Monique D’Sa stands with her children in front of a newly revised banner on the north side of Fairfield Park.
Monique D’Sa is ecstatic. For more than a year, the Etobicoke resident and environmental chair of the West Kingsway Ratepayers’ Association (WKRA) has been campaigning to preserve a TDSB-owned parcel of green space that, over the past twenty years, has become a de facto part of Etobicoke’s Fairfield Park. In 2009, the school board declared the land surplus and instructed its real estate subsidiary, the Toronto Lands Corporation, to court developers and find a buyer, pushing the community to act.
Yesterday, D’Sa, the WKRA, and other concerned community members finally saw their efforts pay off. In one of its final sessions before the October 25 municipal elections, Toronto’s City Council passed a motion moved by Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn to acquire the land from the school board for $6.5 million (the price tag also includes an adjacent parking lot used by Fairfield Seniors Centre).
“The greenspace is a substantial field in an area that will experience substantial growth in population in the coming years,” Milczyn told Torontoist. “The potential of the open space to be actively used for recreational uses such as a soccer pitch will be essential to provide area residents with active parkland…I was not surprised by the Council support as…[the] councillors recognize the importance of protecting existing publicly owned green spaces.”
The final council vote: forty-three to one. Care to guess who voted against the motion? We’ll give you a hint: he hates spending.
A Rob Ford volunteer posing with a “Ford for Mayor” bumper sticker during a photo op at the WKRA’s “Save the Greenspace” rally on April 10, 2010.
Yes, mayoral candidate Rob Ford was the only councillor to vote against the motion. Normally, we’d just chalk this up to Ford’s penny pinching, sigh, and call it a day, but the Etobicoke North councillor’s vote wasn’t expected to go the way it did.
In mid-April, we attended the WRKA’s “Save the Greenspace” rally at Fairfield Park, and while Ford wasn’t able to make the festivities, he did send a contingent of his campaign workers to cook hot dogs, pose for photos, and distribute “Ford for Mayor” bumper stickers, which gave the impression that he supported the cause.
“I was surprised by councillor Ford’s lone dissenting vote,” Milczyn told us. “At the public rally…councillor Ford’s supporters were present expressing his support for the local community.”
Perhaps Ford later changed his mind, or his campaign didn’t know that he opposed the cause, or maybe he never intended to support it anyway. Unfortunately, we don’t know: we asked the Ford campaign to comment, but they didn’t respond to our inquires.
Ford likes to say that he’s “as honest as the days are long.” For the residents of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Wednesday’s vote would have been a great opportunity for him to prove it.
Photos by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist.