This morning at about 10 a.m., Ken Wood and some of the other residents living on Lansdowne Avenue heard buzzsaws.
Today was the day when construction on their street was to begin, with the aim of narrowing it down from four lanes to two. The move is already contentious: residents are unhappy about, as the Globe put a few days ago, “increased congestion and…a lack of consultation [with councillor Adam Giambrone],” and every other house, from Bloor south to College, now sports a “GIAMBRONE DON’T NARROW LANSDOWNE!” sign on their front lawn.
But this morning’s buzzsaws, of course, weren’t for the road itself, but for the trees that line it outside of West Toronto Collegiate. The move was a total surprise for the residents, as the narrowing plan called for more trees and flowers and seems to have mentioned nothing about removing the existing ones. So, in protest, the appropriately-named Wood grabbed a chain and wrapped himself and it around one of the trees that hadn’t been cut down yet—the one south of him, bare of leaves and branches in the photo above, already had been. The protesters who joined him periodically throughout today (there were about five when we showed up at 3:30, but people had been dropping in and out) were a diverse group: some, like Wood, were actually for the street’s reduction; others were against it; but all objected to the removal of the trees, as well as to the process that the renovation has taken so far, specifically the aforementioned lack of consultation between Giambrone and the residents. When one protester called the office today about the trees, for instance, she was told that they were being cut down because “they’re sick,” and that, in total, about seven to twelve trees are going to be cut down and replaced with saplings.
While today’s protest had that typical air of Canadian niceness, with protesters offering the policeman standing guard a water bottle and residents from the street offering Wood another one as we talked to him, today was just the beginning. Wood says that he’s willing to go to jail to protect the trees, and that the second he hears those buzzsaws drone tomorrow morning, he’ll be back out again, chain and all.
Photo by David Topping.