Despite assurances from City Hall that it wouldn't happen, a grove of 100-year-old willows to the east of the reopened Palais Royale is now being regularly used as a parking lot.
Why is this continuing when Mayor David Miller recently agreed, under community pressure, to save the contested strip of green?
The Palais Royale Corporation, the entertainment company that runs the Palais with an agreement from the city, isn't fessing up. Repeated calls from NOW to president Terry Tsianos requesting comment have gone unanswered.
Area councillor Sylvia Watson is adamant that she knows nothing about the car invasion of the willows. And though this is a problem she could easily solve, she has yet to file a consent that would allow parking enforcement to ticket vehicles parked illegally in the area.
Last month, council voted without debate to pave over another greenspace for Palais parking the grassy median between the east- and westbound lanes of Lakeshore Boulevard, despite the signatures of 2,662 residents who opposed the move.
The councillor says that there's not enough room in the the existing 200-car lot to the west. "Using it for the Palais would bar members of the public who drive down to the beach, and that's not fair.'
But locals are frustrated that more imaginative parking alternatives, like curbside parking on Lakeshore, aren't being considered. Such an option, says David White, founder of the Parkdale High Park Waterfront Group, "would effectively calm traffic along the boulevard in a way that would complement the adjacent parkland and transform its status from a traffic artery to a street."
This concept might prove difficult for a councillor who believes that the waterfront should be designed to accommodate the automobile. "While we'd all love to have jetpacks on our backs," says Watson, "the reality is that people are going to need to drive to the waterfront to enjoy it."
Green space protectors still hope the plan to annex the median can be deferred. The 20-year lease between the company and the city, which, among other items, loans the Palais Royale $500,000 to build on the Lakeshore median, has not yet been signed.
In the meantime, the community continues to mobilize, giving tongue-in-cheek awards to Councillor Watson for her "outstanding corporate advocacy" and for "placing first in park sales" while trying desperately to ensure that they are given a voice on the upcoming Western Beaches Master Plan.
Originally, the public was not going to be allowed input on the future of the waterfront until the master plan was fully drafted in September.
But Mayor Miller urged at the last policy and finance committee meeting that residents be allowed to participate.
But Elaine Baxter-Trahair, director of the city's Waterfront Secretariat, was clear that regardless of the community outcry, reopening past decisions like the one to pave over the Lakeshore median is not possible.
There's nothing like a parking lot with a view of the lake.