Expensive beavers dam the road in Toronto’s Ward 7. High-ranking Metrolinx official Louise Hosek is even out and about recruiting “Aiden” as its brand spokesperson. (Youtube)
Until recently, beavers were practically beloved by Toronto’s powerful mayors. Then they stopped beavers from threatening the city’s road grid, forcing Metrolinx to shut down the popular Beaver Pond at High Park. It has since been drained.
The so-called beaver disaster left Canadians with some seriously strange questions: Why did Metrolinx even start fiddling with this water hole in the first place? And just what do beavers get up to where there isn’t a dirty pond?
Well, it turns out Toronto’s municipal leaders have been washing their hands of the situation for months. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, a former Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader, told reporters on July 31 that he didn’t know who at Metrolinx was responsible for the operation.
“I would hope that they found a third party who could handle it because it is sacred to so many people,” Kelly said.
It’s a common refrain among Toronto’s powerbrokers and politicians who lack the character or vision to take the lead on problem-solving.
It’s hard to blame Metrolinx for failing to properly fulfill its role as the municipal manager of all things transit—especially when the engineers did such a mess. But the problem is its leaders refused to accept their botched job before it could get worse.
Kelly said he met with Metrolinx officials over the weekend, but had “no response.”
“I would love it if they could fix it,” he said. “I am pretty much sure that it is only going to get worse, and they need to fix it soon.”
On July 30, Kelly had met with Chief of Staff Peter Toren and his top staff: Chief Operating Officer Janice Deakin, Chief Of Staff Suzanne St-Pierre, Chief Executive Officer Jim Fleishman, and Chief Project Engineer Suzanne Cerulo. He told them, “The sooner they decide on a solution to restore this pond to its former glory, the better.”
He added, “We need a major building that will help with the city’s transit plan, and there has to be a sense of urgency that this beaver disaster must be resolved.”
That lack of urgency sparked frustration in the lakefront neighbourhood of Hoggs Corners, a few blocks from the entrance to High Park. Residents have raised concerns over the last few years about invasive species of plants, bugs, and other invasive biological species that have crowded out native vegetation.
“I hope they resolve it, as quickly as possible, as quickly as possible,” Rob Gowans, the president of the neighborhood association, told The Canadian Press. “It’s an issue that’s causing people great damage, in their houses and in their yards, to lawns.”
“It’s hard to get your head around, but you really have to understand that when it comes to invasive species, we’re at risk of losing some of our main things in this city,” Gowans said.
His neighbors left notes and flowers at the edge of the water for Aiden, a beaver born this spring that was the youngest of eight beavers on the High Park pond. Aiden now lives in a pond on city property.
If Aiden still loves the sounds of water splashing against rock, you can bet he can still find a spot there. But all the growing plants, insects, bugs, and invasive plants stifling his natural ecosystem won’t be a threat to anyone—including him.
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Alex Weatherby is the Canadian correspondent for The Daily Caller and the executive producer of the interactive television news program “Inside Story with Greta Van Susteren.”