Friends of Sam Smith Park Speak Out Against Jets

Supporters of Etobicoke Park Urge Mayor, City Council to Stop Island Airport Expansion Wikimedia_Photo_Sam_Smith_Park_2014-06-24TORONTO - It's not just the central waterfront that's under threat from the jets. Etobicoke's waterfront will also be damaged by an expanded Island Airport, the Friends of Sam Smith Park emphasize in a recent letter to City Council and Toronto's Mayor. Colonel Samuel Smith Park is one of Toronto's newest and largest waterfront parks. Located at the south end of Kipling Avenue, this park has been ranked the number 3 spot to see birds in Toronto. But now this idyllic park and community space is under threat from the jets. Read the letter of the Friends of Sam Smith Park: Friends of Sam Smith Park (FOSS) is a community group of local residents and park users dedicated to protecting, enhancing and preserving the naturalized areas of Colonel Samuel Smith Park in South Etobicoke. We work closely with the City of Toronto, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and other local stakeholders as stewards and advocates for a better Future. For the park, its inhabitants and the community. Sam Smith Park is the jewel of the Lakeshore — a tranquil waterfront sanctuary of wetlands, woods, shore and meadow. It supports a web of life with a diversity of environments that provide food, habitat and protection for the many species of plants and birds and animals that pass through or call it home. The grounds also provide a restorative, stress-reducing element to the life of the residents of the Lakeshore communities and to the increasing number of visitors who are discovering this special City of Toronto park. As a group that is concerned for the future of this 78 hectare wildlife sanctuary, we are strongly opposed to the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport. The proposal to lengthen the East-West runway by 400 metres or 33 percent will cause an increased distance for take-off and landing by planes and jets. The park has the 3rd highest number of bird species, over 230, found in City parks throughout Toronto. In conjunction with the runway extension, increasing the allowable number of flights, the passenger cap and the peak hour cap will have detrimental effects on the migratory path of these birds, potentially driving them away and reducing the diversity of species in the region. Further, the infill required to complete the project will result in the displacement of waterfront habitats that surround the Toronto islands. The strain could subsequently cause an imbalance on other local ecosystems. The proposed plans will also have an effect on the enjoyment of the park for residents and visitors. Sam Smith Park has a history of being a therapeutic space. Once the home for the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, the grounds were operated and maintained by patients as a restorative process for healing. Today, the grounds continue to be occupied by organizations such as the lean Tweed Centre and The Gatehouse, operating their own respective healing programs. The expansion of Billy Bishop will bring more noise and pollution to the shores of the park, affecting residents, visitors and stakeholders. We urge all members of Council to oppose the plan to expand Billy Bishop Airport and focus on a cleaner waterfront that is better aligned with the vision of “A City within a Park”. Sincerely, Brian Keaveney President — Friends of Sam Smith Park