Last week, council voted against moving forward with construction of a $22 million pedestrian and cycling bridge, that would have spanned the rail tracks near Fort York. Speaking on the item, Councillor David Shiner remarked that the mere commemoration of the War of 1812 — the city will mark the 200th anniversary of the war next year — was not sufficient reason to build this piece of infrastructure, which would have provided the kind of architectural flourish on our waterfront that helps to define cities.
Also in the news last week? A story about an item coming before the Executive Committee today, that would see the city assume control of management of Casa Loma. For 75 years, the urban castle has been in the hands of the Kiwanis Club. With attendance levels dwindling, the city must now determine new strategies for the facility.
Taking these two items — and others — and putting them side by side, the Toronto Star’s Brett Popplewell wrote an absolutely vicious, satirical screed on Sunday, cutting to the heart of our current political divide. A divide that pits those who believe in a grand, urban vision for Toronto against those that believe we must put off any notion of city building until we reach some arbitrary point of popular satisfaction with the city’s finances:
But for the odd occasion when tree-hugging architectural lovers have stood before the bulldozers to protect things like Old City Hall or Union Station (as they did in the 1970s) this city has generally chosen to either demolish its history or neglect it.
Yet now we struggle, [General Manager for Economic Development & Culture Michael] Williams says. Struggle over who’s going to pay for the footbridge to Old Fort York. Struggle over who’s going to pay to sandblast the graffiti off the bricks inside Casa Loma.
And for what?
So the children can enjoy Old Fort York? It’s a grassy knoll with a few cannons on display.
And Casa Loma? It’s a drafty old relic, but one Hazell and others recognize as a symbol. A symbol of a town whose citizens once dared to dream that Toronto might actually stand as the second city of the British Empire.
What could they have possibly been thinking.
So good. See also this reddit thread, where someone takes the headline a little too seriously.