Toronto Orienteering Club combines hobby with public service

TOC and TRCA team up to create the first Morningside Park Eco Race

The Toronto Orienteering Club is constantly travelling through Toronto’s parks, and lately they’ve turned their passion into an opportunity to help clean up the community.

On Oct. 5, the club teamed up with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to hold first ever “Amazing Morningside Park EcoRace.”

It was the first time that the Orienteering Club has ever used their hobby to help clean a Toronto park.

“I have been orienteering for about five, six years. I found going through this park and into the ravines, I was astonished at how dirty it was,” race director Alison Waddell said. “I think a lot of people don’t even see it because they don’t always go into those areas.”

Waddell was the brain behind the race as she thought that an orienteering event combined with a cleanup was a natural fit.

“So I thought that we’re out there all the time anyway…I kind of dreamt it up and called up TRCA and they were on board immediately, which was awesome,” Waddell said.

Alexis Wood is the project manager for the Highland Creek Watershed and the TRCA representative who help create the EcoRace.

“We just lent our expertise of the area and really tried to get the word out, decide which park to pick and organizing the cleanup side, because we have all the experience with the cleanup side of things,” Wood said.

What is special about the EcoRace is the potential to hold more of them in other Toronto parks and cleaning them on a wider scale.

“We hope to see this carry over to other parks and it depends on whether the Orienteering Club has maps for other events,” Wood said.

The Toronto Orienteering Club says that they have maps for almost every park in the city, so more events can be held to benefit other popular areas.

And if the sight of a rusted out barbeque being picked out of the park is any indication, the first eco race was a success.

The Top Orienteering Award was given to Ran Guin after he scored 405 points. The Top Litter Collector Award went to the team of Larrukov/Gluck who picked up 29 kilograms of garbage from the park.