The City of Toronto wants to increase density in all neighbourhoods by a By-Law Amendment to permit multiplexes in all residential neighbourhoods of Toronto.
There will be a significant impact on the historical character and streetscape of our neighbourhood when existing houses are demolished or renovated and repurposed as multiplexes.
Multiplexes are defined as 2, 3, or 4 units in a single building. This housing type is also referred to as a duplex, triplex, or fourplex. These homes could be rental or condominium units and they could either be in the form of converted houses or purpose-built as a multiplex.
Key changes proposed in the zoning by-law amendments:
Permit multiplex building types in Residential Detached, Residential Semi-Detached and Residential Townhouse zones
Exempt multiplex building types from Floor area to Lot Size (FSI) regulations
Permit maximum building depth of up to 19.0 meters (62 ft)
Permit a maximum building height of 12 meters (40 ft) which may allow for a 4 storey multiplex
Set a minimum side yard set back of 0.9 meters (3 ft)
Permit up to two porches/decks/balconies per dwelling unit
Lift restrictions on multiple front entrances for secondary suites
Parking spaces may be reduced to accommodate the larger building
Amend thermal efficiency values (U values) to permit up to 4 units in all residential zones
The zoning amendment would not change these standards:
Front and rear yard setbacks
Landscaped open space
All of the above may be exceeded through “minor adjustment” applications to the Committee of Adjustment. As reported on January 22, the passage of Bill 23 at the end of last year made it easier to proceed with development applications through the Committee of Adjustment
The Planning and Housing Committee will consider these policies during a Public Meeting to be held on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 2:30 pm – City Hall, Committee Room 1, Second Floor and by Video Conference.
The CLRA welcomes all members of our community to contact us () with your comments and suggestions and to let us know if you want to participate in our submission to the City.
The Wells Hill Lawn Bowling Club, beside the newly reopened Wychwood Library, is looking forward to re-opening in late June 2023 after installation of a new irrigation system and a new bowling green. The Club is looking forward to welcoming the community back after a long period of hiatus!
The new clubroom is built into the southeast corner of the Wychwood Library Branch. The clubroom includes 75 lockers, an accessible washroom, kitchen with fridge, microwave and sink and shelving for awards and game supplies. The Wychwood Library renovations have transformed the site, with a new gallery overlooking the bowling green which offers excellent spectator opportunities for the game below. This is the first new lawn bowling facility in the city in decades and one that promises to be a highly attractive venue.
Thanks to a grant from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program the club has acquired six sets of “Junior Ace” lawn bowls, helpful for adults who might prefer a smaller lawn bowl, and also ideal for children who might want to challenge their parents, or each other! The Club will also use the grant to acquire about 40 new slings to make lawn bowls easier to carry.
The Club needs your help to relaunch! There are many small tasks to whip the Club into shape, from helping with social media, communications, programming, cleaning equipment, setting up lockers, you name it. If you would like to help out, or if you want to add your name to the Club’s mailing list please contact Greg Deschamps, Club President, at .
Because of the uncertainty of the reopening date, adult membership fees will be set at $75 for the season, reduced for 2023. As well, if you would like to help re-equip the Club please visit the club’s GoFundMe page and help towards the club goal of raising $5,000 to refresh equipment.
The 17th Annual Yard Sale will take place on Saturday June 3 between 9am and 2 pm. Over 30 homes in the neighbourhood have participated in each of the previous yard sales.
If you would like to participate in this year’s yard sale, please contact Cheryl Millett (). The usual $5 for printing and advertising. No inflation just to keep it simple! Drop off in Cheryl’s mailbox at 5 Nina Street or feel free to eTransfer to Cheryl’s email. Please provide your address.
Volunteers are appreciated for dropping off flyers, putting up posters in the neighbourhood, and posting on Kijiji/Craiglist. Please let Cheryl know if you are interested.
Dear neighbours, volunteers, and friends of the Casa Loma Community Rink.
I’m happy to announce that our rink is up and open! We had a great turnout of volunteers to help lay the liner on January 29th, and since then we have been flooding the rink and problem solving as we go.
The good news is that we did it! A lot of work and love went into this rink, and we think it’s pretty amazing. We hope you will all get a chance to skate! The bad news is that the weather forecast is not looking good. We are doing all we can to keep the rink going despite the unseasonably warm temperatures. We’ve been happy to see some skates on the ice, and we hope the community will have more time to enjoy the rink.
I also want to take this opportunity to send out some words of thanks. There are a lot of people who worked hard to build this rink, and it’s been heartwarming to see such a positive community response. We’ve had the support and encouragement of Councillor Josh Matlow and Alex Forgay from the beginning, Nancy Carneiro and Nancy Aranha from the City of Toronto worked hard to help our team get this rink approved, and we could not have had a rink this winter without the generous support of Catriona Delaney and her team at Liberty Entertainment Group/ Casa Loma who provided water for the rink at no cost, gave our team access to the stables, and who have offered help and friendly encouragement along the way. The Casa Loma Residents Association has been a valuable support and helped us connect to our neighbours. Countless people have offered their time, advice and hands on experience. We’d like to send a special shout out to Ray Bernard of the Fairmount Rink Ice-Masters, who took the time to come to our rink to help us get it up and running on the coldest day of the year and to Luciano Borsato for his helpful advice. Last but not least, our neighbours, friends, and families donated to our GoFundMe to help us build the rink, picked up shovels and hoses, and continue to volunteer their time and efforts no matter what the weather predicts. This has truly been a community effort! Even if Season 1 of the Casa Loma Community Rink is a short one, we are going into Season 2 strong.
It was hoped to have a Community Skate at 2pm this Saturday, February 11th. However the unseasonably mild weather has forced the closure of the rink for the time being. In fact, the forecast is for above freezing temperatures every day until at least the last week of the month. Everyone will be informed by email of the rescheduled date if that becomes possible.
The following is a summary of a very complex law and regulations. It has not been prepared by a lawyer. The Casa Loma Residents Association has identified parts of Bill 23 of obvious interest to us. Our understanding will grow as regulations implementing the Bill are announced and as we work with residents and other associations in the months ahead.
Bill 23 – More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 received Royal Assent on November 28, 2022. Substantial portions of the Bill came into force upon Royal Assent, while other portions will come into force on a date to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor.
The stated purpose of Bill 23 is to help achieve the Ontario Government’s stated goal of having 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years. This would be twice the number of housing starts in Ontario for the 10 years ending 2021. The Bill will have the greatest impact in those areas where there is significant land available for development or redevelopment.
There are provisions that have an impact on the Casa Loma community.
Our Casa Loma neighbourhood is within the St. Clair West Protected Major Transit Station Area.
The last data from the City (2016) estimated the area’s population at 15,524 plus employment of 2,778. The planned density for the area is approximately 40,000 residents and workers (313 per hectare) which is more than double the current number. The minimum goal is 25,500 (200 per hectare). This goal was set by the City through a process that took place between March 2020 and July 2022.
Most of the increased density will take place on the north side of St. Clair Ave., up Bathurst St. and Raglan Ave, where residential and mixed use towers are already underway or planned.
With respect to density measures, our neighbourhood will be impacted as follows:
The new amendments permit landowners to add up to three residential units “as of right” for land zoned for one home in residential areas without requiring a zoning by-law amendment. The three units can be within the existing structure or could take the form of a residence with an in-law, basement suite or garden home. The zoning by-law standards respecting matters such as height will remain and continue to apply.
Public meetings will no longer be required for applications for a draft plan of subdivision. Developments of up to 10 residential units will be exempted from site plan control. Architectural details and landscape design aesthetics will be removed from the scope of site plan control.
A hurdle for the Casa Loma Heritage Conservation District Plan and heritage designations
The long overdue Casa Loma Heritage Conservation District Plan (approved to proceed to the Plan Stage in July 2018) now may have another hurdle to overcome. A regulation is expected to be published outlining the criteria for designating an HCD. Hopefully this criteria will not be more onerous than that applied by the Toronto Preservation Board and the City of Toronto Planning Division so the long awaited designation will be granted.
New amendments will set a new threshold for listing properties on the Heritage Register and keep them listed. A property will have to meet a prescribed criteria to determine if it is of cultural heritage value or interest. Properties may not be designated to be of cultural heritage value or interest once applications for official plan amendments, zoning by-law amendments or draft plan of subdivision have been filed unless already on the register. Further, properties may not be designated if the designation would conflict with provincial priorities such as transit, housing, health and long-term care and infrastructure. Municipalities will be required to remove a property from the heritage register if council has not initiated a designation process under section 29 of the OHA within two years of it being listed. For properties that are already listed on the heritage register (see below), a date will be established for the commencement of the two-year period. A property will also be removed from the list if the municipality does not pass the implementing by-law within a prescribed timeline or if the by-law is successfully appealed. If a property is removed from the heritage register, the municipality will be prohibited from listing that property again for a period of five years.
Properties currently listed on the Heritage Register are:
5 Austin Terrace
153, 155 and 157 Lyndhurst Ave. (originally the Lyndhurst Lodge)
338 and 340 Spadina Rd. (Wembley Apartments)
Hillcrest Community School.
The City has not addressed moving these properties to the by-law designation stage under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act for many years.
For background, the properties in our neighbourhood that are protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act are Casa Loma, Pellatt Lodge, Casa Loma Stables, Spadina House, 72 Wells Hill Ave., 51 Wells Hill Ave., 7 Austin Terrace, Wychwood Library.
Limiting appeals at Committee of Adjustment and TLAB
To reduce backlogs, there is no longer the right for a third-party to appeal a minor variance and consent decision. Only the owner of a property, the municipality and certain specified persons and public bodies still have the right to appeal a decision. There are no changes to the right of third parties to appeal official plans or official plan amendments or zoning by-laws or zoning by-law amendments.
There is also an amendment to the Ontario Land Tribunal Act, 2021, yet to come into force, that will expand the Tribunal’s authority to dismiss appeals without a hearing, notably on the basis that the party who brought a proceeding has contributed to undue delay. There is also a provision to strengthen the Tribunal’s authority to order an unsuccessful party in a proceeding to pay a successful party’s costs.
Refining Community Benefit Charges and Scaling Back Development Charges
Changes to the method for calculating Community Benefit Charges, Development Charges and parkland by-laws will reduce the cost of development. This will no doubt reduce benefits our neighbourhood and adjacent neighbourhoods may have received from the high-rise developments along St. Clair Ave. West. The City will also have to look for new sources of revenue to replace the lost revenue.
On November 3, 2022 the Casa Loma Residents Association established a new Planning and Development Committee chaired by Robert Levy and including three lawyers, Richard Macklin, Jonah Arnold and Paul Morrison. These members have many years of experience protecting the character and heritage of our community. You will be hearing from this committee in the weeks ahead.
Toronto Hydro is rebuilding the electrical distribution system in and around our neighbourhood. This rebuild includes upgrading overhead and underground electrical cables on city-owned property.
The project area includes a section of Bathurst St., Wells Hill Ave., Hilton Ave., Nina St., Melgund Rd., Alcina Ave., Albany Ave., Austin Terrace, Bridgman Ave., Burnside Dr., Davenport Rd., Dartnell Ave., and Lyndhurst Ave..
There will be road and sidewalk restrictions within the construction area. Some trees will need to be trimmed. Advance notice will be provided of any parking restrictions. We have been advised that cars will be towed if necessary.
The expected timeline is February 2023 to December 2023. Work is scheduled for Monday to Friday between 7am and 7pm but some weekend work may be required.
One of the missions of the CLRA is to actively engage in addressing development proposals within our neighbourhood or that affect our neighbourhood.
Most recently, the CLRA has been taking the lead along with the Tarragon Village Community Association and the Castle Hill Townhome residents group in objecting to a number of aspects of two proposed 8 storey residential towers being proposed for 555 Davenport Rd. (at Kendal) and 550 Macpherson Ave (at Kendal) which proposes to convert educational use zoning on land that had belonged to George Brown College to residential and construct a high end condominium project. The concerns include the height and density of the two residential towers, setbacks and scale, as well as the heritage status of the building located at the corner of Davenport and Kendal. There are also concerns regarding the loss of the surface parking lots which has to be addressed given the overflow requirements of Casa Loma and our desire to protect the street parking north of the castle for the use of our residents.
These towers at their proposed height of 8 floors would substantially detract from the views from and to Casa Loma and the Casa Loma escarpment which are protected Official Plan public realm views. Our second submission can be viewed HERE.
Over 30 years ago our residents banded together with other residents and the City to prevent the Goldman Group from building an 8 storey tower on the land southwest of Spadina and Davenport. Instead, negotiations led to the Castle Hill townhouses which is a very attractive development on that site with substantial landscaping and protective of the views of Casa Loma. Given the context of the Castle Hill townhomes we believe the Zinc proposal is a material over development of the two sites.
The CLRA recognizes that the City’s Official Plan is for higher density in its core to address our growing population. We are not objecting to residential buildings intensification on Davenport and Kendall, only to ensuring that the remaining development land is developed in proper context of this unique heritage neighbourhood.
When you read our submission referenced above you will see that we have started working with Terry Mills of ARRIS Planning Consultants who has provided substantial assistance and has a track record of working to support residents’ associations. We have learned that it is critical to provide independent planning perspectives to the City to comment on planning reports submitted by the developers planners and consultants.
Earlier this year, working in collaboration with the ARA (Annex Residents Association) and local residents, we were successful in negotiating a reduction in height from 9 to 8 storeys and an overall height reduction as well as some façade improvements to minimize rail noise reflection as well as aesthetics for the Self Storage building proposed for the northeast corner of Dupont and Bathurst to specifically address the objections raised by residents on Austin Crescent and Lyndhurst Court. We also identified and addressed a number of transportation issues regarding ingress and egress from Bathurst which would affect our residents as well as many others.
All of these projects where we interact with other associations as well as city staff gives us resources and connections for all of our other issues. We have developed a strong reputation at the city and with other associations for our constructive contributions.
The experience we are gaining will help us going forward with the traffic and parking issues at Casa Loma, the traffic congestion on St. Clair and the work needed to complete the Heritage Conservation Study and related designations under the heritage act. Councillor Matlow and his team continue to be extremely helpful and supportive of the CLRA and our constructive contributions to the City planning issues.
The CLRA has learned from Erin Smith, a Heritage Planner at the City, that Heritage Planning has now determined that 555 Davenport meets Ontario Regulation 9/06 criteria prescribed under the Ontario Heritage Act for determining cultural heritage significance. Staff will be recommending to City Council in January that the property be included on the City’s Heritage Register and designated under the Ontario Heritage Act as part of the planning application process.
Please join the CLRA. Membership is $25 per 12-month period. Together we can accomplish so much more than we can as individuals to protect our very special neighbourhood.
Sarah Gould, and a team of neighbours hope to build a community ice rink this winter in the Casa Loma parkette on Walmer Rd. next to the Casa Loma Stables. With the help of Councillor Josh Matlow, they received approval from the city of Toronto through the Natural Ice Rink program and Casa Loma has agreed to donate the water for the rink flooding from the Stables facility. However, it is up to the community to build and maintain the rink and to cover the costs of materials required. Money is needed so that the rink liner kit can be purchased in December, which will help the volunteer icemakers build and maintain a great rink.
What better way to facilitate outdoor play and connect with friends and community, than a local ice rink in our very own corner of the city!
Any donation, small or large, will help reach the goal of raising $1,500 to build and maintain the rink.
To contribute to this Go Fund Me campaign please click HERE
Sarah Gould, Robert McCann, Jeremy Speigel & the Casa Loma Community Ice Rink team.
Sharpen your skates, we hope to see you on the ice! ⛸️⛸️❄️
UPDATE – December 23, 2022
Over $2,000 was raised! The rink kit has arrived !!
We are looking for volunteers – adults and kids – who are interested in helping our amazing group of neighbours build and/or maintain the rink during the skating season. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Sarah Gould at
It’s now November, the sales office for the Condo towers is open but we are still waiting on the Record of Site Condition (RSC) and the Transportation Study that was promised has not yet been undertaken.
The RSC summarizes the environmental condition of a property based on the completion of one or more Environmental Site Assessments.
The Transportation Study is to address community concerns about increasing traffic flow through to Bathurst by Melgund or Nina, largely attributable to backed up traffic further and further on St. Clair caused by (i) increased pedestrian traffic at the intersection limiting right turns north on Bathurst and thus effectively blocking the inner of the two lanes of westbound traffic and (ii) a short left turn lane at the intersection which often blocks the outer lane. The traffic jam also adds greatly to the pollution around the corner and along St. Clair across from Wells Hill Park. See our June 6, 2020 posting.
A group is forming to educate us and take action to protect our Nordheimer Ravine. The group, led by Susan Aaron of the University of Toronto with the assistance of Barbara Chernin who heads our Environmental Group, is organizing a walk through the ravine and is working to bring in staff from Toronto Parks, the Toronto Region Conservation Board and Councillor Josh Matlow’s office. We will inform you when a date is chosen. If you are interested in helping in this very worthy endeavor, please contact Susan or Barbara for more information.
An earlier CLRA report referencing our ravine was published on April 15, 2022. In addition, there have been many reports referencing the environmental issues affecting the ravine emanating from the 3 tower condo development at St. Clair & Bathurst. For further work on efforts to protect Toronto’s ravines please see the recent article in the Globe and Mail below.
Update November 17: Organizers of the walk were not able to coordinate a time with city officials before the onset of winter. Another attempt will be made next year.
Toronto’s ravines are in a critical state, threatened by invasive species, climate change and intensive land development
Globe & Mail, September 10, 2022
Toronto’s ravine system makes up a significant part of the city’s green infrastructure, as natural parklands and urban forests provide countless environmental, health and recreational benefits. However, the city’s ravines are in a critical state, threatened by invasive species, climate change and intensive land development.
In January, 2020, Toronto City Council adopted the Ravine Strategy Implementation Plan to protect the city’s ravines. A group of volunteers formed the Toronto Nature Stewards (TNS) to help implement the plan and advance independent stewardship to restore the ecological health of Toronto’s ravines.
Daniel Cushing prepares to remove lily of the valley from Roxborough Parkette North site. JOEL RODRIGUEZ/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Hundreds of volunteer stewards work under the direction of lead stewards and meet regularly to pick up litter and remove invasive plants, such as lily of the valley, Japanese knotweed and dog-strangling vine, which can crowd out native species.
Before the program started, only city park officials were allowed to remove invasive species from ravines. But the partnership allows volunteers to identify and remove these plants without supervision.
Catherine Berka, Geoffrey Chan and John Oyston work on identifying and removing Japanese knotweed. JOEL RODRIGUEZ/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Geoffrey Chan and Catherine Berka are lead stewards at TNS’s Roxborough Parkette North site. Mr. Chan says the stewardship work has given him an appreciation for the rich variety of life that exists within the city’s ravine system.
“I used to think only of places like the Amazon as being powerhouses of biodiversity, but here in this part of Ontario, we have a wealth of biodiversity too,” he said. “Although I grew up in Toronto, I never knew this until now. It’s right in our backyard, and it’s a treasure.”
Finbarr O’Callahan works on identifying and removing Japanese knotweed. JOEL RODRIGUEZ/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Toronto Nature Stewards now oversees 23 sites and has 60 trained lead stewards across the city. The stewardship year begins in April and runs until late October or early November.
Leslie Kestin, Geoffrey Chan, Finbarr O’Callahan, John Oyston, Jonathon Martynski and Anqi Dong at Roxborough Parkette North site. JOEL RODRIGUEZ/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
On July 22, 2022 City Council approved amendments to the official plan and bylaws to extend permissions throughout the City for six types of personal services shops where clients and customers may come to a home (barber, hairdresser, beautician, dressmaker, seamstress and tailor) and for an office for a regulated health related professional.
Last month 40 houses participated in the 15th Annual Casa Loma Yard Sale! This is a Casa Loma Yard Sale record!!
Due to several requests, a second yard sale will be held this year on Saturday October 1st. To register so your home is included in the advertisements, postings and maps or if you want to volunteer or if any student in your household need community service credits, contact Cheryl Millett
The CLRA has joined with the Tarragon Village Community Association (our neighbour to the south) and the Habayit Shelanu Senior Residence in objecting to developments proposed on Kendall Avenue just south of our community.
A developer, Zinc Developments is proposing to build two 8-storey residential buildings; one at 555 Davenport having a gross floor area of 10,906 square meters, and containing 134 residential dwelling units and another at 500 MacPherson having a gross floor area of 11,572 square meters, and containing 135 residential dwelling units. The properties are currently owned by George Brown College and the development requires Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments.
The CLRA has no issues with the principle of converting the existing properties located at 555 Davenport Road and 500 MacPherson Avenue which are currently zoned industrial education, to residential but we do have concerns regarding excessive height, need for setbacks from the Habayit Shelanu seniors residence, the potential heritage significance of 555 Davenport, the preservation of views to Casa Loma, to the Lake Iroquois escarpment, the preservation of City and skyline views from the Baldwin steps, Casa Loma and public streets on the escarpment as well as the potential need to preserve parking for George Brown students and staff and the overflow parking required when there are events at Casa Loma.
The Multiplex Proposals Report , part of the City’s EHON ( Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods) initiative, was adopted by the Planning and Housing Committee at their July 5, 2022 meeting. The term Multiplex refers to duplex, triplex or fourplex buildings. The objective is for more housing units to be built in Neighbourhoods. It is intended that multiplexes will continue to be built to the same general scale and zoning standards for low-rise buildings. The Casa Loma neighbourhood is considered a Neighbourhood under the Official Plan. This can be seen in the Official Plan MAP.
Consultations on the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-Law changes to enable the recommendations in the Report will continue through the Fall of 2022. The recommended Official Plan and Zoning By-Law Amendments are expected in early 2023.
On February 2, 2022, Toronto City Council adopted the Garden Suites Official Plan Amendment and Zoning by-law Amendment. The amendments were appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) shortly thereafter. On July 4, 2022, the OLT decided that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeals, and dismissed them. Read the full OLT decision.
The CLRA has been following the Garden Suites initiative since March, 2021.
The CLRA was successful in negotiating a reduction in height for the proposed Self-Storage building to be built at Dupont and Bathurst. Other architectural changes were also agreed to. The developer has agreed to reduce the height to 8 floor from the originally proposed 9 floors. This will improve the sightlines over the city for homes on Austin Crescent and Lyndhurst Court.
Good news as we have been able to stop, at least for now, Liberty Entertainment Group’s plans to re-locate their restaurant Don Alfonso 1890 to the Casa Loma Stables.
Councillor Josh Matlow organized a meeting with Robert Levy, President of the CLRA, neighbours, Joanna Kates and JoAnn Breitman, city staff and Nick Di Donato of LEG and others after neighbours noticed work taking place behind the stables. Matlow had previously promised that nothing would be done with the stables until a full review of the lease was undertaken and the community consulted. Matlow was taken aback that plans for a restaurant had progressed with the knowledge of City staff.
Liberty president Nick Di Donato confirmed his company had planned to relocate the Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant to Casa Loma’s stables. The restaurant had been operating as a pop-up in Casa Loma’s Conservatory during the pandemic. An application quietly filed with the City last year did show plans to build a kitchen, washroom and covered walkway to accommodate the restaurant and with “encouragement” from Economic Development construction had started ahead of a permit being issued.
There is no doubt that LEG has done a great job since taking over management of Casa Loma in 2013. Since then, according to the City, LEG has made $11.9 million in capital improvements and paid Toronto $11.2 million in rent and other proceeds. However the CLRA has been complaining for years about the traffic congestion and noise coming from LEG’s success with little concrete results. None of the recommendations in an expensive Noise and Traffic Mitigation Study undertaken by the City in 2018 were ever implemented. It is the CLRA’s view that activities at the Stables should be very limited as they are located within a residential area with homes adjacent to, behind and across from the Stables and just because the Stables are there they should not be used as an active annex to the Castle. In a survey of street residents in November 2021, 78% of the residents on Walmer Road opposed a restaurant being established there.
The City has now agreed to consult with the community before encouraging or approving any plans for additional uses of the Stables. Thank you Councillor Josh Matlow.
Follow-up: Don Alfonso 1890 re-opened on the 38th Floor of the Harbour Castle Westin Hotel in early July.
Post from Barbara Chernin, head of the Environmental Group
Starting off is news about homes abutting Nordheimer Ravine and a potential project where the TRCA (Toronto Region and Conservation Authority) is exploring the idea of a Plant Native Trees and Shrubs program on private ravine properties. It would not only contribute to the beautification of the neighbourhood but have an environmental impact as well. When I conducted a survey with a handout dropped off to homes backing on the Nordheimer Ravine back in November, I was delighted to find that 12 homes expressed interest in the project!
Colin Love, Supervisor, Community Learning Toronto – Education and Training for TRCA will continue to explore what a City of Toronto Community Planting and Stewardship Grant would look like with the encouragement of the Casa Loma Residents Association. If funded, this could potentially cover the costs of native trees/shrubs to be given to residents so that residents could plant themselves on their own property. TRCA could provide some training such as webinars for residents to participate in. The program would be launched in the summer of 2023.
In the meantime, here are non-profit and City of Toronto low cost or free planting programs with additional information now on offer for spring and summer months ahead, starting with LEAF which has a wide array of volunteer and low-cost planting initiatives.
Native Tree and Plant Programs for Your Gardens:
LEAF, a non-profit organization that teaches people about trees and gets them excited about the urban forest is located at Wychwood barns https://www.yourleaf.org/toronto-homeowners . LEAF “envisions healthy vibrant communities where everyone values and cares for the urban forest.” They supply native species of trees and shrubs for your backyard and public spaces such as their LEAF Learning Garden , offering urban forest stewardship through planting, education and training. Community Programs Manager Brian Millward, suggests a few LEAF programs that Casa Loma residents can get involved in:
This program allows homeowners to plant native trees and shrubs in their backyards at a subsidized price with the guidance of certified arborists. They make sure that you get the right species for the right space!
Please note that you must move quickly if you are interested as I noticed most of the plantings are sold out until 2023. Spring deliveries begin in April and continue through to the end of June.
Themed Bundles for urban gardens include samples in Edible Bundles with such plants as cranberry and northern wild raisin to Songbird Bundles which include lowbush blueberry and Privacy Bundles with dense growing shrubs such as bayberry.
LEAF OFFER: They are now offering themed shrub bundles, designed to help you beautify your yard. A bundle of four native shrubs, delivered to your door with mulch, a planting and care guide and a specialized fact sheet (only $100 + HST– that’s like buying four shrubs for the price of three!)
If you have problems ordering, contact Jess Wilkin directly at 416.413.9244
This program is for those who wish to have more of a hands on role in the community.
Volunteers play a critical role in helping improve the urban forest by participating in community outreach, tending to Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens and supporting our community tree planting events. If you are interested in tree planting at home, try their:
Full Service Tree Planting for backyards
$150 – $220 (+ HST) per tree includes *
30 minute consultation in your yard with a LEAF arborist
5 to 8 foot tall native deciduous tree or 2 to 4 foot tall native evergreen tree
delivery and full planting service
mulch and planting/care guide
online educational videos
30-minute virtual consultation with a LEAF arborist
City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation also offers a residential public road allowance. A property owner can submit a tree planting request for the City-owned road allowance in front of their home or business just by calling 311.
The City of Toronto also has a number of free resources for members of the public living next to a ravine, or who want to learn about native species and combat invasive plants and trees.
Invasive plants have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts reducing populations of native plants and insects dependent on those plants, permanently altering communities and ecosystem functions, and costing economies millions of dollars each year. See Pages 7-52 of this Booklet Beautiful Non Invasive Plants For Your Garden for a list of a variety of species that are unwanted and a list of great alternatives instead. Instead of English Ivy? Try planting Wild Strawberry instead to protect your garden’s ecosystem!
For property owners bordering Nordheimer Ravine, TRCA’s Colin Love strongly recommends: A Property Owner’s Guide to Healthy Ravines. This booklet has great information about local invasive plants common in ravines and best management practices.
City of Toronto Community Stewardship Program – Nordheimer Ravine
Volunteer group for residents interested in learning more about their local ravine along with stewardship practices (e.g. invasive species management)
There are two general orientation sessions that start on April 20.
One enterprising volunteer organization called Friends of Cedarvale (FOC) embarked on their own tree planting program. This organization is dedicated to maintaining and improving Cedarvale Park and Ravine in Toronto. John Cummings, Chair Friends of Cedarvale spoke to me about a pilot project created with Eric Davies, one of the country’s foremost authorities on the revitalization and preservation of urban forests. The project called Oak Sapling Nurseries grew oak saplings in 5 sapling nurseries in the gardens of Heathdale Road homeowners who have properties backing onto the Cedarvale ravine. About a year and a half later, there are young oak saplings that are healthy and expected to continue their growth in tree adulthood.
John and Eric started this project because they are greatly concerned that native trees on Toronto’s ravine slopes are being displaced by non-Native Norway Maples and European buckthorn trees and seedlings. Norway maples in particular, cause shade and prevent other plants from growing around them. John noted when recently visiting a Wells Hill Avenue backyard, a proliferation of young Norway maple saplings in the Nordheimer Ravine. He says “it is evident as well in Cedarvale (and I believe throughout the ravine and river valley system in Toronto). Ideally, these saplings would be removed at an early stage of their growth. Invasive plants, particularly dog-strangling vine and garlic mustard can be seen in both ravines.”
Make no mistake, invasive trees and shrubs are very responsible for the poor condition of our lovely Nordheimer Ravine and I applaud the efforts of any program that gives residents a chance to keep it healthy and thriving.
For more information and to join neighbours interested in all things green , contact Casa Loma resident Barbara Chernin at
The CLRA keeps a record of the names, street address, email addresses and phone numbers of residents who live within the boundaries of the CLRA and who have been identified to us through membership registrations, community events and referrals. We do not share this information with any other party, including other individuals or organizations in our community. Everyone for whom we have information receives email communications from us. If you wish to stop receiving emails, please reply back to any email received and all your personal information will be removed from our database. Our database is maintained on a private server independent of the server that provides our web hosting.
We do not receive your credit card number, expiry date or security code when you pay for your membership on line. That information is received by our credit card processing provider. We have chosen Stripe Inc. as our processing provider, one of the largest companies in the business. The CLRA has secured an SSL certificate so that all information is encrypted in your credit card processing.