Manulife Paddle the Don 2014

I had the pleasure of participating in Paddle the Don this year as the Council representative from Richmond Hill. We started our Canoe Journey near Eglinton Avenue and Leslie Street, but I joked that I could have started less than 1 km from my house in Richmond Hill because that is where the Don River begins. In fact all of the branches of the Don River start on the south side of the Oak Ridges Moraine before they empty into Lake Ontario, at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway. One of these branches starts in Ward 4 Richmond Hill just a bit north of the Mill Pond. As we paddled down the river we were reminded how much the condition of the Don River has improved in the recent past – on its road to recovery from sustaining significant damage to the river environment in the the period before the 1970s.

It is really important that this environmental recovery be allowed to continue and that we do not let other rivers anywhere in our country become damaged like this again. Premiere Kathleen Wynne echoed this sentiment in her opening remarks where she pointed out that thriving industry is curial to our province’s economy but it cannot be at the expense of rivers like the Don.

Paddle the Don is a celebration of the Don River and an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy aquatic ecosystem in our rivers and lakes. Congratulations to the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for putting this event on for the past 20 years. Greater awareness of this beautiful river and  a unique opportunity to see the city, and especially the Don Valley, from a very different perspective, are the rewards available to participants. It was a truly wonderful event.

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Premiere Kathleen Wynne speaking to paddlers before the Paddle the Don.

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Premiere Wynne addresses the crowd before we set off on our Paddle

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Passing under the Bloor St Viaduct

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The crew including Willow the dog!

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Under a low bridge

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At the end of the journey in the Keating Channel at the mouth of Lake Ontario

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The Don River is quite clean looking in most areas – but this is a reminder that we still have work to do. I am convinced we need to do something about plastic packaging especially plastic drink bottles