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Scarborough hydro corridor to become butterfly sanctuary

In June 2012, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) planted 20 acres of soy in a hydro corridor between McCowan and Bellamy roads in Scarborough.

It was the beginning of what would eventually become a multi-year large-scale project to transform a relatively desolate stretch of land between subdivisions into a butterfly meadow and community park.

While the naturalization of the corridor has been an ongoing mission of the TRCA, the announcement last week of project-funding from the Weston Family Parks Challenge has sped up and expanded what was once a more piecemeal project.

“The Weston Family Parks Challenge, which provides us with $300,000 over the next three years, means the Scarborough Centre Butterfly Trail can really get going and we can work hard to keep naturalizing this area,” said John Stille, project manager for restoration and environmental monitoring with TRCA.

“We have a big community planting event already scheduled for this Saturday [details here].”

The Weston Family Parks Challenge, offered by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, is a three-year, $5-million initiative “to support innovative new park initiatives across the City of Toronto.”

The Weston Foundation is administrating the fund in partnership with the Toronto Park People, a Toronto nonprofit that advocates for better parks.

While TRCA will do the majority of the work creating the butterfly habitat (which involves, among other things, planting 20,000 shrubs in 40 hectares of meadow), they also plan to work closely with schools and community groups along the way.

“We’ve already connected with local schools who are helping us with the planting and stewardship of the meadow,” said Stille. “There seems to be lots of excitement from students and teachers about this project.”

Indeed, Stille emphasizes, the community has been onboard since the project’s early stages. Not only did TRCA have the enthusiastic support of the area’s councillor, Glenn De Baeremaeker [Scarborough Centre], the public consultation meetings held in May and June of 2012 revealed widespread support of the project.

“We’ve just finished planting our first meadow and it looks amazing. Birds, bees, butterflies and beautiful flowers are already moving into this old, barren hydro corridor,” Coun. De Baeremaeker  said in a statement. “This project is turning a green desert into a beautiful butterfly sanctuary.”

When complete, the Scarborough Centre Butterfly Trail will stretch 3.5 kilometres from McCowan Road to Scarborough Golf Club Road, and, in addition to new wildflowers and butterflies, will include trails and paths for the enjoyment of visitors.

This article first appeared on Yonge Street.