Mar 5, 2017

Row BoatThe Toronto Star recently reported that the city of Toronto wants to help more paddlers and kayakers get out on the lake. Toronto’s parks and environment committee approved a $500,000 plan to improve access to the water for paddleboards, kayaks and canoes last Monday, February 20. The plan requires council approval.

The city's plan would create five new spots to launch kayaks and other human-powered vessels. Paddlers and kayakers will enjoy more access to the waterfront if council supports the plan at their meeting in March.

The city’s parks and environment committee approved a plan to install five paddling nodes that will allow people with nonmotorized recreational watercrafts such as paddleboards, kayaks and canoes to launch into the water. The plan, which costs $500,000, requires council approval. If all goes well, installation would start this summer. According to the preliminary proposal, the nodes will be in five city parks along the waterfront from Scarborough to Etobicoke.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will partner with the city for the project, partly to ensure the process doesn’t cause any environmental damage. Committee chair Mary-Margaret McMahon said the idea is to encourage a more paddling and fishing friendly city. Once the installations are complete, she envisions the potential for canoe and kayak sharing programs, just like the city’s popular bike share initiatives.

“Not everyone has a cottage, but we have this glorious lake and beach, and we should be encouraging people to use it more,” she said.

The locations were chosen based on their potential to provide both recreational and fishing uses, as well as parking access and community support. Constructing the nodes is also about increasing user safety. Right now a number of boating clubs offer service on the lake, but paddlers don’t have designated spots to launch from, which makes the water less accessible, noted McMahon.

Five nodes are “definitely not enough” to serve the entire city but it’s a good start and a step in the right direction, added the Beaches-East York councillor.

“It’s an educational tool. A lot of people aren’t even aware there’s a lake down there and that they can swim or paddle in it,” she said.

 

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