“It is time for the city to realize that, for visitors and Torontonians, panhandling is an issue.”
ames Robinson, executive director of the Downtown Yonge BIA, blaming poor people for the sad state of tourism in T.O.
Walking through Grange Park last Wednesday, April 4, the challenge was to not get run over by people armed with giant nets chasing human butterflies. Part of the Ontario College of Art and Design's "activate the park" series of public space demos by first-year undergrads, the idea, says co-organizer Shawn Micallef, "is to create some sort of distraction and get people to stop." Hence, the girl beside me, student Kim Krueckl, wearing an Al Gore mask and shouting out random environmental facts. Across the park, past the giant Jenga blocks and huge human foosball table, a race begins to find the miniature Planet Earth, a tennis ball somewhere at the bottom of a pool full of water bottles. "The ref is a sea monster," says exhibitor David Bell. "The game gets people thinking about the environment." And in the distance you can hear the human butterflies gently flapping their wings in the safety of a faux paradise.
Racking up designs
Why the hell don’t we turn over the bike racks, part of the city’s so far failed street furniture project, to the psychiatric survivors at Meeting Place, an adult drop-in operated by St. Christopher House? With the help of local artist Phil Sarazen, a group of them have welded beautiful sculptures that double as bike racks. These trees, butterflies and gargoyles springing up throughout Parkdale (four have already been installed) show how, with a little imagination, even something as pedestrian as a bike lock-up can be turned into inspiring artwork.