Toronto’s parks are transforming to appeal to animal lovers — and it turns out there are a ton in this city. First, the Berczy Park Revitalization features man’s best friend and now, the same architect said he may create a cat-themed park near Front St. West.
Berczy Park/Plaza is centered around a giant tiered fountain surrounded by 27 dog sculptures. These puppies shoot jets of water out of their mouths into the fountain towards the giant golden bone sitting at the top of the structure. There is plenty of seating space and enough greenery for families, and their canine friends, to roam.
The trees were planted using Silva Cell technology, a suspended pavement system that supports large trees while providing storm water management at the same time. This allows Toronto to support the growth of plant life in an urban setting.
The fountain within Berczy Park has received a lot of attention in the media. While some people love the quirky concept, others feel it isn’t sophisticated enough for this city. Either way, people have crowded around the fountain day and night (it lights up when the sun goes down) to enjoy the public space. It creates a fun and whimsy atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else in Toronto.
That is until architect Claude Cormier gets his hands on the mega development at Front and Spadina.
It is rumoured that Cormier has a plan for a cat-themed promenade. There are few details available. The only information publicly available is that Cormier will work with the other developers and architects to create a new green space as part of the mixed-use project…and that feline sculptures may be involved.
Not everyone will be thrilled with this concept, but honestly, anything that creates a space for people to enjoy each others company in the outdoors is a win for Toronto.
What do you think? Would a cat-themed park be welcome on Front and Spadina?
Toronto is growing to be an environmental city with greener buildings, more emphasis on city cycling, and vegan restaurants popping up everywhere.
Alongside the new green trends sweeping across the urban landscape, apps that focus on sustainability and green initiatives are gaining in popularity as well. From biking apps to basic trading, there are many different ways to engage with your digital environmentalist side. Women’s Post has compiled a short list of interesting and revolutionary apps below:
BIKO is a new cycling rewards app that recently launched in Toronto after having success in Bogota Columbia, Mexico City, Vancouver. For every kilometre cycled, the app will give one ‘biko’ point. Potential prizes you can receive with these ‘biko’ points include free coffees, beer, helmets, cycling parts, and discounts at partnering restaurants. The rewards are relatively easy to obtain, especially if you are a commuter cyclist, as exemplified by a free Jimmy’s coffee that costs 10 Biko points. The app also offers cycling maps across the city and you can record your cycling routes to share with other friends who use the app.
This cycling app is useful for beginner cyclists and offers several links to cycling maps in Toronto, biking rules, and bike stores where equipment is offered. It also offers cycling paths specific for families, road and commuter paths, and safe paths for women to travel on at night.
Bunz is a community sharing app where you can trade an item in exchange for another. The app is extensive and offers trades for items, a chat link to let people know about events in the city, job offers, and helping people with volunteer opportunities. It is a great way to connect into Toronto’s urban community and to find anything you need without an expensive price tag attached.
Live Green Toronto is an app that uses an interactive map to help people living in the city find green businesses easily, while updating to find the best ‘green deals’ available. Live Green also pledges to plant a tree every time 20 deals are claimed, which is a positive initiative towards living green in the city. It also provides green business owners with a way to reach more customers through the app.
The Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide is a fantastic fit for nature lovers who want to teach themselves and their families about the various types of plants and trees in Ontario. It provides information on how various plants and trees grow in each season, and whether they are edible or not. A few of the plants including burdoch, willow, yarrow, and birch. It offers pictures of the plant and where to spot it as well. Definitely a cool app for people who love looking for plants and trees in the forest.
There are many sustainable apps and these are a few options that are specifically being used in the Toronto area. Whether it be cycling, re-using items, or hiking in the forest, trying to engage in as many environmental activities when living in a large city is essential to keeping the world clean!
Which are your favourite green apps in Toronto? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.
Where do you go if you want Tibetean vegan momos, pants made out of tree fibres, and lectures about how cannabis can help you heal?
The Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is one of the largest environmental events of the year, featuring organic and delicious food, exercise, and how to build sustainably among many other things. It is a festival that takes all things green and turns it into a massive trade show in support of an environmentally friendly world. The festival provides an opportunity to network, share, and learn about how many industries are involved in the ‘green’ trend that is growing in popularity every year.
So, how was the Green Living Show compared to last year?
It was definitely better for one main reason; the food! This year, the food pavilion had a centralized theme of ‘around the world’ fare. It had a range of options and also specified foods that were vegan and vegetarian, which was a fresh change of pace. The previous year, I struggled to find vegan options and this was frustrating at a green festival. The beer options were impressive as well, with a wide variety of craft brews, wines and ciders available.
The emphasis on medical cannabis was a new development, probably due to impending legislative changes around marijuana in Canada. The Green Living Show hosted the Weedmaps speaker series about Cannabis. The topics discussed by the panel included understanding which strains can help certain ailments, how to understand current marijuana laws, and how to cook medicinals. The Green Living Show is the perfect venue to educate and discuss the future of cannabis in Canada and its medial relevance, which is a very hot ‘green’ topic at the moment.
Another educational panel attended by Women’s Post was the urban farming speaker series that brought out Aquaponics start-up Ripple Farms, Holly Ray Farms, Orchard People, and Toronto Urban Growers, moderated by David McConnachie of Alternatives Journal. The panel explained various ways that urban farming can be implemented in the city. There were several vendors selling products related to indoor or urban farming, including sprouting containers and even indoor mini-hydroponic systems.
There were some return favourites as well, including the classic Canadian green car awards (Cheverlot Bolt won) and the beautiful set-up celebrating tree stewardship in Ontario.
The Green Living Show is an annual favourite of Women’s Post. The sheer size and popularity of the event really shows how much the green lifestyle is growing. It would still be nice to see more specifically vegan food options and vendors, but kudos to the ones that were there (including Live Wild Love Free). It will be exciting to see what happens next year.
What was your favourite part of the Green Living Show? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.
One of the best ways to educate yourself about environmentalism is to read as often as possible. There are many talented writers who are experts in their field and able to provide detailed accounts about various environmental issues while still making them interesting to the reader. Knowledge is one of our greatest weapons, an integral tool to tackling, and understanding, the world’s problems.
Here are a few recommended books about issues in the environment that will leave you determined to save the planet:
Silent Spring is a ground-breaking historical environmental read that was written by scientist Rachel Carson in 1962. The book followed several lawsuits in the United States about the effects of DDT, chlordane, dieldrin and other non-banned substances and their effects on humans and wildlife. It caused an uproar and 10 years later, led to DDT being outlawed in the country. The success of creating protectionist environmental law saved several species including bald eagles and hummingbirds. Carson is an acclaimed author as well due to the fact that though the content of the novel is heavy, it still reads as a well-written novel.
This book discusses the six key principles of the animal rights abolitionist movement, which is centred around the idea that owning animals as property is inherently wrong and only serves to make the public feel better about using animals. It also emphasizes that veganism is the only way to be a real animal rights activist. Gary L. Francione and Anna E. Charlton are both celebrated animal rights lawyers and have led the way in bringing animal rights law education to the forefront in training lawyers the legal means to rights for animals. Francione was the first person to bring animal rights law to academia in the United States in 1989.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walden is a poetic account written by Henry David Thoreau that describes his deep love of nature. It was written over a period of two years, two months, and two days in 1854 and is an account of Thoreau’s spiritual, and transcendent journey of living in nature and solitude. Thoreau’s descriptions of nature have been used time and time again in environmental movements because of their absolute beauty and clarity. He does an amazing job at helping people understand why humans need and rely on nature.
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
Melanie Joy brings an important novel about the reasons why people have certain animals as companions and other animals are used as property in various ways. By understanding the societal implications of doing so, it helps people understand why these differences are inconsequential and driven by immoral factors.
Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet by Todd Wilkinson
Ted Turner is a talented environmental journalist who has written for almost every major environmental publication in North America. Wilkinson has written a biography of Turner, and leads the reader through the life of the media master. Turner ending up marrying Jane Fonda and also tried to repopulate over 2 million acres of property with bison and prairie dogs.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben
There is a possibility that trees can communicate with each other, care for the saplings that are borne from their roots, and help their sick family members. Wohlleben brings that reality to life through the imaginative and eye-opening exploration of the life behind trees. This book will change the way you look at trees forever.
What are your favourite environmental novels? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below!
Amidst many struggles in Toronto, maintaining parks often falls by the wayside. Unfortunately, the neglect of public parks leaves grassy open areas scorched and littered in garbage.
Despite budget cuts, a struggling transit portfolio, and an affordable housing crisis, the city parks are drying up. Canoe Landing in downtown Toronto is a prime example of neglected public park space. The park consists of weeds that have taken over the fields, broken benches, and fountains without water. Though taking care of parks in a large city is a hefty task, there are solutions to creating beautiful parks and it begins with an adequate budget. If Mayor John Tory sincerely wants to build the new Downtown Rail Park that was revealed last month, then a concrete budget is needed for all of Toronto’s parks first.
Parks and recreation have a budget that includes an annual grant into the Toronto Parks and Tree Foundation (TPTF). The grant subsists from public donations and the city will match the donation. For every $2 donated, the city will contribute $1 and raise funds for parks, but this relies on public interest. Along with this budget, Section 37 contributes limited income to the parks. This provincial regulation allows developers who want to exceed zoning laws in their building to donate a certain amount of funding to public projects in exchange for permission. If a councillor so desires, the funds can be allocated to parks, but it isn’t mandatory and a lot of public projects are in need of funding. With limited budget from the foundation and Section 37, the parks don’t have enough funding to be properly maintained, instead becoming an eye sore in the hot summer months.
Instead of fixing Toronto’s current parks, city council announced an expensive and vast 21-acre downtown Rail Park that will cover the tracks in downtown Toronto. This is an amazing concept, but until the money suddenly appears, it seems it may merely be a pipe dream. The downtown park has been met with a lot of criticism because of the lack of money available, and appears to be yet another way of trying to distract people in Toronto from the lack of current care to parks in the city.
There are a few solutions. One is to use water runoff from condo buildings in the city to hydrate the parks. Reallocating spare water resources would keep the parks healthy and provide free carbon sinks around Toronto. Another resolution is to appoint park managers to help care for individual parks across the city. This would simultaneously maintain the parks and provide ‘green’ employment in the city. In Central Park in New York, a private conservancy runs the park and it is well maintained as a result. Providing an incentive for private companies to invest in parks within their ward or region would help invigorate communities to help protect those green spaces. To an extent, Dundas Square is supported by private investors. It has a board of management with business entrepreneurs and city officials that work together to make sure the area is clean and sustained.
Parks are integral to a healthy city landscape. They provide a place to frolic for children and adults alike, and give clean air to residents. Parks also promote a sense of community and they are beautiful. Imagine a world without trees — it seems like a pretty empty and disgusting place. It is our duty to care for our parks and pressure the city to care as well.
Have you seen any parks that aren’t properly maintained? If so, please let us know at Women’s Post in the comments below.
The Metro Convention Centre was an environmentalist’s paradise this past weekend, packed with green vendors, discussions about important issues and electric cars ready to be test-driven.
The Green Living Show was held from April 15 to 17 and was packed full of green enthusiasts. The decor was clean and crisp, with several green plants dotting the venue. It was a large indoor show to navigate and it kept my daughter and I busy all day. There was a lot to see at the show and among my favourites were the presentation of the Canadian Green Car Award, Every Tree Counts, and the Ecoparent Village. There were also several delicious samples offered by different food vendors to keep us energized throughout the day.
As an environmental buff and a deep hater of the car, the Canadian Green Car Award was the highlight for me. The winner of the 2016 Canadian Green Car Award, an award given to the best plug-in hybrid available on the market, the Chevrolet Volt. Other winners on display were the Nissan Leaf for the best battery-electric car, and the Hyundai Sonata for the best hybrid.
We got to explore the Nissan Leaf further, which was on display in the plug n’ drive area. Guest attendees could practice plugging the vehicle in to the charging station. It was a nice ride, and had a slick black interior. The vehicle was indiscernible from a regular vehicle aside from the front where the electric charger is plugged in. It was fun to take pictures in the car and see its features up close and personal.
There were several great products for women in the show. One of the most interesting companies was Damiva, who provided a lubricant for vaginal dryness of menopausal women. The product has no hormones and is an organic alternative. Another one of my favourites was NudyPatooty, a shirt made with organic bamboo that can be worn under silk shirts to avoid sweat stains, which is a very innovative idea. It would be the perfect solution for those nervous presenters who are concerned about ruining that silk blouse at a business meeting.
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After a bit of shopping, my daughter and I stopped at the EcoParent village. It was a nice reprise from walking and conversing with vendors, which can become monotonous for children. This area provided Montessori-sponsored toys for kids to play with and it was a hit with my little one. The wooden puzzles and games are a refreshing type of play, and brought me back to the good-old days pre-iphone and gameboy. There was also colouring and crafts. The area was quite small, but it was nice to see organic toys available for the kids.
The Green Living Show emphasized on the importance of trees in Ontario. Several booths were dedicated to protecting trees and the importance of planting. There was a large area called “Every Tree Counts”, which taught adults and kids about the importance of parks and trees. Tree planting is often forgotten amidst larger issues such as cap and trade or snazzy new organic products, so this was a smart addition to the show.
The only disappointment was the food area, dubbed the Pollinators’ Plate Food & Drink Pavilion. There was only one vegan option. The Grow-up was provided, which is a delicious vegan eatery but the rest of the food was laden with dairy and meat products. At an environmental festival, I expected more than one vegan alternative. To be limited to one choice definitely didn’t suit the theme of the afternoon. There was also a display of live bees in a slim glass case at the front of the food area for people to look at. Bees are easily stressed in lighted areas when creating honey in the hive and this was not the most animal-friendly decision on the part of the organizers.
The Green Living Show was definitely worth a visit to find cool sustainable products, listen to environmental discussions, and look at the newest electric car market. The show itself demonstrates how mainstream the discussion about the environment is becoming. Gone are the days of backyard granola talk. Instead, big stakeholders are looking into the future of financial and moral gain and, as it so happens, it’s green.
I doubt anyone could point to just one feature that makes a city a great place to live, instead a great city depends on thousands of small parts that collectively make it a success or a failure. Toronto has some terrific features but also some big challenges. We sit beside a huge fresh water lake, but because of our location climate change has a harsh impact on us — from ice storms to floods — and scientists are predicting that extreme weather conditions will increase. Toronto must look for ways to fortify our city for the weather to come, and for the increase in population that is expected.
But let’s get back to one of the small features that cities around the world are using to improve the quality of life for their residents — Trees. Not only do trees improve air quality, produce oxygen, and combat the greenhouse effect, they cool the streets, conserve energy and save water. Given all the positive impacts of having a large and healthy urban tree canopy (over 50% coverage) where does Toronto sit in comparison to other cities in North America?
Below are the top ten cities in North America and their percentage of tree and bush coverage:
1. Atlanta -52%
2. Nashville – 49%
3. Pittsburg – 42%
4. Halifax – 41%
5. Albuquerque – 38%
6. Washington D.C – 36%
7. Minneapolis – 34%
8. Tampa – 32%
9. Austin – 31%
10. Portland – 30%
Toronto isn’t even on the list of top ten, but we sit at a measly 26% tree coverage — we can and should do better!
Trees by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.