Sacred Fire and Tree Ceremonies began on January 30 in Pearen Park
Metrolinx and the Ford Government plan to build a 1.5km section of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) as an elevated concrete structure running through Fergy Brown Park, Eglinton Flats and over the Humber River (the rest of the ECWE will be underground). This parkland is a sensitive ecosystem, wildlife corridor and home to Threatened and Endangered species, migratory bird route, the urban forest is a flood and erosion protector, natural cooler and sound barrier, and the parkland is used for many ceremonial, recreational, sport and social activities.
Indigenous youth and elders, with support of allies, are exercising their rights to hold a peaceful Sacred Fire and perform four-day honouring ceremonies for each one of the thousands of trees that Metrolinx and the Ford Government plan to destroy. Fire Keepers will keep the Sacred Fire burning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until Metrolinx and the Ford Government agree to pause work on the elevated section and support an Indigenous-led environmental assessment of the impacts of elevated section.
The Indigenous community calls Pearen Park the “Eastern Doorway of the Land” to the parkland. Metrolinx and the Ford Government plan to remove trees in the southern half of Pearen Park and on the eastern side of Fergy Brown Park as soon as February or March.
The Indigenous-led coalition is led by ENAGB Youth Agency, which has a ceremonial lodge, sweat lodge, gardens and land-based educational programs just north of the proposed elevated LRT on the Humber River and conducts education and ceremonies in the surrounding parkland. Metrolinx never consulted with or notified ENAGB Youth Agency about the 1.5km elevated section of the ECWE.
The Indigenous-led coalition includes the American Indian Movement, and allies include Stop the Trains in Our Parks (STOP) advocacy group, the Mount Dennis Community Association MDCA) and the Mount Dennis eco-Neighbourhood Initiative (MDeNI), as well as many other community members.
How can you get involved?
Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Pearen Park for a social gathering, or drop by anytime.
When you visit, ask to adopt and tie a cotton ribbon around a tree.
Have firewood you don’t need? Drop it off in Pearen Park or email us.
Email us to volunteer with the coalition.
About the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE)
The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) is an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
The ECWE will run from Mount Dennis Station west to Renforth Drive. Metrolinx and the Ford Government plan to build most of the ECWE underground (the section that runs through Etobicoke), but in Mount Dennis, a priority neighbourhood and one of the most diverse areas of the city, they plan on constructing the LRT as an elevated concrete structure running through parkland (Fergy Brown Park, Eglinton Flats and over the Humber River) to west of Scarlett Road.
Metrolinx and the Ford Government plan to put massive shafts in Fergy Brown Park and just west of Scarlett Road where the LRT trains would surface from underground, as well as massive elevated stations over Jane Street and Scarlett Road that would require even more encroachment on the parkland.
Metrolinx and the Ford Government plan remove thousands of trees and establish a construction staging zone for approximately a decade in large section of Pearen Park, which is one of the few children’s playgrounds in Mount Dennis.
Metrolinx and the Ford Government have presented the elevated section of the ECWE as a done deal without any meaningful consultation with community. Local MPP Michael Ford campaigned on this issue in the June 2022 election stating he would be “in the best position to bring [the community’s] concerns forward to Metrolinx.” STOP has requested to meet with MPP Ford dozens of times to no avail.
We believe that Metrolinx and the Ford Government have not met the requirements tied to receiving billions in Federal funding for the ECWE. Including requirements to have “engagement processes that enable early community involvement inclusive of local communities and diverse voices and stakeholders, and opportunities to access decision-makers and influence decisions.”
Fergy Brown Park, Eglinton Flats and the Humber River are home to many Endangered and Threatened species, including: Little Brown Myotis bats- (Endangered)
Small-footed Myotis bats (Endangered)
Monarch Butterfly (Endangered)
Barn Swallows (Threatened)
Chimney Swifts (Threatened)
Peregrine Falcons and many other birds (classified as Special Concern)
Metrolinx is in the process of obtaining tree removal permits and have stated they plan to start clear cutting trees before the migratory bird cut-off of April 1, 2023.
The increase in transit in Mount Dennis has attracted a number of residential development applications, with more to come. This parkland will become even more important to the community with more people living in high-rises in the surrounding area.
The Humber River and valley is part of the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt was created in 2005 to prevent urban sprawl, protect farmland for food security, and work with the Growth Plan https://www.greenbelt.ca/learn. In 2017, the urban region’s 21 river valleys were added, including the Humber. https://www.greenbelt.ca/greenbelt_protected_urban_river_valleys
Check out this video with drone footage of the parkland: https://youtu.be/FwEBQB2iZLY