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Introducing the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal

Council votes unanimously to rename the Island Ferry Terminal after the late city councillor, NDP leader, and Islander-at-heart.

Photo by {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/traverseearth/6920049430/”}Johnny Peacock{/a} from the {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist/”}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

Days before he married Olivia Chow on Algonquin Island, Jack Layton—the “cycling councillor,” as he was known at the time—rode directly into a newspaper box, injuring his knee. Hobbling, then walking, then dancing on a cane, they marked their wedding by planting a commemorative tree which still stands there.

As a supporter of the Toronto Island Public/Natural Science School, a fierce defender of Island residents in the face of development (especially in and around the community of Ward’s Island), and a champion of the waterfront in general, the Islands, in a way, were the heart of Layton’s Toronto. From social justice to the environment, it’s where the issues that spoke to his concerns as an activist, then a professor, then a politician, were best epitomized.

Perhaps Rob Ford had this in mind last week, when he proposed to city council that the Toronto Island Ferry Terminal be renamed in Layton’s honour. Some might argue that it was an attempt by a controversial mayor to soften his image, reaching across ideological lines to do something, well, nice. But if you listened to Ford talk about it, the gesture seems much more straightforward, and not at all calculated: the charismatic, friendly mentorship of Jack Layton, Ford’s seatmate at City Hall in those days, truly meant something to him.

Council agreed. Today, councillors voted unanimously (out of respect to council, Mike Layton [Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina] abstained) that the Toronto Island Ferry Terminal be renamed the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. For the man celebrated by so many Island residents, for whom his early ideological campaigns did so much, and for a city profoundly shaped by the vision of a leader it shared with the nation, there could hardly be a more touching tribute.

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