Parking it in Parkdale
WHAT: Parkdale World Peace Monument sit-in WHERE: 1303 Queen West
Carrying couches headed to landfill, chairs and a bench, local residents set about finishing a job Saturday (April 1) that the city and Parkdale BIA couldn't: creating a gathering place around the World Peace Monument next to the Parkdale Library.
The furniture-carrying crew instantly changed the face of the intersection where, moments earlier, smokers in front of the Blue Moon and Happy Time Restaurants across the street were the only form of life in sight.
Now, passersby pushing strollers stopped to chat and admire the work of those fed up with the city's and BIA's efforts to "clean up" the space. Benches originally installed there had been removed because of the BIA's claim that they attracted drug dealers and homeless people.
"If you don't have seating, then you don't have public space," says Kate Zankowicz, who organized the event as part of a move to convince the city to bring back the benches. She collected signatures for a petition while passing around tea and cookies.
"If this is going to be a focal point, doesn't it make sense that we should linger here?"
The monument's designer, Peter Dykhuis, has leant his name to Zankowicz's effort.
He calls the globe an "annoyingly unfinished brown ball" lacking many of his original community- focused design elements.
Others, like Stefan, who has a workshop nearby, wanted to send a more immediate message about gentrification forcing poor people out of the neighbourhood. He bolted a bench right to the pavement.
In a way, that bench is more representative of the community than the World Peace Monument.
On one side is a metal plaque created by local artist Rocky, depicting the recent fiery destruction of a local homeless man's van that got in the way of a planned condo development in the area.
"I'm just kind of pissed about how things are going upscale in Parkdale," says Stefan, who plans to replace the bench's 2-by-4s with different messages regularly.
And what happens if the city doesn't like his bench? "I'll build another one," he says.