Saturday, January 4, 2020
Kipling Avenue comes to a dead end just north of Steeles Avenue where Thakeray Park Cricket Grounds are. The large hill on the property is a mound of household waste that was placed here when Thakeray Landfill was in operation. The site is 45 hectares and contains 2.2 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste. After closing in 1978 it was turned over to the city in 1979 to be managed as a park. However, ongoing methane gas leakage has caused the site to be under utilized until now. A proposal has been put forward to convert the methane into electricity as is currently done at Beare Road Landfill site in Rouge National Urban Park. The city earns $2 million each year selling electricity back into the grid. To check out this park we used the free parking for the cricket grounds.
A fresh coating of snow was on all the trees as we set out for our walk, reminding us of how beautiful winter can be.
As we made our way along the north side of the former landfill we began seeing sets of coyote tracks. Their footprints tend to run is a single line unlike a dog which shows left and right side as distinctly separate tracks. We could hear two coyote howling nearby and wondered if they may have entered mating season a little early. The season doesn’t usually start until late January but we found a site where a coyote had urinated and left considerable amount of blood as well. This could indicate a female in heat.
The sides of the former landfill have been planted with trees to promote an eventual forest cover for the site.
The Canadian National York Subdivision was built to connect the new MacMillan Yard with various lines on the east end of Toronto. The line was started in 1959 and completed in 1965 through what was open farm land at the time. The bridge over the Humber River was built in 1962 and has been added to the list of Humber River Heritage Bridges. It features rare A-Frame reinforced concrete piers that carry a single line over the river. The line expands into double track just west of this bridge.
The railway approaches the river on a high berm that affords great photos of the frequent trains. The early morning snow fall had already melted away by the time we had walked north to the Vaughan Sports Complex and back.
Taking the trail to the left we climbed the hill that represents the former land fill. A grove of trees stands at the top of the hill. Another trail beside these trees leads back down the hill toward Steeles Avenue. The Trail continues under the road and eventually leads to the site of the former Country Hospital For Sick Children. We followed the trail for a short distance before returning to look at the mini airfield on the top of the land fill.
Radio controlled aircraft became popular in the late 1960’s and for several years people met at the Keele Street Reservoir south of Steeles to fly their aircraft. Fear of fuel leaking into the water supply led to the banning of flying there in 1972. The club moved around looking for a home until 1982 when they located the Thackeray Park site that became their new home.
Initially the landing strip was made of dirt and as the landfill started to settle it became very uneven. Water would pond in the field in the spring time. In 2000 about ten truck loads of soil were brought in to level the ground again. The sun shelter was added in 2002 and a solar power charging station installed in 2012. By 2014 there were a lot of smaller airplanes using the field and they were having a hard time taking off and landing on the grass runway. It was decided to install a Geo Textile runway along with six pilot stations to meet the needs of the club for the near future. Sixty feet of grass landing strip is maintained for those who prefer this option.
The Humber Valley Radio Control Flyers have a membership of over 100 who work together to maintain the field, keep the litter picked up and cut the grass on the landing strip.
It will be interesting to see what Toronto Parks does with the old landfill site when it is declared safe for use as a park.
Another story of a park located on a former landfill site can be found at this link: Beare Road
Google Maps Link: Thackeray Park
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