Water for streets, but not trees
Believe it or not, Toronto waters its streets more than its trees.
According to officials, 40 million litres of water is used to scrub the asphalt, about 2.5 times more than goes to nurture the trees planted on boulevards and in those godawful concrete boxes on downtown streets.
Transportation Services spokesperson Steve Johnston says the city's "committed to reducing water use in the next couple of years" by phasing out flushing -- that's when trucks outfitted with huge water tanks spray gunk off the side of the road into sewers.
He says there are also plans to pick up leaves and other garbage clogging the curbs using a new fleet of street sweepers. "This will reduce water use by approximately half."
No plan, though, for forestry workers to boost the watering of trees with those honkin' 3,000-litre tank trucks. For now, they're sticking to memorial trees and those in parks and most recently planted on residential streets.
Says urban forestry chief Richard Ubbens , "We're watering, but we're also trying to make use of the fact that many people are out there with their hoses and want their businesses to look good. We want them to help out."
We could save H2O by putting an end to the wasteful spraying of streets altogether. Isn't that what the rain's for? City tap dances on kids' studio
Those crusty neighbours.
A few weeks ago, a resident living near Kimbourne Park United Church in the Coxwell and Danforth area complained to the city that the Pegasus Children's Dance Centre studio, which has been running out of the church for 18 years, was jamming up the neighbourhood with traffic.
Now the city says Pegasus can't operate as a business in a residential zone. "Our whole outlook and goal is to provide a positive environment," says Pegasus fitness manager Briar Munro . "Now we're not welcome in the neighbourhood."
Area Councillor Janet Davis insists Pegasus hasn't been served with a cease and desist order, but that the planning and building departments are simply looking at what kind of zoning variance is needed. In the meantime, Davis says she will address parking issues on the street.
"The church has no parking lot, and as the activities in the church have grown, it's placed greater pressure on a neighbourhood that's already short of parking."
Planning manager Armando Barbini says zoning bylaws for the area, which go back to the early 1950s, are currently under review. Still, the reality is that churches across the city need the funds from community programs to keep their buildings up and running.
Kimbourne's Reverend Michael Cottrell says that both Pegasus and the East End Children's Centre, which runs a parent-child drop-in program there, contribute "what they can afford" to the 77-year-old church's $51,000 annual operating cost.
"If we didn't have a cost-sharing relationship, we would have to leave that part of the building vacant, and then the neighbourhood would have a three-storey vacant building," he says.
Church members, residents and Davis held a public meeting this week to discuss parking problems and a variance that would allow the studio to remain in the church.
The family-run business may have to spread its wings elsewhere. "It's disheatening," says Munro.