A dozen construction vehicles at the massive CityPlace condo development site at the foot of Spadina were sabotaged in the early morning hours last Friday (July 14) in what is being described as "an act of giving back to the planet" by an anonymous e-mailer claiming to be a member of the radical Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
"The purpose of these acts," which involved dirt being poured into the gas tanks and air filters of excavating equipment, "[was] not to cause any human harm," says the e-mail, but "only to slow the process of construction (destruction) against the planet Earth on which we all survive."
The Earth Liberation Front was founded in England in the early 90s and grew into a collection of autonomous cells dedicated to "direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural environment."
Although ELF cells have been active in Canada, the CityPlace action and two similar incidents at construction sites in Brantford on Monday (July 17) - again, an e-mail sent anonymously by a person claiming to be a member of ELF followed - are the first in years in which the group has been named.
ELF describes itself on its website as an underground organization with "no leadership, membership or official spokesperson." (An e-mail sent by NOW to ELF requesting comment has so far gone unanswered.) The statement says the group does not take responsibility for what individuals do in the name of ELF.
Angelo Gazzola, a site supervisor at CityPlace , estimates the cost of the damage at $2 million. He says a security guard was at the Spadina entrance on the night in question but didn't notice anything. He thinks whoever carried out the action had some knowledge of heavy equipment. The police, however, seem to be concentrating their efforts so far on disgruntled former employees.
CityPlace, which will consist of 20 high-rises, half a dozen low-rise structures and 100 townhomes stretching along Lakeshore from Bathurst to the Rogers Centre, put an end to a 30-year debate about the proper use of the old railway lands.
There have been debates about the area's density, some of which were addressed by the inclusion of a park. But area councillor Martin Silva says he hasn't heard many complaints. "We believe that [the development] is a good fit for that area of the city."
The anonymous e-mail connected to the Brantford actions, meanwhile, says, "Let us RISE UP and fight the machines that destroy the planet."