Yes, but only in the bad ways.
Few things unite Toronto as much as raccoons. Everyone has a story, whether it be the inventive ways their friendly neighbourhood raccoon cracked the safe that is their green bin, or how the masked critters adorably peek through their patio doors at meal time.
With all due respect to the Trinity-Bellwoods white squirrel(s), raccoons may well be the iconic animal of Toronto. They’re everywhere, after all, and a nuisance, but provide a conversation topic as accessible as the weather or out-of-control real estate prices.
And so, naturally, raccoons became the focus of city hall today as council debated the $31 million contract for new raccoon-proof green bins that are projected to last 10 years.
In particular, two councillors challenged the idea that the new green bins could work, and said they would act like raccoons to prove it.
Jim Karygianis & Giorgio Mammoliti trying to demonstrate their belief that the green bin isn't raccoon-resistant pic.twitter.com/2Ou2gE6md8
— Don Peat (@reporterdonpeat) May 7, 2015
So they did. Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) and Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) tapped into their inner raccoons and put on a show, drawing CP24 cameras to their procyon aura with otherworldly skill. Being not-actual raccoons, they broke the bin. But, being actual buffoons, they insisted that in doing so in order to prove the city’s contract with the green bin providers was a bad move. All told, the stunt hijacked the morning and early afternoon of the third day of council’s May meeting.
Maybe we should pay attention and be concerned for these individuals. After all, with their behaviour, these two councillors raised a question of great public interest: are Mammoliti and Karygiannis really that different from raccoons? If we’re worried about raccoons taking over, shouldn’t we worry that their kind have not only infiltrated your green bin, but also city hall?
There’s a fearful symmetry to the bro-tandem that is Giorgio Mammoliti and Jim Karygiannis. They sit in mirror seats on either side of the council chamber, and their devotion to civic belligerence is matched only by Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North). They may be relatively small in number, but their influence on council can be overwhelming. Whether intentional or not—it is sometimes difficult to tell—the two councillors have the ability to overturn the green bin that is our civic discourse. Like today, they embrace that role.
They, like our more adorable raccoon friends, conduct themselves with a certain air: they are shameless, defiant, and if you ask them to get off your lawn, they will puff out their chests.
But, and this might be difficult to believe, there are differences between real raccoons and the raccoon-like councillors that so often overshadow council meetings.
Raccoons are a natural part of the urban ecosystem, and they’re just trying to get by like anyone else. So long as you secure your green bin and aren’t aggressive with them, they (mostly) won’t bother you. There’s probably a bylaw about this.
Mammoliti and Karygiannis—and this may be controversial—should be held to a higher standard than raccoons. After all, they’re city councillors. There’s any number of serious issues that are more germane to their constituents, like transit, housing, and youth unemployment, than how much media coverage they can generate (which is considerable, if this article is any indication). But unlike raccoons and their redeeming features, Mammoliti and Karygiannis don’t seek to co-exist in their environment, or slink stealth-like in the margins. Instead, they insist on commanding attention they do not deserve, as though speaking loudly is a form of credibility.
If Mammoliti and Karygiannis feel they must act like raccoons, which is their right, then we kindly ask that they find a green bin far away from city hall, and waddle away to where we can safely ignore them and their influence.