7 News Archive

Let Islanders Stay

By Jane Jacobs Seven News, November 4, 1978

The Metro Government ought to think carefully before it destroys the Toronto Islands community. Parks, no matter how splendid, can attract rowdyism, vandalism, and generally uncivilized behaviour as we learn early each summer when reports come in about hooliganism and misbehaviour among some campers in Algonquin Park. City parks, because of the very large nearby populations are especially vulnerable. Fortunately, they can draw on special protection, too. People who live or do business close to city parks are ordinarily the first to be aware of gross misuse, to take alarm, and to see to it that things are taken in hand. Indeed the very presence of watchful communities surrounding parks helps to inhibit misbehaviour.

In the case of the Toronto Islands, no watchful and devoted community can surround them. It has to be on the Islands. The service the Ward and Algonquin residents now render the people of Metro is valuable. There is no way the quality and continuity of this community’s concern for the Islands and their users could be obtained solely from Metro employees and marina watchmen and guards.

Some years ago people in the Islands community discovered that ducks were dying and called into question the pesticide-spraying practices of Metro Parks, which would otherwise have gone unobserved. This busy-bodyiness, turned on Metro Parks itself, may seem offensive to that department, but from the point of view for the rest of us it is just one more benefit we derive from the community’s devotion and alertness.

Ousting the Islands community is a mistake we would all pay for and rue, remembering wistfully how idyllic the park once was not only on summer weekends, but also in winter, on summer weekdays, in early morning and late evenings, always safe and secure.

This article was published in Seven News, Volume 9, Number 13, November 4, 1978