December 14, 2021 (3 Minute Read)
By Nicole Cedrone, Managing Editor of Community and Culture Events
Photos By Silas Johnson, Video Editor
Heart Lake is a picturesque community located in the north end of Brampton.
A large part of the Heart Lake community is made up of the Heart Lake Conservation Area, located at 10818 Heart Lake Rd. The park offers over 6 km’s of scenic nature trails, fishing, boat and canoe rentals, as well as 14 private picnic sites with barbecue facilities. The conservation also offers a splash pad during the summer hours to help local families and people of all ages with welcome relief on those hot summer days.
The conservation area continues to work closely with students, businesses and the local community to preserve the local ecological environment, which includes tree planting, annual re-stocking the lake with fish, and the maintenance of an extensive network of scenic walking and biking trails.
People walking or driving along Heart Lake Road will notice a small fence line along the west side of the road, bordering the conservation area. The fencing was installed in an effort to protect turtles, snakes and frogs from crawling or slithering across the road and being struck by vehicles. Prior to the fence, due to the increase in vehicle traffic, there was an increasing threat to the local wildlife.
I spoke at length with long time Heart Lake resident and community advocate Leo O’Brien about the fencing which separates the conservation area from a marshy, wetland located on the other side of Heart Lake Rd. The spike in deaths to wildlife prompted the local community into action. Something had to be done.
In response, O’Brien helped organize his neighbours to work closely with the Toronto And Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), and the City of Brampton, to build an eco fence.
Part of the process involved gathering data on the movement of the amphibians and small animals. The program was staffed by local volunteers who volunteered their time to help O’Brien count and track how many, and what type, of amphibians and animals were being killed by vehicles. The sad and often gruesome task played a vital role understanding the level of impact vehicle traffic was having on the local ecology, which in turn, led to the eventual approval and installation of the eco fence.
An eco fence line actually has tunnels built into it so that small wildlife can easily enter tunnels located along the path and cross safely to the other side of the road and into the wetlands.
Local residents have even set-up a Facebook page called “Heart Lake Turtle Troopers” and formed a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the turtle population around Heart Lake (and Professor’s Lake located further southeast).
The Heart Lake Turtle Troopers are volunteers who lay protective boxes over turtle eggs to stop wildlife from eating them. The boxes are specially made to not only protect the turtle eggs from predators. The holes in the boxes allow newborn turtles to hatch and leave the protective box safely. O’Brien proudly displayed proudly a beautifully decorated storage shed located at nearby Loafer’s Lake where the Troopers store all the equipment and tools they need to construct the boxes.
Loafer’s Lake is another park located in the community and operated by the City of Brampton. O’Brien gave us a tour of the area and showed us how the turtle boxes were put together and used to cover the turtle eggs.
Adjacent to Loafer’s Lake is one of Brampton’s community libraries, the Cyril Clarke Library. The library offers a range of services, including a digital library of books and movies, e-learning, wi-fi, printing services and student related programming. The library is wheelchair accessible and has a implemented a robust contactless pick up service in response to Covid-19 concerns.
After a busy afternoon of touring, it was time to get some food! So we stopped in at another Heart Lake community favourite, Venezia Pizza. Located in Heart Lake at 230 Sandalwood Parkway East, Venezia has been providing local residents with some of the best pizza you can eat since 1963. Whether you order one of their specialties or make your own; you can be sure of experiencing some of the best homemade pizza around.
Needless to say the pizza was a fabulous and tasty end to our Heart Lake tour.
While we may all dream of sunny beaches and exotic vacations, we often forget that some of the best places to visit and appreciate are often right in front of our noses.
Heart Lake is one of those hidden gems that benefits many Bramptonians.