Here on Toronto’s “Danforth Peninsula,” that strangely unrecognized spit of land that extends from the highlands of Scarborough westward to a line dangerously close to the “real” Toronto, we have a war on our hands. It’s going to be resolved one way or another on election day, November 13, but in the meantime it bears scrutiny.
But first, who or what is the “Danforth Peninsula?” Why has it never been recognized for what it is? What is its potential?
For answers to these questions, we turn to our resident urban designer, Jacob Allderdice.
The ‘Danforth Peninsula’ is bounded to the south by Lake Ontario, to the west by the Don Valley, and to the North by the Taylor Creek Ravine. Historically, the peninsula consisted of farms, marshes and small creeks running down to the lake. At a later time it held many of the polluting industries that typically locate east of any city’s bespoke citizenry (assuming the wind blows from the west): today it’s a bedroom community for the rest of the city and an emblem for the badge that claims “Nothing Ever happens in the East End.” People live here because it’s close to somewhere they need to get to but not so close the real estate is outrageously priced. People live here because they work in the film industry that’s built itself into the fabric along the waterfront. People live here because they’re anti-snobs who hate (and secretly envy) the west end’s plethora of cultural activities. And people live here because they always have: they’re “east end” boys and girls: they like the waterfront and the ravines that define the margins; they like the churning, pedestrian-friendly shopping strip that’s the Danforth (west of Pape); they hold dear a hope that things will get better, somehow.
Some of us in the latter camp even work for that “better” world.
The peninsula is bisected on a North-south line by Coxwell Avenue and on an east-west line by Danforth Avenue: these lines also divide the peninsula into four of the city’s 44 wards: ward 29, reprehensible by councilor Case Ootes: ward 30, represented by councilor Paula Fletcher; ward 31, represented by councilor Janet Davis; and ward 32, represented by Sandra Bussin.
One of these wards is not like the other. Can you tell us which before we finish this paragraph?
Yes, it’s Case Ootes who stands out. Is it because he’s a man among three women? Is it because he’s a conservative among three progressives? Is it because he’s an old-guard, suburban-style pro-car goon, a malingering Mel Lastmanite among folks who generally “get it,” in Mayor David Miller’s inimitable phrasing?
Yes, yes, and, well, check the voting record and decide for yourself.
But there’s more.
Case Ootes, more than any other elected offal in the city, represents failure: failure on the part of the progressive vote to move beyond the dark clowning that typified Toronto during the era of Premier Mike Harris: a time that reigns in infamy for its many undemocratic and Machiavellian events. With the ineffectual buffoon Mel Lastman at the Mayor’s throne in City Hall, it was this dark period that saw the city amalgamated from five cities to one, and the removal of power from the hands of people to be placed in the hands of big business and their lackey politicians. Yes, and it was this same Mel Lastman, whose name will forever be stamped on the horns [shurely you mean “antlers?” –ed.] of the many fiberglas moose that artists sold their souls for the chance to “decorate” (moose that even today can be found in nooks and crannies all over the city), to whom our own Case Ootes swore fealty as “the city’s first Deputy Mayor.”
With Lastman finally unelected in 2003, the city was promised a “new broom” in the hands of Mayor David Miller. But the Danforth Peninsula still bears the imprint of the old guard. Now, three years later, the time has come to rid city hall of the “embarrassment from ward 29,” Mr. Odious.
So we are here to tell you about that movement: the ABC movement. No, it’s not a new move to ensure literacy among our many immigrants from the Netherlands and elsewhere. In short, ABC stands for “Anybody But Case:” It’s a movement that’s under the breaths of everyone who lives in ward 29, which fact alone will mean that Mr. Odious (who lives deep in neighbouring ward 31 and is ineligible therefore even to cast a vote for himself) will not have heard it.
But it’s out there. We have heard it.
Not that we subscribe to it. There could be worse things than having Mr. Odious back in office for “four more years.” Odious hates bikes (a result of his inability in his native Holland to “get the knack” of the wheel before emigrating at age 13 to Canada, we understand), but he does so in such a clumsy, transparent fashion that it pulls energy from many other activities to which he could do much more damage. In fact, we love the fact that the Toronto Sun, in its annual rating of city Councillors, gave Odious a “C” in 2004 or so, specifically citing his distraction to tilt at pedal-driven wheels.
So while we aren’t ABC, we wish those alphabetizers all the luck. If it means Diane Alexopoulos gets some extra votes because she’s the visible alternative to Case, we can live with that. If it means the vote is split between Alexopoulos and the one cyclist to have declared himself against Mr. Odious, Hamish Wilson, well, we’ll have to live with that too.
What we know however, is that things on the Danforth Peninsula will never “get better” until Case Ootes leaves his pubic office for good.