Moving Toward Remediation
The Taylor Massey Project
Institutional commitment to protect area water resources goes back
centuries, to at least the cholera epidemics of the early 1800s.
Modern efforts could be said to have started with the Boundary Waters
Treaty of 1909 and the formation of the Canada-US International
Joint Commission, with a specific focus on the Great Lakes.
Unfortunately, ill-informed government and social practices for
most of the twentieth century, particularly though the 1950s, allowed
the continued draining of wetlands and the hardening of watercourses
while we doubled and re-doubled the release of pollutants into our
While the 60s were dominated by broad social issues revolving around
the Vietnam war and both racial and sexual equality, the foundations
of environmentalism were laid during this decade in two benchmark
publications. The first, in 1962, was Rachael Carson's Silent Spring
, which alerted the public to the dangers of DDT and other pesticides.
The second, toward the end of the decade, consisted of images of
our small, blue planet floating in space: resilient and beautiful,
but self-contained and fragile.
By the 1970s, following the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment
and the publication that same year of The Limits to Growth by the
Club of Rome, the environmental management of the planet was established
as a legitimate and pressing scientific and social priority.
Locally, following the eutrophication of Lake Erie and the death
of its fishery around 1970, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
(1978) contributed the term "ecosystem integrity" to the
world, and called for "the restoration and maintenance of the
chemical, biological, and physical properties of the Great Lakes".
We're still working on it, spurred on the Love Canal, Elmira, and
Walkerton tragedies, and with renewed realizations about the values
of local forests, wetlands, and cornerstone natural features such
as the Oak Ridges Moraine.
In the meantime, over-arching terms such as natural heritage protection,
source protection planning, watershed management, pollution prevention,
wet weather flow master planning, and green infrastructure are becoming
increasingly understood by society and finding financial support
in the political arena. We have learned, hopefully, that protecting
the environment protects human health, and the human spirit.
As of 2004, Taylor Massey Creek stands to be the beneficiary of
several specific programs developed to help inventory, protect,
and improve the Creek and its watershed, including:
- The availability of data collected in a Natural Heritage Inventory
produced by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority;
- The City of Toronto's new Sewer-Use Bylaw, designed to regulate
the effluent emitted to sanitary sewers and to require that large
organizations have pollution prevention plans in place for both
their sanitary and stormwater effluent;
- The City's new Pesticide Bylaw, to be phased in aftre the end
of 2005, and to be accompanied by increased publicity for yard
naturalization, water conservation, and private-property tree
plantings, as well as through the standardize of City-wide Ravine
and Tree Bylaws; and, most importantly,
- The implementation of the City's Wet Weather Flow Master Plan,
a 25-year, $1B plan in which Taylor Massey will be the key focus
from 2008-2012, with somewhere between $60 -100,000,000 to be
allocated to the Taylor Massey Creek watershed. Elements of this
- The development of a Taylor Massey Creek sub-watershed
study, called for in 1992 in Forty Steps to a New Don, which
should be delivered by 2005 or 2006;
- Extensive infrastructure expenditures to eliminate combined
sewer overflows of raw sewage into the Creek as well as to
reduce the total flow of stormwater to the Creek (2008-2012);
- Guaranteed minimum expenditures for "green infrastructure"
watershed improvements, thanks in part to a motion suggested
by the TMP and passed by the City of Toronto. Green infrastructure
improvements include channel form naturalization, the elimination
of fish barriers, stream-edge plantings, and the possible
creating of new stormwater or habitat ponds;
- Increased enforcement activities to protect the Creek,
especially from illegal encroachments, outdoor storage, and
- Outreach to local residents to disconnect downspouts leading
to the Creek, as well as to engage them in local tree-planting
and other environmental efforts.
In short, the TMP has matured at just the right time, and offers
residents of the watershed the chance to be involved in and see
the restoration of a degraded urban stream right before our eyes!