Workshop poses solutions to troubled Highland watershed

Community members are banding together to provide eco-friendly solutions to Highland Creek’s water drainage issues.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) asked Scarborough residents to attend several workshops last weekend where they helped identify ways the community can remedy issues experienced in some neighbourhoods by Highland Creek.

A main priority of the TRCA is the prevention of pollution from pouring into the creek which empties into Lake Ontario — one source of the city’s drinking water.

Workshop facilitator for TRCA, Nancy Chater, says the project aims to educate residents of their ability to change the ways in which they may contribute to the pollution that flows into their water source.

“The objective of the project is really to build the capacity of residents and community members in three different areas across the highland watershed to take action in their own yard, street, schools, community, to address the dangers of the watershed,” Chater said. “Those being largely urban storm water runoff and the lack of open green space biodiversity.”

According to the TCRA’s website, Highland Creek has more than 85 km of water channels draining a substantially sized urbanized area. Chater says this makes the ways in which residents treat their property an important factor in the sorts of pollutants entering the water system.

“All of our watersheds are river watersheds which drain into Lake Ontario. The Highland Creek watershed drains into Lake Ontario and as we all know Lake Ontario is the common source for our drinking water,” Chater said. So what happens to the creek affects the lake and in fact the quality of our life.”

Some of the solutions brought forward by residents included: planting trees and shrubs to absorb storm water, establishing a volunteer committee which would help clean along the stream bank, and filtering creek water by planting along the stream banks.

A consulting team had composed a draft plan based on the feedback received from residents in earlier workshops in February. The organization hopes to put some of the suggestions into action by the end of May.