August Insights

A seldom mentioned section of the Walker’s Creek course and associated trails, viewed recently, was an interesting discovery. A Stroll along the Creek that runs in the open from Linwell through to Scott street, and which borders Realty Park, was a new experience, resulting from some comments by nearby residents concerned with ‘pooling in the creek, increased algae growth, possible mosquito breeding grounds and also some nefarious and annoying nighttime activities by unknown persons. We did see some very small fish living in one of the larger pools, so maybe we have help in controlling mosquito growth.

Fortunately, I was guided on this Stroll by two nearby residents who have years of experience in viewing this section of the Creek, making for a very pleasant, friendly and informative adventure. Conversations with persons using the pathway was also beneficial and pleasing, especially a young miniature Poodle dog who enjoying meeting new people and checking out the scents and activity of the Creek and pathway.  The spring rejuvenation work has changed this area dramatically, I was told, making an overgrown and very shady pathway into a sun filled walkway.

This pathway is unique within the Parks’ Trails as it is made up of interlocking cement blocks that form a very solid pathway, running mostly right beside the Creek and bordered on both side of this section of the Creek by massive squared stone buttresses holding back the soil, and in so doing, creating an almost ‘canyon’ affect. Vegetation on the upper levels, above these stone walls,  varies from controlled growth and newly planted trees and shrubs to dense overgrown bush. A resident’s fence, tagged with Graffiti would benefit from the planting of fast growing Dogwood bushes, as has been successful in another area of the Park … the bushes serving as a cover and making access to the fence more difficult. A massive and elderly Poplar tree dominates the skyline in this area. The previously active Raccoon population is said to have moved on to new territories, for some a  most pleasant diappearance of a nuisance and for others, the loss of that sense of wilderness and wildlife.”Cute” as a positive; “Destructive” as a negative!!

The addition of low stone and gravel breaks, running across the Creek at regular intervals is restricting the flow, causing the pooling, which seems to be designed to change the water flow from ‘quick and easy’ to ‘slow and pooling’. This condition will be reviewed in the coming week (August 22 – 26) when a Senior Staff member and a water flow technician from the Niagara Conservation authority will review the situation at a number of locations along the entire Creek and ‘educate’ me as to the “why’s and what’s” regarding this concern with pooling that has appeared following the rejuvenation work this past spring.

This pathway is a very direct route for walkers and cyclists going from those residential areas off Vine Street  to the Grantham Plaza and it is also well used by students as they make their way to various schools. But during and after heavy rain fall, the Creek overflows its minimal small channel and has been known to rise well up the stone walls on either side of the Creek, proving the need and ability of these stone walls to control erosion while keeping the fast flowing water from eating away at residents’ back yards. In times of this high water, the pathway is obliterated and can actually be a dangerous area for young and old as the water does move swiftly downstream.

Graffiti was evident at the bridge site where the Creek goes under Regent Street … so the City’s ‘Graffiti Hot Line’ … (905-688-5601, extension 3138) has been advised of its presence. A team from the Parks Department is expected to clean off  these tags  in the coming days.

The loss of the trees alongside the chain link fence, planted following the expansion of the Scott Street smaller plaza, was done to allow accessibility to the lower creek area by the contractor, and is a serious disappointment and deserves attention and possible re-planting of similar species. The short stumps, now well hidden in the weeds, indicate that a number of years of growth of these plantings has now been lost, making replanting in the near future a most desirable decision.

All in all, this is a very different area than most of the other parks and pathways … delightful, easy to transverse and a pleasant , mostly woodland route between the hustle of the shopping centres, coffee and fast food locations and the calm streets of a nicely treed neighbourhood.

And to other events of interest… 

An interesting meeting with the DSBN staff person responsible for “Community Use Of Schools” opens doors to possible use of these facilities for WCNA programs … the programs yet to be considered, but having that resource is a pleasant opportunity. That conversation also made me aware of a program from Brock University, called “Community Learning” and using an approach they refer to as “Conversation Cafes”, where people interested in a  common topic, gather for a relaxed meeting in pleasant local surroundings, with the chosen topic being the focus of discussion. The DSBN is hoping to use this approach to involve parents of students, gathering in some local schools, to consider items of interest in education for their children. The WCNA Executive will also be looking at utilizing this program for similar gatherings on neighbourhood topics. Building a sense of community and neighbourhoods does require people knowing other people and gathering to discuss issues of common interest is a good way for this to happen. This is one of the goals of the WCNA Mission and adds a dimension to the ongoing discussion on parks and their use.

The Recreation and Community Services Department, known as “RCS”, is continuing to build even broader relations with the WCNA as plans for the “Walks In the Parks’ are now scheduled for September and will be announced in the upcoming City “Leisure Guide” . The WCNA is also looking froward to meeting with the leadership of other Community Groups in the City. This initiative by the RCS will bring together volunteers from groups and City Committees, allowing for increased awareness of programs being offered, plans in the works and the sharing of information that can benefit all. Knowing the people involved and seeking ways that we and they can cooperate for our mutual benefit is a long sought after objective and the WCNA is most pleased to see the RCS take up this initiative.

The WCNA Executive group held its monthly meeting and in over three hours, tackled many items, old and new.

>>>Planning for Community meetings in September, October and November is underway.

>>>The Annual General meeting of the WCNA will be held in January of 2012, when amendments to the WCNA Constitution will be considered. These amendments, among others,  will ask for changes that increases the size of the Executive group from the present four, as many projects are on hold, increasingly due to the already busy schedule each Executive member has subscribed to.

>>> A very detailed aerial view of the Parks from Melody Lane to Linwell Road now has had marks and companying photographs added showing worked agreed to by City Staff on the fourth Stroll though the Parks. This map will allow Staff and the WCNA to track work completed and work awaiting attention. While most concerns are taken care of in a speedy manner, there are a few that have lingered and being able to see and identify these will aid both Staff and the WCNA. This map, when finalized, will be added to this website.

>>> This arial view has also identified some great open spaces within the parks … Cindy Drive and Cherie Road have such open areas as does Walker’s Creek South … where “Go fly a Kite” can be truly accomplished. Kite flying for children is a fun activity and building the kite with a parent (or Grandparent) means added pleasure and memories ,while adding a new skill to inquisitive and active young minds. So… please, “GO FLY A KITE!!”

>>> City Council recently received a report titled “Tending the Garden City: The City of St. Catharines Sustainability Strategy”. This document is a future look at what will need to be considered as the City grows and develops. With social sciences and urban planners calling for more ‘walkable’ cities, with concerns for the cost of transportation and the affect of carbon based fuels on the quality of air and climate, with the necessity to look at the environment of our City as a healthy place to live, these guidelines are intended to guide Council in future decision making. The WCNA Executive has received a precis of this report and will consider its implications on our areas on interest. (The entire report, running as appendix “F” and at some 46 pages, can be viewed on the City website under the Council agenda for August 8, 2011).

And finally …

A ‘look-see’ today shows no activity on the planned new playground. So unless miracles happen, the opening of that new facility will not be accomplished by school opening on September 6th … but we can keep hoping it will be there in all its new magnificence on the “Star Gazing Night” on September 17th.

Your are encouraged to call the Police to advise them of abuse in the parks … specifically noise, vandalism, motorized vehicles in the parks … and even if has happened lately, when they appear too late or not at all, these notices to the police add to the suggestion that increased surveillance by them is required to keep our neighbourhoods and parks safe and secure. Use 905- 688-4111 to contact Police … 911 is only for dire emergencies. And please do also advise the WCNA of such calls … use the WCNA phone message machine … 905-688-5601 extension 1912 … or our email address “” .

Still no ‘Trolls’ seen under any Park bridges, but the hunt continues … and my 3 year old granddaughter is planning on wearing play clothes and showing me how well she can roll down the grassy hills …  vicarious fun awaits!!

Enjoy the parks … Please!!