Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Toronto's 'Christiania'?

The staff picnic I have to attend on the Toronto Island next week got me to thinking, what would it be like to live over there? I've heard the nightmarish tales of ice jams causing ferry stoppages of over 6 weeks, the lack of basic amenities or services such as grocery stores or hospitals and the constant roar from the Docks... but who can argue with living in cottage country less than a kilometre from the CN Tower? Slurred as 'freeloaders', this battle-hardened cast of characters continues to hold and exert political influence considerably larger than their numbers would suggest. How exactly did this group of 600 people hijack and be the determining factor in a mayoral race in a metropolis of over 2 million anyways?

While the majority of visitors stay to the centre of the Island, the 'other' Island is an equally interesting place. Once a community of nearly 8,000 residents, Tommy Thompson and the Metrocrats razed the majority of island homes in the 1950s and 1960s. After lengthy - and sometimes unruly - battles with the City dating back over fourty years and involving such high profile island residents as Peter Czowski and Bob Fulford, the NDP finally stepped in and implemented legislation which saved the remaining 250 cottages in 1993. While some cottages may be in shambles, this pedestrian-only enclave requires permanent year-round residency as a requirement of admittance.

Recent Neo-con musings to revisit the so-called 'sweetheart' deal have been met with hostility both on and off the island. Living at the hands of a restless all-powerful landlord who wants you out will do that to you.

In other news, I especially enjoyed this recent quote from where else but the Sun, "If you want something done about the homeless, e-mail Coun. Doug Holyday at councillor_holyday@toronto.ca." At first glance, an unsuspecting reader could take such utterances as a sure sign of the apocalypse.


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