in Sam Smith Park the other day. Check it out at Friends of Sam Smith Park. For those not from these parts, we have two major parks near Long Branch where I live. As you go east, Colonel Sam Smith Park (also the home of Humber College) marks the end of Long Branch and the beginning of New Toronto, at least for those of us who insist on maintaining that old school identity. To the west, Marie Curtis Park marks the end of Long Branch and the beginning of Mississauga (or Lake View if we’re going to stick to the old school names)
Sam Smith Park is a great place. Sometimes when we go walking through the park, or along the lake, we can hardly believe we’re fortunate enough to live a short walk from there.
Yesterday between 6:00 and 6:30 pm, I was with the dogs in the dog park at the filtration plant, next to Sam Smith Park. I was talking to the owner of another Newfoundland who comes to the park when we noticed this helicopter getting lower and lower over the yacht club down by the water. It hovered for a minute and then landed. From where we were it was difficult to see exactly where it landed but it must have been either in the yacht club where the boats are wintered or in the field just to the east of that. We figured it was there on a rescue as it was one of the ORNGE helicopters. Shortly after, we heard sirens and then watched an ambulance followed in a few minutes by a fire truck and then a police car and then another fire truck. It turns out it landed because there was a problem with the helicopter and not to make a rescue. Fortunately everyone was safe.
The crisp clear afternoon has coaxed a lot of people in the neighbourhood outdoors. The toboggan hill at the filtration plant has hardly been in use this season for lack of snow, but enough came down the other day to create a marginal base. Marginal or not, there are several kids on the hill sliding on toboggans, sleds, and assorted chunks of plastic and cardboard. It’s great to hear the sounds of kids having a great time on the hill.
From the toboggan hill, you can see skaters on the figure 8 skate park across the field and across the road, in Sam Smith Park proper. I don’t know whose idea the skate park was, but it has turned out to be a very popular attraction to the park and to the Long Branch/New Toronto communities. I hear of people coming from across the city to skate there.
This winter, many of the regulars at the dog park on the filtration plant lands have turned to the new dog park at Marie Curtis Park for a better experience. The Marie Curtis dog park is on higher land and has a deep sand surface. Even after a rain, it is not muddy. Today the weather is perfect for the dog park at the R.L. Clark Filtration plant. That is, the ground is frozen and covered with a layer of snow – and it isn’t windy. As a result, there were a dozen dogs in there playing when I took Memphis and Ellie Mae out for some play and exercise. In the next day or two it’s expected to warm up and any thaw will turn the dog park into a muck-pit. Unfortunately, no plan was made to mitigate the muck when the dog park was conceived, even though the sogginess of the field was well known to all in the community.
We were at the dog park beside the filtration plant tonight and heard about another coyote sighting in Sam Smith Park, this one in the parking lot across from the dog park. Another was spotted recently at the skate park and another by the beach east of the yacht club.
I’m all for live and let live, but I confess to being a bit nervous.
What a pleasant weekend for November! Still, I know winter is very close at hand because they have been hauling the boats out of the water down at the yacht club. Last week I could see the top of the crane beyond the hill and the boats filling up the yard. The clocks have moved back but this morning, it was still dark when I took the dogs out. And with the time change, it’s going to be dark for the evening walk as well. Time to keep a little flashlight in my pocket or clipped to my cap.
Neighbours walking their dogs told us tonight a coyote was active over in Sam Smith Park. We walked through there with Memphis and Ellie Mae but didn’t see the coyote. Memphis picked us some scents she was very interested in but who knows, that could be anything. Another neighbour saw a coyote a couple weeks ago on the filtration plant land. Back in the summer, I saw one trotting along the sidewalk on Lake Prominade. It turned up 25th and by the time I got to the corner, had disappeared. The coyotes are around, but they seem to mind their own business.
With the generally cooler weather, our Newfoundlands have been more active. We see this with Ellie Mae in particular. A couple days ago, she was running around chasing and barking at other dogs in the dog park. Those readers who know Ellie, know that she likes to go out to the park, but normally lies down and simply watches the action, content to wait for people to come over to give her a pat. She was so unusually active, someone was heard to say, “Look at that…is that Ellie Mae?”
Each year in August there is a weekend festival down the street in Colonel Sam Smith Park, called Lakeshore Mardi Gras. Although we’ve been living in Long Branch for three years now, today marks the first time we’ve ventured out to the festival.
I confess I’m not thrilled with the odd appropriation of the term Mardi Gras for this festival. After all, Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday and refers to the celebration right before Lent. I think we all commonly use the term to describe the over-the-top pre-Lent festivities in New Orleans. However, I quickly got over that.
The Lakeshore festival is fun though, regardless of what it’s called. When we arrived with the dogs, a Zydeco combo called Loco Zydeco was on stage, complete with accordionist and frattoir player, and they sounded very good. We wandered around a bit. There was a dog rescue booth and an Etobicoke Humane Society booth, and we heard that earlier in the day, there were three other Newfie dogs there. The dogs were stars at the event. Lots of kids and adults too approached us and asked if they could pat the dogs, who were happy to enjoy the attention.
We stopped at the Baba Ali stand where I couldn’t resist a shawarma. Baba Ali is a falafel/shawarma place located on Lakeshore between 27th and 28th streets. I was happy to see their booth at the festival doing well, because not only do they make excellent food, they’re really nice people too. Past the food stands, there were rides for the kids set up, and it looked like everyone was having a good time.
Lakeshore Mardi Gras is a very worthwhile community event, and I’m glad we walked over there with the dogs. It was great to hear some live music and enjoy a snack and talk to a bunch of people too. Having two giant dogs is a great conversation starter.
We didn’t stay for the feature performers tonight as there was another place we had to be. It was the Five Man Electrical Band. Remember them? I hadn’t heard their name in years, but I sure remembered their hits, Signs and Absolutely Right and Werewolf. Friday night the festival featured another blast from the past, Chilliwack.
One of the delightful experiences living here in Long Branch is the rich bird life. When spring arrives, one of the first things I notice around here is the abundance of bird songs and cries. This morning I took the dogs out for their first walk of the day over to the water filtration plant and Sam Smith Park. There were several distinct layers of sound – birds out over the lake, on the spit, in the trees, on the ground. Nobody was about, just me and the dogs and the birds. It was a magical moment.
We arrived back home to the sobering discovery that one of our cats failed to keep his breakfast down. The was without a doubt Shadow. If he eats too fast or too much, the result is the same every time. I keep a spiral bound book of tunes I’m playing or learning or want to learn on the button accordion, and this was sitting on the desk beside the computer. Of all the places Shadow could choose, he vomited on The Broken Reed Polka. After yesterday’s heart-breaking accordion accident, this simply added insult to injury. Maybe this is some kind of omen?
Both my GCF diatonic boxes are out of the house right now. The Guerrini is in the shop for repair and my Corona II is out on loan to my student. I’ve started to learn the chromatic accordion, but I haven’t been putting as much time in with it as I should, mostly because I’ve been learning some new tunes on the GCF, as I’m thinking about doing some busking again soon. I guess now is a good time to bear down and really start getting used to the fingering for the C-system.
When I look at my site stats, I see that the most popular search terms landing people here over the past couple weeks have to do with the new skating path over in Sam Smith Park. I did a post about it while it was still in construction.
I haven’t skated for years, although when I did, I really enjoyed it. The skating path looks really nice, and there’s always quite a few people over there enjoying it. The other night, some of our family were visiting for Christmas and they went over for a skate. I see the skaters every day because the path is just across the way from the dog park. You might not notice that if you go at night because the skating path got all the lights and the dog park got none. We take flashlights in the hopes of finding what we need to pick up.
This reminds me that the dog park sure could use some kind of wind break. I bet the City has some old bus shelters kicking around. One of those would help a lot by protecting us from the howling north winds that whip down that corridor. There was talk that trees would be planted in the fall to help block the wind but as far as I can see, nothing happened. The dog park is popular and a great variety of dogs and their owners venture there daily. They built a really nice fence and put in a couple benches, but to be honest I’d be happier with an ordinary chain link fence if the money were spent on a bit of shelter instead.
Anyway, enough of me going on about a bus shelter. The point of this post is really to tell people who come in here looking for information about the skating path that it seems to be an idea lots of people really like. It’s located south of Lakeshore Blvd in Sam Smith Park, south of Kipling Ave.
The City has been building a fence at our local leash-free park at the R.L.Clark Filtration Plant. Some readers may recall the post I made on this subject some time ago on this blog. My position has been that the dog park is poorly located on the property. I think there are lots of good reasons to create a fenced area, but the City chose to locate the leash-free area squarely on a long-established commuter path. People who walk to the bus stop from 23rd St. cut across there because it’s the shortest path. Now that the fence is being built, it’s becoming obvious to commuters that they are going to have to walk around the fenced leash-free area because no gates are being installed to allow them to continue to use the established path.
I raised the issue on this blog on the same post that called attention to the gate that one of the local dog owners made months ago. The following comment appeared on this blog May 5 from Sheila Paxton, who identified herself as Councillor Mark Grimes’ Executive Assistant (in the same comment, she suggested that the City was responsible for the crude home-made gate built by one of the neighbours):
The city have everything to dow with the gate.
Following the community meeting several members of the public had suggested that the area be fenced in. Councillor Grimes suggested the gates.
The community was advised later that fences could not be put in till the spring but we would open the park immediately..
So now that we are putting the fences and gates in as promised you are implying its not the city doing it.
Well of course its the City .
Teh area will be fenced shortly and we will also be fencing and opening the park in Humber Bay Shores.
As to the area in the park where the dog park is , this is the area that was originally suggested by the community and was approved based on the location.
Executive Assistant to Councillor Mark Grimes
In my post I even took the trouble to post photographs of possible alternatives the City might consider. I was at a public meeting on the dog park back in the winter. When the topic of the location came up, there was no consultation. We were told that this was the only area the Filtration Plant folks would allow the park.
So, why am I raising this issue again? Yesterday evening, an angry neighbour approached me and said, “Are you the guy who advocated the fence here?” I explained my position – I think a fence is good, but I don’t think the leash free area is in the right place. I’m linking to my previous post today which outlined my position back in May. The problem is that the park was “designed” without consideration into neighbourhood issues. At the public meeting back in the winter, the City should have asked for volunteers – neighbours and users – to work with the planning folks to make sure all the issues were considered. I was at that meeting and I would happily have participated because this is a place I take my dogs Memphis and Ellie Mae to daily. I want it to be right. I don’t want to have angry neighbours, and I certainly don’t want them angry with me.
Now they’re building the fence, and the commuters are starting to get angry. When the students return to school, the issue will continue to escalate. Not only does the fence block the commuter path, it’s so arbitrary, it seems as if the planning folks never even looked at the space. There is a total of one tree in the whole field and they chose to fence 20 feet away from the tree, excluding it, and our make-shift bench from the park. As well, they are fencing off the park in such a way as to leave a large strip of unused land that could just as well have been included in the leash free area. It’s almost as if they had a pre-conceived size limitation and imposed it on the field.
My Councillor’s office was obviously not interested in the ideas I proposed about this leash-free area, either on this blog or by email. It will be interesting to see how much traction the complaints of commuters gets with The City. At the very least, they should put in gates that will allow commuters to cut through the park and continue to use the long-established pathway to the bus. Will they? It’s an election year, but I don’t even know if our current Councillor is running for re-election. I do know that when candidates come knocking on my door, I’ll be discussing what happened with this park. I’ll be asking if there is anyone willing to make it better, and I’ll be asking every candidate what they are going to do to improve public consultation on issues like this. I urge other voters in my area and across the City to do the same. Talk to the candidates. Tell them what you expect. Ask them how they will behave in office. Most of all, vote. We have mediocre municipal government in this city and I believe that we can improve that by participating in the election.