So, the other day I was riding my bike down the Baview extension in Toronto, which is kinda like a mini expressway. There wasn’t much of a shoulder, so when a biker came the other direction I pulled over, and as I stopped, I had that sorta sixth sense that I was being watched.
So I looked over my shoulder and this is who I saw (I actually took this picture at that moment)! There were two of them. A mamma and fawn deer, RIGHT IN THE HEART OF THIS CITY OF MORE THAN 3 MILLION PEOPLE.
And as you can tell, they both looked really healthy and well fed.
And the even better part, is that this is not unusual in Toronto. Because Toronto has the largest ravine system in the world - roughly 45,000 acres, which is pretty massive when you consider Central Park is 800 acres - and that’s why Toronto has dubbed itself ‘the city within a park’.
Toronto’s ravine system is home to heaps of wildlife because instead of having isolated parks, it’s an interconnected tapestry of glacier era rivers that exist BELOW STREET LEVEL, which allows animals to enter and exit the city at their leisure.
Over the years I’ve seen tons of Coyotes in Toronto - now considered ‘Coy-wolves’ because of their interbreeding with wolves - and clearly so have many others because the city now has billboards with this message plastered all over:
And I recently ran into a friend who says he paddles up the Humber river (in Toronto’s west end) once a week, and he regularly sees turtles, great blue herons and frogs (a good indicator of a healthy ecosystem).
And each fall, on the same ‘inner city river’ you can see the annual salmon run.
But here’s the really amazing thing. When I was a teenager, roughly 30 years ago, the ravines did not appear to be in good shape. They were garbage dumps where creepy stuff happened.
And now they’re alive and vibrant.
We in the ‘west’ have done so many innovative things in the past few centuries, but that has also made us leaders of waste and climate changing emissions.
Canada has among the highest per capita emissions in the world (and the US is close behind) and while part of that is because we’re a big cold country with a small population, I think it’s also because we’re a wealthy country that can afford to be wasteful.
Fortunately, we have the political system and the resources to reflect and make a change. And I think Toronto’s ravines are a perfect example. And I’m guessing that there are tons of equally exciting changes in whatever part of the world you are reading this from too!
In the next 20 years we have A LOT of work to do. But I believe we can do it if we keep highlighting the changes that HAVE happened, learning what was needed to make them happen and building on the successes with more investment and change.
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