Call 'em flying rats if you want, but pigeons might soon be claiming their own neighbourhoods.
Artists Luis Jacob and Amos Latteier are the animal lovers behind Pigeon Condo, an outdoor art installation that was presented earlier in June on the northeast corner of Lakeshore and Yonge as part of Networked City.
The condo is actually a model of a 25-foot-long structure the two hope to built for their winged friends.
Sure, pigeons have gotten a bad rep over the years, but Latteier points out that "they're one of the few animals that can survive eating the garbage we create. They remind us of all the bad stuff we've done.'
The birds, once known as rock doves, are reviled by many because of the bombs of scat they drop. But a new condo, the artists say, might reduce crap around the city by concentrating the fowl in one place.
Municipal lofts that house thousands of the winged creatures have been built in Amsterdam as well as in Asia and the Middle East. Closer to home in Hamilton, the Dove Cote houses over 100 birds.
John Ewasyn of the Toronto Animal Rights Society says developers spend millions on human condos that displace thousands of animals. "Perhaps if pigeons had their own buildings they would not be so inclined to live around ours, and we could all get along."
The plan to build the structure's 150 luxury double-occupancy suites using metal scaffolding, laundry baskets and milk crates was originally backed by the city's culture division.
But the mayor's office thinks the $10,000 project's for the birds. According to senior mayoral adviser Chris Phibbs , "It just seems hurtful to install housing for pigeons where we're doing outreach for people under the Gardiner. The irony intended may not be appreciated.'
Culture division rep Terry Nicholson says he can see why the project is not being embraced. Studies need to be done, he says, because the condo's yellow and bright blue colours could be distractiing to drivers. Getting approval could take up to two years. "The city isn't being obstructionist. We're just doing our jobs.'
Jacob and Latteier are looking at other locations, most likely on private land, ideally where the birds live. Says Jacob, "Who knows? Maybe one day we'll have a Pigeon City."