Shoreline at Risk
The shoreline of East Point and Grey Abbey in East Scarborough represents one of the longest remaining natural shorelines in the Toronto region but the TRCA have plans to pave this beach to connect their waterfront project.
The shoreline begins in the east at the mouth of Highland Creek and continues west to Guildwood. Over 3 km in length, a walk along the shore can take almost 2 hours from one end to the other. One of the most notable attributes of the shoreline is the adjacent bluffs running the entire length of the beach
The area is also comprised of other unique features. The undeveloped land along the table of the bluffs is 55 ha of mixed habitat including marsh, meadow, fields and forest. The area has a number of important designations as recognized by the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority:
Environmentally Significant Area (ESA)
Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI)
Flyway for migrating birds
This important green space is part of a larger natural corridor that links natural spaces along rivers and ravines away from the lake as well as along side the lake. These corridors are needed for maintaining a healthy wildlife population. It was noted many years ago by city planning documents that these are important areas to preserve rather than fragment and it's because of this that they continue to be such a healthy habitat for wildlife and for birds. As a stopover location for migrating songbirds, the area is well populated by bank swallows with many nesting colonies along the entire length of the shore. The Bank Swallow is a threatened species that has faced a rapid global decline of 90% in the last 35 years. They nest along the upper edges of the bluffs and as an aerial insectivore they have a healthy food supply of insects which are extremely plentiful along the natural sand beaches.
The area also has a rich biodiversity with one of the highest percentages of native plants in the Toronto region; over 55% native to the area. Other plants and vegetation in the area offer an interesting window into cultural history and provide a unique glimpse back in time. Some of the rare meadow plants can be traced back to the turn of the century when seeds would have been spread along the railway as plants were carried from the western prairies into Ontario.
One of the most remarkable features along the stretch of shoreline is Grey Abbey Ravine in the west section. The ravine is over 700 ft in length running north away from the lake and at it's widest and deepest area spans roughly 250 ft across with a drop as deep as 200 ft down. This ravine offers a unique look at the geology of the bluffs and a rare opportunity to witness the process of erosion. At certain times of year, most often in winter and early spring you can watch the clay literally break away before your eyes as the eastern side of the ravine warms up from the heat of the afternoon sun contributing to thawing of exposed clay.
Let's work together to see this remarkable shoreline preserved. Conservation needs to be at the forefront of the TRCA's agenda and the goal of an accessible waterfront should not involve destroying the natural sand shore. This shoreline is part of our environmental heritage and we want it to remain in it's natural state as a legacy to future generation.