On any given Tuesday evening, it's hard not to notice the brightly painted signs reading, "Stop cancer" and "Phase out coal-fired plants Canada-wide" at the corner of University and College -- especially at the height of smog-creating rush-hour traffic.
Since Earth Day, Paradigm Shift Environmental Alliance (PSEA), a non-profit of academics and students, has been holding weekly vigils on the steps of Ontario Power Generation's concave glass tower to remind passersby that clean air is not a luxury.
PSEA is calling on Premier McGuinty to keep his promise to close all of Ontario's coal-fired plants. The group is also pushing for both Canada-wide and global phase-outs of coal.
It's difficult to tell whether the message is being taken seriously or just pissing some people off. Posters put up by the group in front of Mount Sinai Hospital and at the street corners have all been ripped down.
I've joined the group to hand out leaflets about thousands of Canadians dying prematurely every year from the effects of smog. No sooner do I start wondering whether leafleting makes a difference than two OPG security guards interrupt us, demanding that PSEA pack up its banners. The group's been here four months, but it's the first time this has happened.
OPG spokesperson John Earl tells me later that the show of force was in response to PSEA draping one of its signs over OPG's.
PSEA won't be deterred.
Says PSEA organizer Ivona Vujica, a self-described "eco-refugee" from the Bosnian civil war, "If we want to survive, coal has to go."
(PSEA's vigil takes place every Tuesday between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. For info, contact Vujica at firstname.lastname@example.org.)