Augusta avenue is buzzing. the garden got towed! How do you tow a garden? Well, it's a little easier when it's planted in a car.
Since the end of June, there's been one less parking space in Kensington Market.
Streets Are for People, the gang behind Pedestrian Sundays and the upcoming parking-meter party and parade for World Car Free Day September 22, planted the reclaimed junker.
The group dedicated to "engaging citizens and governments through creative and playful street actions" cut the old clunker open, filled it with soil and donated plants, then covered the bare grey metal with paintings of flowers and wildlife to make a point about the absurdity of car culture.
For months now, the flourishing garden has been winning the affections of passersby, mothers who showed their children how to rub the mint or sage and smell their fingers, butterflies and buzzing bees, tourists posing for photos. Yes, grass can grow where the violent explosion of pistons once roared.
But it seems the hand-painted licence plate, "Ontario, yours to recover," wouldn't do for one 14 Division cop, who recently had the green machine ticketed and towed.
The officer was unswayed by the local councillor's endorsement of the community art project or by a letter from the area supervisor for parking enforcement, Louis Isaacs, assuring Streets Are for People that the car wouldn't be towed.
Member Yvonne Bambrick got word and immediately called Isaacs, who caught up with the garden halfway to the Keele and St. Clair yard. Three hours and $234 later, the garden was home again, but questions remain.
Who could possibly object to such a well-loved artwork? And why didn't the cop who ordered it towed listen to the protests of passersby and locals? Did he not see the sign identifying the garden as a community art project?
Peter Wong at the Lieza Mart across the street sees the garden car as a symbol of people power. "Why does every space have to be for cars? The city needs to breathe."
Vince Corriero, a guest at the College Hostel, loves the "flower power in the concrete jungle." Formerly of Toronto, he now lives in Bari, Italy, where he moved to "escape Toronto's pollution."
Jana Schreiber, visiting from Germany, tells me that cities there encourage alternate transportation and restrict the use of older, more polluting vehicles on smog days.
The skaters outside Adrift aren't so supportive. Aidan Johnston is the first to pipe up. "I hate it." When I ask why, he can't really say. Virgil chimes in, "It makes me feel like a bad person for having a car, like you guys are judging me."
Another skater offers, "I bet it was old Eagle-Eye" who called the cops.
The neighbourhood curmudgeon, now looking down from his perch on the second-storey roof of his house, declines to comment.
The garden car is back now. The cameras are snapping, the people are smiling, the bumblebees are buzzing, and the little ones who climb aboard to sniff the greenery are happy.