Don Mills may be the country's first planned community, signs up and down Don Mills Road proudly proclaim it, but up here, on the Eastern Don Parklands north of York Mills, it's a bit of a mess.
Much of what was once a large intact forest has been uprooted, forced hither and yon by condos and circa 50s, 60, and 70s high rises. Industrial park purgatories provide the nature-destroying backdrop.
What tributaries of the Don still do flow - save perhaps for the stretch through Duncan Mill Road - are forced to dip and dive under bridges and scamper through gulleys to stay afloat. Whatever "planning" did take place here is little in evidence.
But starting at Leslie, in a wide band of green between Moatfield Farm Park in the northwest and the Duncan Mill Greenbelt in the southeast, one of the city's last intact rises south of the 401 in a dramatic swoosh of hills and valleys.
This section of the upper Don watershed is among the steepest anywhere in the city. Judging by tracks in the snow, a few deer and rabbit, perhaps a coyote or two, make their home here.
A clue to this forest's uniqueness is the fact the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature) used to make its headquarters in an old Tudor-style farm house here, keeping tacit watch over the area.
But now, a proposal to build a new Don Mills Arena and parking lot on its eastern edge by Don Mills and 401, has greens worried.
Local Lou Wise, who at age 88 still flies planes and does aerial photography for conservation authorities across southern Ontario, has had a bird's eye view of the Moatfield lands, as they are also known. He says they need our protection.
And that, we have too few small forests left in the Toronto region to allow them to be paved over.
Eco group Sierra Club has been called in to save the day. But so far there have been only vague responses, or none at all, to questions to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and city officials about the arena proposal.
The slope for green advocates seems slippery at the moment.
Photos by Enzo Di Matteo