Yes, Toronto Must Have Downtown Parks

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Yes, Toronto Must Have Downtown Parks

But only if they adhere to the Movie Mayor's very strict rules and regulations.

High Park. Photo by Randy McDonald from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

High Park. Photo by Randy McDonald from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Man must exert his authority over all the beasts. Thus is it written in the Bible and, coincidentally, in the City of Toronto Noxious Weeds and Beasts Act of 1937.

As much as one might wish to see every square inch of a burgeoning city paved and built over with whatever a given era’s equivalent of mud cakes drywall or Herculean balsa wood might be, it should be acknowledged that a city cannot thrive unless its toiling workers can also catch a glimpse, or at least a peripheral whiff, of nature.

And so it behooves City authorities, of which I am the utmost, to cultivate and fertilize that which nature has left behind in order to direct citizens’ attention to pasteurized pastures, so to speak—if only to distract them ever-so-briefly from the relentless din and horror of their miserable micro-eons on earth.

As stewards of the City’s parks, we must adhere to certain underlying principles of urban recreational agriculture:

  • Keep people vertical
  • Throttle excessive frolicking
  • Ensure parks are uninhabitable after 5 p.m.
  • Stanch the flow of disintegrating picnic potato salad into the groundwater

I can confidently assert that we are generally in adherence with these maxims, be it through the incessant and aggressively odiferous re-sodding of High Park, the off-duty truancy officers who volunteer their time to scream at prostrate book readers in Ramsden Park, the electrical amplification of cicada screeching at dullish dusk in Withrow Park, or the installation of bank vault-level security doors in Davisville Park’s washrooms—too heavy for any but the most muscular or bladder-conscious to heave open.

That having been said, we do pride ourselves on providing the most median level of natural precincts—for example, I have recently approved the installation of perhaps two, but no more than three, temporary and fully transparent gazebos in City parks as an experiment in controlled outdoor human interaction.

Some have noted the deft craft of our park naming policy. Surely more people would wish to enter, say, Headless Chicken Pot Pie Amusement and Mood Amelioration Oasis than the off-putting Comptroller and Mrs. Cecil Willoughby Memorial Parkette? So our practice of only naming parks after the most obscure and inept City bureaucrats has worked like a linguistic repellent at park gates, controlling the flow of time-killing locals and unimaginative wandering tourists alike.

Speaking of parkettes, they are a Toronto invention (by me), effectively limiting the number of people who could possibly stand to be there and making it impossible for a group to assemble a quorum for a game of old-timey Pass the Shoelace.

It might have been Dickens, or perhaps it was Dick Van Dyke, who once declared that parks are the lungs of a great city. Well, in Toronto, we rarely allow the word “great” to be thrown around. And our parks are better defined as this city’s nostrils—holes to the soul best not thought about much.


Bert Xanadu is Toronto’s movie mayor circa 1973.

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